• United States



by Paul Kerstein

NSF, Iowa State to Launch Cybersecurity Center

Sep 19, 20053 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Iowa State University and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)will join with private businesses to attack cybersecurity problems suchas wireless security in a research center opening this year,participants were to announce Monday.

The new Center for Information Protection, funded mostly throughmembership fees paid by cybersecurity vendors and users, will focus onshort-term cybersecurity issues, possibly including research on methodsto comply with federal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, said DougJacobson, an Iowa State engineering professor and chief technologyofficer at Palisade Systems Inc., a network management and securityvendor.

The center, the first cybersecurity-focused effort in the NSF’sIndustry/University Cooperative Research Centers Program, will focus onissues identified by member companies, Jacobson said. The program hasprovided seed money for dozens of research projects, many of which arespun out into organizations fully supported by private industry.

The goal of the center will be to come up with new technologies thatparticipants can use to fight common cybersecurity problems, Jacobsonsaid. The intellectual property developed by the center will be sharedamong member organizations, and members will be able to use the ideasthat are generated in products they sell.

So far, about 15 organizations have signed up as charter members of theCenter for Information Protection, which will be based at Iowa State,Jacobson said. The center is looking for a range of companies,including cybersecurity vendors and consumers of cybersecurityproducts, he added.

“We want to bring together not only providers of security solutions,but we want to bring together organizations that have the problems,” hesaid. “We’re kind of a neutral third party. We’re trying to bring allthese people together to solve problems.”

Among the center’s charter members are Palisade Systems, The BoeingCo., Cargill Inc. and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

The new center will focus on near-term cybersecurity issues, unlike theNSF’s Global Environment for Networking Investigations, or GENI,initiative, announced last month. Backers of GENI have proposed an NSFproject to come up with a more secure, next-generation Internet, butthat project would focus its efforts on a futuristic approach.

Instead, the Iowa State center will take a shorter view, Jacobson said.”We’re focusing on problems that are a year or two years out,” he said.”We’re focused on the problems the companies have today.”

NSF has funded a number of projects focused on network security sincethe U.S. Congress passed the Cybersecurity R&D Act in 2002, saidCarl Landwehr, coordinator of the Cyber Trust program in the NSF’sComputer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.

“There’s a growing awareness that cybersecurity is limiting what we areconfident doing over the Internet,” Landwehr said. “The NationalScience Foundation is trying to address that.”

In addition to creating new cybersecurity technology, the new centercan also educate people about the importance of cybersecurity and trainnew experts, Landwehr said. “We need technologists educated in theseareas.”

By Grant Gross – IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)