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Last modified: Tuesday, October 9, 2012

$4.3 million NSF grant to CACR will strengthen cybersecurity in research projects

Oct. 9, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The National Science Foundation has awarded a $4.297 million grant to Indiana University's Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, which, along with four other organizations, will improve the practice of cybersecurity for National Science Foundation scientific cyberinfrastructure with the establishment of the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure.

Von Welch

Von Welch

CTSC will provide readily available cybersecurity expertise and services tailored to the NSF computational science community, as well as leadership and coordination across projects. This will be coupled with education and training to expand the pool of available cybersecurity expertise for computational science projects.

Indiana University's CACR is leading the project with assistance from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. CTSC builds on a tradition of innovative efforts at Indiana University's Pervasive Technology Institute, of which CACR is a part, for applying research to supporting computational science.

Von Welch, CACR deputy director and CTSC principal investigator, said the CTSC will address a critical need in the scientific research community.

"Two recent workshops, which included representatives of 35 major NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure projects, determined that the NSF cyberinfrastructure community faces strong challenges in obtaining access to cybersecurity expertise for computational science," he said. "Projects are forced to divert their resources to develop that expertise, address risks haphazardly, unknowingly reinvent basic cybersecurity solutions and struggle with interoperability. All of these serve as distractions from their critical mission of supporting science research. The goal of CTSC is to improve cybersecurity for science projects while allowing them to focus on what they do best."

Welch said that requiring NSF-funded cyberinfrastructure projects to tackle cybersecurity independently oftentimes results in redundant and inefficient practices.

"Every project has its own culture, risk tolerance, legacy technologies, collaboration patterns, timelines, etc., making a technological 'silver bullet' unfeasible," Welch said. "Even when security expertise is available within a project, the complicated NSF cyberinfrastructure ecosystem brings significant challenges in scientific data management, cross-project collaborations, interoperability and knowledge dissemination."

Randal Butler, of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, who will serve as the CTSC deputy director, said of CTSC: "The members of CTSC have been working in cybersecurity for the NSF community for decades. CTSC represents a great opportunity to expand and coordinate those efforts, and to look comprehensively at community needs and how research could be applied to improve cybersecurity in practice."

CTSC already has commitments in place to serve six NSF-funded projects and will consider applications from future cyberinfrastructure projects through an open call. Welch said newly funded projects will be prime candidates for assistance from CTSC, which will review applications throughout the duration of the three-year grant.

About the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research

The Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research is affiliated with IU's Pervasive Technology Institute and works closely with its partner organizations at the university: CLEAR Health Information, the Maurer School of Law, the Kelley School of Business, the School of Informatics and Computing, REN-ISAC, the University Information Policy Office and the University Information Security Office. It has been designated by the National Security Agency as a National Center for Academic Excellence in both Information Assurance Education and Research.