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Last modified: Wednesday, February 26, 2003

IU joins in landmark cyberspace security agreement

The first higher-education-focused Information Sharing Analysis Center has been established by Indiana University through an agreement with the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) that was announced at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 21.

The Research and Education Network Information Sharing Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) operated by Indiana University will focus on the high performance network infrastructure dedicated to research and education. The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace announced by President Bush earlier this month calls for establishing information sharing analysis centers to facilitate communication, develop best practices and disseminate security-related information.

"The agreement with the NIPC will facilitate the sharing of summary information and security research with other sectors. In addition, we will apply what we learn from the other sectors to the operation of the research and education networks," said Michael A. McRobbie, IU vice president for information technology and chief information officer. "One of IU's cybersecurity goals is to use our expertise in this area to help improve the security of higher education networks in general through the REN-ISAC, which also then contributes to the security of the national infrastructure."

"It is a great pleasure to announce the signing of an information sharing agreement between the NIPC and Indiana University, as the operating entity for the Research and Education Network Information Sharing and Analysis Center. This partnership will help protect the nation's higher education and research community from cyber attacks," said Adm. James Plehal, acting director of the National Infrastructure Protection Center. "The agreement mirrors information sharing arrangements enacted with other ISACs covering the nation's critical infrastructures," Plehal added.

The REN-ISAC also supports the framework to improve information technology security at all colleges and universities developed last year by an expert working group drawn from the membership of EDUCAUSE and Internet2, the two major information technology organizations in higher education. Endorsed by leading national organizations for higher education, the five-point action framework includes raising the level of collaboration among higher education, industry and government, and integrating the work of higher education into the broader national effort to strengthen critical infrastructure.

"Establishing the REN-ISAC demonstrates the higher education community's commitment to making IT security a priority," said Douglas Van Houweling, president and CEO of the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development, home of the Internet2 project and the Abilene network. "I am pleased that a member of the Internet2 community and the Abilene network are helping lead the way in the national effort to strengthen information technology infrastructure."

Network security is increasingly important to the research and education community's ability to use advanced networking capabilities to collaborate and access network-connected resources. In order to ensure continued excellent network service for the research and education connections, the REN-ISAC will combine an expanded set of security services, including proactive security monitoring, assessment and reporting.

Under the REN-ISAC agreement, the NIPC will provide information about threats, warnings and actual attacks reported by other organizations under NIPC agreements concerning the national IT-infrastructure. In addition, summary information gleaned from the REN-ISAC's analysis of network traffic anomalies that are likely to be related to security incidents will be transmitted to the NIPC and other sector ISACs, when appropriate. The REN-ISAC is the first of what may eventually be several ISACs to serve different aspects of higher education's cyberinfrastructure capabilities.

About Indiana University

Indiana University is one of the oldest state universities in the Midwest and also one of the largest universities in the United States with more than 110,000 students, faculty and staff on eight campuses. IU has a growing national and international reputation in the areas of information technology and advanced networking. IU, at its Indianapolis campus, is home to the Abilene Network Operations Center as well as the Global Research Network Operations Center (Global NOC). For more information see http://www.indiana.edu.

About the National Infrastructure Protection Center

Established in February 1998, the NIPC's mission is to serve as the U.S. government's focal point for threat assessment, warning, investigation and response for threats or attacks against our critical infrastructures. These infrastructures, which include telecommunications, energy, banking and finance, water systems, government operations, and emergency services, are the foundation upon which our industrialized society is based. The NIPC is in the process of transition to the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security. For more information see http://www.nipc.gov and http://www.dhs.gov.