[ISN] Academics get NSF grant for Net security centers

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Sep 22 06:52:33 EDT 2004


By Robert Lemos 
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
September 21, 2004

The National Science Foundation announced Tuesday that it has granted
more than $12 million to academic researchers for the creation of two
centers to investigate infectious code and study the Internet's

The funds set aside for the centers are part of the NSF's Cyber Trust
program, through which the foundation has granted a total of $30
million to 33 projects focused on researching ways to provide better
information security.

The Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses, or the CIED, will
work to understand how digital diseases such as worms and viruses
spread across the Internet, and how epidemics can be defeated. The
Security Through Interaction Modeling, STIM, Center will draw
parallels with nature's ecology to understand the complex interaction
between machines, humans and cyberattacks.

"These centers, as well as our other funded activities, are looking
not only for new ways to cope with imperfections in today's systems
but also for the knowledge and techniques to build better systems in
the future," Carl Landwehr, the NSF's program director for Cyber
Trust, said in a statement.

The Cyber Trust Centers are the latest government-funded efforts to
conduct broad studies of the Internet and network security.

Last December, the NSF granted $750,000 to two universities to study
the problems that could arise from overreliance on a single technology
or protocol. The issue, known as a technology monoculture, came to
prominence last year, when seven security researchers wrote a paper
warning that Microsoft's dominance could have security repercussions.

Two other universities received $5.46 million last year to fund
networked research centers that would create a distributed model of
the Internet and study how attacks affect its operation.

The CIED, led by Stefan Savage of the University of California at San
Diego and Vern Paxson, a fellow principal investigator at the
International Computer Science Institute of the University of
California at Berkeley, will receive $6.2 million from the NSF. The
center will study ways to quickly analyze self-propagating programs
and to develop techniques for stopping outbreaks before they spread

"It is easy to build a defense against one particular virus or worm;  
that is what we do now," Paxson said in a statement. "But to stop
whole classes of these pathogens requires far more insight into what
it means to be an epidemic and how infectious behavior stands apart
from legitimate use."

The STIM Center, led by Mike Reiter of Carnegie Mellon University,
will receive almost $6.4 million in funding from the NSF. The center
will classify "healthy" network interactions to determine how to
distinguish attacks and will study the interplay between different
"species" of applications, such as e-mail and peer-to-peer networks.

The Cyber Trust program is unrelated to the merger of TrueSecure and
Betrusted, which will form a company that the two participants plan to
call CyberTrust.

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