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US universities get big bucks to solve cybersecurity issues

Federal Emergency Management Agency puts cash on the table

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During a week in which everyone seemed to be searching for answers amid revelations of the Heartbleed bug, several universities and their partners announced new efforts to explore IT security advances.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced a three-year, $800,000 grant to the University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), the University of Arkansas System's Criminal Justice Institute and the University of Memphis' Center for Information Assurance. They will join forces on research into helping states and communities better prepare for, detect and respond to cyber attacks.

More specifically, the funding will support development of a new training course and the updating of five existing ones through establishment of the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium (NCPC). The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and the Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI) will also be part of this outfit.

Separately, the University of Connecticut is partnering with Comcast to launch the Center of Excellence for Security Innovation at UConn's Storrs campus, building on the school's already well established Center for Hardware Assurance, Security and Engineering (CHASE). 

The university and service provider announced their partnership during a two-day national conference at UConn on secure/trustworthy systems and supply chain assurance. Together, they hope "to develop robust detection systems and analytical tools to ensure that the computer chips and other hardware components vital to Internet broadband systems are shielded from malicious attacks, unauthorized access, and faulty or counterfeit products."

The Center of Excellence in Security Innovation will be located in UConn's Information Technologies Engineering building in Storrs. Research projects will be sponsored by Comcast but most likely by other outfits as well, including the federal government. A couple of UConn Ph.D. candidates this summer will get internships at Comcast.

Mark Tehranipoor, director of CHASE, will also serve as director of the Center of Excellence in Security Innovation.

Comcast is already tight with UConn, as a founding member of CHASE, which is also supported by the Department of Defense, National Science Foundation and Cisco, among others.

Comcast reportedly will invest millions in the new security center. While not ungenerous, millions is of course chump change for Comcast, which is currently trying to buy Time-Warner for $45 billion to create an even more gigantic cable/Internet service provider.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog.


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