NSF creates information protection center

Representatives from the private sector and academic institutions are teaming up to look for short-term solutions to security needs in a new National Science Foundation (NSF)-sponsored center.

Iowa State University will house the new Center for Information Protection (CIP) that will bring corporations, security vendors and academic researchers to the table to coordinate and conduct research on information security resulting in commercial products within a 12-month timeframe.

'We've noticed in the last two years there is a real need within corporations and within government to address the short-term security needs because the threat and the legislation are coming up on them so fast,' said Kurt Shedenhelm, chief executive officer and president of Palisade Systems, a network security vendor and CIP charter member.

'They're trying to keep up and manage that whole information security process and it's somewhat complex,' he said, adding they're dealing with eight to 15 different point solutions. 'What we're hoping to do with the center is provide a process and methodology to address a lot of these short term issues that produce products.'

Shedenhelm said the CIP provides an opportunity where the different stakeholders can sit down and discuss what's needed in the short term as opposed to many other research and development initiatives that are on five to 10 year cycles.

The current 13 charter members will have a kickoff meeting Oct. 3-4 to discuss their security needs and come up with two to three global initiatives that will be developed over the following year. Members will then have quarterly meetings to discuss the status of each initiative, resources and product development.

Private sector corporations who would buy security products can join the CIP for a $10,000 annual fee, while security vendors can join for a $30,000 annual fee. Shedenhelm said the goal is to get 30 corporations involved. Currently, Boeing, Cargill and Principal Financial Group are some of the corporate charter members. Palisade Systems is the only security vendor at this time.

'The vendors who participate in the center have exclusive rights to the information to develop products,' Shedenhelm said.

In addition to Iowa State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is also participating in the initiative. To join, academic institutions must bring in at least $150,000 worth of corporations and vendors, who would pay their respective fees. Government agencies can also join for a fee through the NSF.

The NSF is providing the initial $120,000 grant over the next two years to get the center up and running and will provide an unspecified amount of money over the following three years. The goal is to get the center self-sustaining in five years, but the center can reapply for NSF funds at that time.

The CIP is the first NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center specifically devoted to information protection research.

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