NIST awards security grants

Announcement of NIST awards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology on Oct. 2 awarded nine research grants totaling $5 million for projects to enhance the security of critical infrastructures, such as electricity and telecommunications.

Under the Critical Infrastructure Protection Grants Program, NIST made awards to five companies, three universities and two commercial/academic partnerships. The grants will support work started in 1998 with Presidential Decision Directive 63, which required agencies to secure the information systems that support the nation's critical infrastructure.

Almost 100 reviewers from eight federal agencies participated in the selection process, choosing the finalists from 133 applications.

The winning projects include:

* Work to examine and address the increased vulnerabilities created by the merging of the Internet, other data networks and voice networks.

* Developing a secure test bed for wireless applications.

* Creating metrics to assess and improve the effectiveness of intrusion-detection systems.

Funding for these grants falls within NIST's fiscal 2001 budget. Although some organizations proposed multiyear projects, funding for fiscal 2002 and any future years depends on congressional approval, according to NIST.

The agency plans to expand the grants program, Edward Roback, chief of NIST's Computer Security Division, told Federal Computer Week in April. The NIST fiscal 2002 budget request includes another $5 million for the program.

In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, members of Congress are already calling for increased funding for federal information security research and development. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chairman of the House Science Committee, plans a hearing on this issue for Oct. 10.

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