NSF awards Cyber Trust grants worth $36 million

Two academic research centers will receive grants of $7.5 million each from the National Science Foundation to study how to make electronic voting machines more trustworthy and to protect electric power grids from cyberattacks and accidental failures.

The five-year grants are among the largest that NSF officials will make under the Cyber Trust program, which will award grants totaling $36 million in 2005. Carl Landwehr, the program’s coordinator, described untrustworthy voting machines and vulnerable power grids as urgent national problems.

Johns Hopkins University, under lead researcher Avi Rubin, will receive $7.5 million for research on tamper-resistant hardware, verification systems and other means to safeguard voting. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, under researcher Bill Sanders, will receive the same amount to create technologies for conveying critical information to power grid operators. That research could be adapted for use in protecting other critical control systems, NSF officials said.

The foundation also announced that it will make 34 smaller awards under the 2005 Cyber Trust program for research to develop automated defenses against malicious code attacks and for work on authenticating digital media and extracting information from large databases without compromising individuals’ privacy.

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