NSF creates information protection center

Representatives from the private sector and academic institutions are teaming to look for short-term solutions to security needs within a new center sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Iowa State University will house the new Center for Information Protection (CIP), which will bring corporations, security vendors and academic researchers together to coordinate and conduct information security research resulting in commercial products within a year.

“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. “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 center will provide an opportunity for different parties to discuss what is needed in the short term, unlike many other research and development initiatives that are on five- to 10-year cycles.

The current 13 charter members will have an initial meeting Oct. 3-4 to discuss security needs and devise two or three global initiatives for development during the next year. Members will have quarterly meetings to discuss the status of each initiative, resources and product development.

Corporations that buy security products can join the CIP for a $10,000 annual fee. Security vendors will pay $30,000. Shedenhelm said the goal is to involve 30 corporations. Boeing, Cargill and Principal Financial Group are among 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 participating in the initiative. To join, academic institutions must bring in corporations and vendors that would pay fees of $150,000. Government agencies can also pay a fee and join through the NSF.

NSF will provide an initial $120,000 grant for the next two years to open the center. The agency will provide an unspecified amount of money during the next three years. The goal is for the center to be self-sustaining in five years. The center can reapply for NSF funds at that time.

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

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