Virginia Universities Team Up on Nation’s Cyber Security
Focus on public policy and law gives research effort unique focusARLINGTON, Va.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the United States, federal policy-makers have taken measures to strengthen computer network security systems guarding the nation’s vital database and infrastructure operations. Last month, federal officials announced a $6.5 million National Institute of Standards and Technology grant to two Virginia universities to support the Critical Infrastructure Protection Project (CIP Project).
The CIP Project is a collaboration between George Mason University School of Law’s National Center for Technology & Law and James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., to sponsor research and train government and business leaders to protect computer networks against attack.
While a number of universities recently have obtained federal support for IT research on computer network security, the Virginia project represents the only one involving public policy and law. Both George Mason University and James Madison University have been recognized by the National Security Agency as Centers of Excellence for Cyber Security, and have been conducting cyber-security research in recent years.
“Leveraging these two programs will give us a strength in this area that doesn’t exist elsewhere in this country,” Dr. Linwood Rose, president of JMU, told the Washington Post.
John McCarthy, the CIP Project’s executive director, explains that business, government and academic leaders struggle with a variety of technological and non- technological barriers to managing cyber-related risks. Many barriers involve complex questions of law, policy and business processes and their relationship to technological applications. Examples include tort liability, information sharing among competitors for security purposes, and exchange of information between business and government to improve cooperation for managing national security risks.
“Our intent is for the CIP Project to generate real solutions that address the complex legal, policy and technology issues associated with an increasing number of cyber attacks and cyber failures affecting government agencies, military, private sector businesses and even individuals,” McCarthy says.
The CIP Project’s four program elements include:
• Providing education and outreach: The schools will develop seminars and workshops, professional education and training, and facilitated government/industry and academic/ industry discussions.
• Serving as a repository of expertise for government and industry: Because cyber-security issues are not generally understood, there is a need for expertise in a range of issue areas. Government support includes developing model legislation covering cyber-security issues and testifying on complex issues of law, policy and technology.
• Sponsoring research: Using the universities’ expertise, the CIP Project will develop a one-stop shop for information on cyber-security law and policy, and support applied research as well as long-term endeavors in law, policy and technology.
• Developing Special Programs: The project will focus resources on certain special areas of interest, such as guidance to small business; direct cyber-security knowledge and expertise directly into the homeland security discussion; integrate technological expertise with legal and policy insights to support creation of a viable underwriting market for cyber risks, and information sharing and analysis center modeling.
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