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Press Release

Contact: Chriss Swaney,
412-268-5776

For immediate release:
June 17, 2002

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Open New Center for Computer and Communications Security

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University researchers have formed a new center to tackle the challenges and problems related to Internet security, data storage and privacy issues stemming from America's ongoing war against terrorism.

The new Center for Computer and Communications Security (C3S) is multidisciplinary with faculty coming from the school's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, the Software Engineering Institute and the CERT Coordination Center, a government-funded computer emergency response team at Carnegie Mellon.

Pradeep Khosla, head of Carnegie Mellon's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and the newly formed C3S, said security technology is advancing and new public policy is being proposed to help, but the Internet is still susceptible to viruses, computer intrusions and cyberterrorism. The new center will focus on cutting-edge technologies related to security in distributed systems and wireless and optical networks as well as new technologies to guarantee the privacy of information.

One of the center's latest research tasks includes the development of "self-securing devices." With the support of a $4.5 million grant from the Department of Defense, C3S researchers are developing computer components such as hard disk drives and network cards that will be able to defend themselves and, ultimately each other, from attack.

Most existing computer security strategies, such as the firewalls that defend many company networks and other "intranets," are designed to keep intruders out of the network or the individual computer. But an intruder who somehow makes it through that perimeter defense is home free.

Carnegie Mellon researchers say one advantage of making components self-securing is that each one can closely monitor itself, finding clues about intruders that would go unnoticed by firewall devices, which must handle a large flow of information into a local network from the larger Internet. The work has been under way for more than a year now, and a prototype self-securing disk drive has been developed. Work on other components is continuing. The new center is also pursuing research that combines technology and policy issues.

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