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Press Release

Contact:
Chriss Swaney
412-268-5776

For immediate release:
January 20, 2003

Carnegie Mellon Unveils New Research to Study Risks Posed by Terrorists and Their Weapons

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Engineering and Public Policy received a $1.1 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to study the risks posed by weapons of terror and weapons of mass destruction.

"We've learned the hard way that such apparently innocuous things as airliners, the U.S. mail, electric power and the computer systems can be turned into weapons against us," said Granger Morgan, head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Engineering and Public Policy. "This new grant will help us identify ways to design safer systems so that we can continue to enjoy their benefits while minimizing the possibility that it can be turned around and used as weapons against us."

The grant will support research and training to reduce risks and improve security in a number of areas. Studies are likely to include:

  • Work that focuses on the potential public health benefits of combining bioterror screening with strategies to improve the delivery of public health services.

  • An integrated risk analysis of how best to protect mail systems from terrorist attacks.

  • Identifying social policies and technical strategies that could reduce the risks and consequences of a cyber attack by teaming up with the CERT® Coordination Center of Carnegie Mellon's Software Engineering Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

  • Addressing the use of information technology as a bargaining chip to reduce tensions between India and Pakistan and other parts of Southeast Asia.
"We will also analyze other topics, as diverse as making electric power systems more secure, protecting aircraft against electronic attack, and studying the operation of terrorist attacks, may also be supported," Morgan said.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, with headquarters in Chicago, is a private, independent grant-making institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. The foundation makes grants totaling more than $175 million each year. Its program area on International Peace and Security, through which the Carnegie Mellon grant was made, is designed to help develop new approaches to cooperative security; secure, reduce and limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and bring independent, scientific and technical advice to bear on security policy.

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