Security, engineering and public policy experts at Carnegie Mellon University are joining together to form a lab at the school dedicated to researching and developing new security technologies.
The new organization, known as the Carnegie Mellon CyLab, will include representatives from the schools engineering, computer science and public policy departments, as well as personnel from the CERT Coordination Center, also based at the university. The groups goal will be to promote collaboration between government and the private sector, something that has been sorely lacking when it comes to information security.
CyLabs charter will differ significantly from that of CERT, which is charged with analyzing and responding to security threats and attacks. A quasi-public organization, CERT is partially funded by the federal government. CyLab will also receive public money but will concentrate on finding long-term solutions to pervasive security problems instead of looking at how to mitigate the latest attack on Internet Explorer, as CERT does.
CyLab already includes 30 staff members, 30 faculty members and 80 students, comprising what Carnegie Mellon officials said is the largest academic security research organization in the country.
The groups mission is threefold: education, research and development, and response and prediction. In addition to offering bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in security-related disciplines, CyLab will work to educate home users on the Internets inherent dangers and the steps they can take to combat those issues.
"Our goal is to empower 10 million citizens with security wellness. If we can give them some very basic information about firewalls and anti-virus [software], it could significantly slow down the velocity of attacks," said Pradeep Khosla, co-director of CyLab and head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon, based in Pittsburgh.
The meat of CyLabs work will be its R&D operation. The labs research will be funded partially by industry, with the goal of getting new technology out into the marketplace as quickly as possible. Companies that provide high levels of funding will have rights to the intellectual property the lab develops. The group already has signed on 50 companies as funding partners, including Microsoft Corp., General Motors Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Intel Corp.
Among the projects CyLab researchers are working on are a multimodal biometric authentication system capable of using a combination of voice prints, fingerprints and other biometrics to authenticate users.