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>  News Releases >   2005 >   August

Dartmouth part of new NSF-funded Cyber Trust Center

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 08/17/05 • Contact Susan Knapp (603) 646-3661

Five-year, $7.5 million project to examine the cyber safety of the nation's power grid

Researchers with Dartmouth's Institute for Security Technology Studies (ISTS) are part of a new center that will address the challenge of how to protect the nation's power grid. The National Science Foundation has awarded $7.5 million over five years to the project, which will be led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and will also involve researchers at Cornell University and Washington State University.

Sean Smith
Sean Smith (photo by joseph Mehling '69)

The new center, called Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIP), will aim to improve the way the power grid cyber-infrastructure is built and maintained, making it more secure, reliable and safe.

"The power grid is the infrastructure that enables all other infrastructures, like banking and finance, and oil and gas," says Sean Smith, a researcher with ISTS's Cyber Security and Trust Research Center and an Assistant Professor of Computer Science. "However, the power grid's security and reliability depends on what is essentially a vast distributed computing system that spans many organizations and environments and involves thousands of employees."

Smith will lead a multi-university research team examining how to build a secure and reliable computing base. They will investigate hardware approaches to the security and reliability challenges in the grid's cyber infrastructure. This work builds on his previous Dartmouth research and on his prior experience working in industry.

Other research teams will examine data collection, trustworthy information exchange and quantitative validation. Former ISTS director David Nicol, now a professor at the University of Illinois, will lead the validation section, using tools and techniques developed in part while he was at Dartmouth.

TCIP was one of two new centers announced on Aug. 15 by NSF, part of their 2005 Cyber Trust program. Cyber Trust, the focus of the science foundation's cyber-security efforts, was designed to create a system that guarantees the reliability of computers and networks underlying the nation's infrastructures, even in the face of cyber attacks. According to the NSF, the Department of Energy and the Department of Homeland Security have pledged to join NSF in funding and managing the effort.

Researchers will work with a 14-member industrial advisory board from power-system-operating companies and equipment providers to make certain that the universities' efforts address real-world problems, according to Pete Sauer, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor and TCIP Industry Coordinator. Among the companies are Ameren, Cisco Systems, Exelon, Honeywell, Open Systems International, PJM Interconnection, PowerWorld, Siemens and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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