Industry and Academia Partner to Beef Up Cybersecurity
By Yasmin Tadjdeh
Virginia Tech and a major defense contractor have joined forces to create a research-and-development center that will create software designed to tackle cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
L-3 Communications and the university held the grand opening of of the National Security Solutions Center in Arlington, Va., Oct. 5 with an eye toward winning government contracts, said Andrew Bostock, L-3's director of business development.
Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger said, “We believe that the partnership between the Virginia Tech Hume Center for National Security and L-3 Communications is going to produce some remarkable results, not only for the two organizations, but we think for protecting the national security of our nation.”
The partnership will produce real products designed to solve the security needs of not just the private sector and government customers, academia as well.
“For those of us in academia, we believe in openly sharing a lot of our scientific discoveries through journals and conferences, etc., but at the same time we understand the intrinsic value of our critical intellectual properties,” said Steger.
Virginia Tech networks are constantly being probed, Steger said. On average, there are 970,000 attacks per week — or four million a month — and they are coming from all over the world. Faster solutions are needed in order to stop the threat, Steger said. Industry and government can't wait 10 years for technologies that can respond to cyber-intrusions, he said.
Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., praised the partnership. “Other than maybe the terrorist threat, this one is something that is going to be with us as long as technology exists, and protecting ourselves in both the defense and civilian sector is going to be a growing mission for the federal government and for private industry.”
Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., also applauded the academic and industry partnership. “Government can’t secure cyberspace on its own. Private sector and academia have to be involved, not only because they too are at risk, but because cybersecurity is an urgent national priority that requires our best and brightest minds’ attention. That’s what this project is about,” Moran said.
While technological innovation has strengthened the country, it has also exposed vulnerabilities and put the nation at risk, Moran said.
“[The United States is] not invincible, and that’s why this project is so important. Information technology is ... an essential enabler of American power, but it is also our Achilles’ heel,” he said.
Already being developed at the facility are products such as the L-3 Secure Communications Interoperability Protocol Gateway, which allows for secure phone calls to be made from anywhere because they are routed through a secure network.
Another product, the Virtual Internet Business Environment (ViBE), allows computers and networks to be protected from malware while accessing the Internet. ViBE creates a “protected, self-healing web environment” that is isolated from computer and home networks. If users accidentally click on harmful links, their network and computer are protected.
Photo Credit: Boscobel