Exploring cyber security in the ‘cloud’

Michael Reiter (photo by Kelli Gaskill)

Michael Reiter (photo by Kelli Gaskill)

A $5.8 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Frontier Awards program will be used by UNC and five partners for a major research project to explore challenges in cyber security in the era of cloud computing.

Michael Reiter, the Lawrence M. Slifkin Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at UNC, is the principal investigator on the project. Jay Aikat, a research assistant professor in computer science, is the co-PI. Outside partners include Stony Brook, Duke and North Carolina State universities, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and RSA Labs.

Reiter said the vast majority of cloud computing research is driven by the perception that it decreases security for its customers, in comparison to those customers using their own infrastructures.

“Instead we see new opportunities for improving the security of data and services by moving them to the cloud, and we plan on pursuing an aggressive research agenda to realize these opportunities,” he said.

The five-year UNC project, dubbed Project Silver, will address challenges that include secure transport, authorization, user and software authentication and security monitoring, among other areas.

The research team will convene “Cloud Security Horizons” summits with industry stakeholders to contribute to the flow of knowledge between the research team and commercial vendors and cloud operators.

Project Silver will also develop teacher workshops which will enable faculty from different institutions to create curricular materials in cloud security.

The NSF awarded nearly $20 million to three Frontier Award research projects.

Read more about the cyber security grant.