Dec 29 2014

$45M in Grants Distributed to Higher Ed for Cybersecurity Policy Research

Three institutions are developing think tanks for the future of cybersecurity.

A nonprofit interested in generating a "marketplace of ideas" for the future of cybersecurity is donating $45 million to three higher education institutions.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation will distribute three grants, $15 million each, to Stanford University; the University of California, Berkeley; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The amount is part of $65 million the foundation has committed over the next five years to bolster research into cybersecurity, according to a news release.

Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer said cybersecurity was one of the defining challenges of our time.

“Choices we are making today about Internet governance and security have profound implications for the future,” says Kramer in the news release. “To make those choices well, it is imperative that they be made with some sense of what lies ahead and, still more important, of where we want to go. We view these grants as providing seed capital to begin generating thoughtful options.”

Each educational institution will be using the funds to further research into cybersecurity’s future, each in different ways, according to the foundation.

MIT's Cybersecurity Policy Initiative (CPI) will establish "quantitative metrics and qualitative models" to help policymakers make informed decisions. The initiative will bring together a team of scholars from three disciplines: engineering, social science and management.

“We’re very good at understanding the system dynamics on the one hand, then translating that understanding into concrete insights and recommendations for policymakers,” says Daniel Weitzner, CPI’s principal investigator.

Stanford's Cyber Initiative, which launched in November, will research the cybersecurity themes of trustworthiness and governance of networks. Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, a founder of the Cyber Initiative, says the group's goal will be to build “a safer, better world that balances humanity's concerns with the promise of new technologies.”

UC Berkeley will use the funds to support its Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, a multidisciplinary initiative to research, provide outreach and develop a curriculum for the future of cybersecurity.

Steven Weber, a professor at UC Berkeley’s School of Information, said the center will focus its efforts on the shape of things to come.

“The goal of Berkeley’s new Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity is first to map out what the cybersecurity problem itself will come to mean a few years hence, and then to generate and facilitate the forward looking, interdisciplinary research efforts that will make a difference,” Weber says.


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