CSC News

March 31, 2008

NC State Launches Secure Open Systems Initiative

Provided with Permission from Engineering Communications

With governments and companies all over the world installing open computer systems to exchange and process information, more data is vulnerable to outside attacks. A bold new initiative at North Carolina State University will make those systems more secure and trustworthy.

The College of Engineering at NC State will celebrate the establishment of the new Secure Open Systems Initiative (SOSI) at 10 a.m. Friday, April 4, in the Progress Energy Conference Center in Engineering Building II on Centennial Campus. The event will feature a demonstration of what can happen when outside forces invade an open system, as well as a live video feed from the new on-campus lab where some of the research is being conducted.

Media coverage is invited. (Map) (Get directions)

“This initiative will contribute to our national security and economic health by making vital computer systems more secure,” said Dr. Louis A. Martin-Vega, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are pleased that this important work is being conducted on NC State’s Centennial Campus.”

The center opens during a period of increasing popularity for open computer systems, which can be modified by outside users and work in a variety of computing environments. Centennial Campus played an important role in this growth as the site of open-source giant Red Hat. More than a dozen NC State faculty members have been focusing research on software security, network security, software engineering, and new networking technologies, which are related to the SOSI initiatives.

Because open systems are accessible by the public, they can be vulnerable to hackers and malicious attacks. SOSI will help advance the trustworthiness and security of those systems, making it easier for the Department of Defense to adopt more open source software and systems into its operations. The initiative will develop a highly secure computational, networking and software test-bed “cloud” in which NC State researchers and external partners will be able to conduct experiments, verify and validate their results, and develop prototypes. The institute will be a repository for research results and testing tools, and will foster start-up technology companies during early stages of business development. Partners will include Red Hat, IBM and Cisco.

“The growth in open-source software has created a demand for cutting-edge research that makes open systems more secure,” said Dennis Kekas, the executive director of the NC State Networking Technology Institute who is leading the new initiative. “This initiative will help meet that demand.”

The keynote speaker at the event will be U.S. Rep. David Price, who represents the 4th District of North Carolina and helped secure the $3.5 million in federal funding that started SOSI. The open systems demonstration, which will feature robots developed by students, will be conducted by Dr. Mladen Vouk, Associate Vice Provost for Information Technology and Head of the Department of Computer Science.

Media contact: Nate DeGraff, (919) 515-3848 (office), (336) 253-2893 (cell),

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