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Carnegie Mellon establishes anti-hacking institute
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- A Pennsylvania university created a research institute this month dedicated to fighting computer attacks like those that besieged major Web sites like eBay, Yahoo! and CNN.com in February.
Unlike other computer network security R&D centers, the Carnegie Mellon Institute for Survivable Systems will solicit private as well as federal funds and concentrate on prevention rather than response, according to CMISS officers.
The new research group, which will seek partnerships and fee-for-service arrangements with the public and private sectors, will draw resources and personnel from other Carnegie University facilities, in particular from the CERT Coordination Center.
But unlike the CERT center, CMISS will not have restrictive limits on corporate money. The CERT center receives most of its money from U.S. agencies like the Department of Defense, the FBI and the IRS.
And the federal government sets strict limits for private investment in the center, said Bill Pollack, a spokesman for CMU's Software Engineering Institute, the parent department of CERT and CMISS.
"There's a limit on growth because of that. CMISS enables the Carnegie Mellon community to get all kinds of funding," Pollack said.
CMISS hopes eventually to have an annual operating budget of $40 million, in large part funded by the private sector, he said.
E-commerce businesses could be receptive to CMISS' research, considering sporadic attacks from an average teenager can cost them billions of dollars.
"There hasn't been a good foundation of data available to help researchers understand the key factors that contribute to actual losses," said CMU Computer Science Dean James Morris, in a statement.
The CERT center was created after the Morris Worm incident crippled about 10 percent of all computers on the Internet in 1988. Since then dozens of computer emergency response teams have sprung up, but they tend to focus on hacking breaches after the fact, according to CMISS. The new institute will try to solve network security problems before they have a broad impact.
"Information assurance, as it's practiced today, is not a science. It remains largely ad hoc," said CMU Engineering Dean John Anderson, in a statement.
CMISS has already earned praise from Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.
"Carnegie Mellon's ... effort will, for the first time, establish a public-private partnership that will help safeguard our national security," Santorum said in a statement. He chairs the U.S. Senate's task force on cybersecurity.
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Carnegie Mellon University
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