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Exploring cybercriminal minds, safeguarding privacy among $50M worth of new NSF research projects

The National Science Foundation (NSF) this week awarded $50 million for more than 70 research projects focused on securing cyberspace in the United States.

The Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace awards are aimed at protecting critical infrastructure from cyberthreats.

IN THE LAB: 25 of today's coolest network and computer technology research projects 

"Securing cyberspace is key to America's global economic competitiveness and prosperity," said NSF Director Subra Suresh, in a statement. "NSF's investment in the fundamental research of cybersecurity is core to national security and economic vitality that embraces efficiency while also maintaining privacy."

The two biggest awards, dubbed Frontier Awards, are:

* Beyond Technical Security: Developing an Empirical Basis for Socio-Economic Perspectives, involving the University of California-San Diego, the International Computer Science Institute at UC Berkeley and George Mason University. This five-year, $10 million project involves mapping out illicit activities taking place over the Internet and trying to understand how the cybercriminal mind works. The researchers, including social scientists, will dive into how cybercrooks make money and interact with victims and defenders in an effort to determine how to curtail their activities. The researchers will investigate how criminals use mainstream social networks as well as underground ones.

* Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data, involving a multidisciplinary team of researchers at Harvard University, is a four-year, $5 million grant to foster creation of tools and policies for collecting, analyzing and sharing data across the Web without impinging on individual privacy. Researchers with expertise in math, government, technology and law will join forces on this project, which could have implications for everything from public health to e-commerce.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +. 

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.


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