UConn, Comcast Join To Create Cybersecurity Program
By: BRIAN DOWLING
(The Hartford Courant)
STORRS — Comcast, the nation’s largest cable and Internet provider, said Thursday it is investing millions of dollars into UConn to create a cybersecurity research program to harden its systems to Internet attacks and information breaches.
The UConn venture, called the Center of Excellence for Security Innovation, will research how software, hardware and computer networking affect cybersecurity, and it will be intertwined with an existing university center that researches hardware security.
Security holes in existing information technology have led to major breaches over the past year, including the theft of customer records at Target that affected millions of credit cards, and this week when engineers discovered the so-called heartbleed bug that exposed a weakness in a major encryption tool used to secure passwords and financial information on the Internet.
In Connecticut, state officials received more than 400 reports of security breaches last year, compromising information from more than half a million residents, Attorney General George Jepsen said Thursday. According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft cost consumers more than $20 billion in 2012.
Neither UConn nor company officials would disclose the size of Comcast’s investment, saying only that it was worth millions of dollars over at least three years. Talks on the initiative began 18 to 24 months ago, company officials said at a noon press conference Thursday.
“Cyberthreats have always been a serious part of our business,” said John Schanz, Comcast’s chief network officer. “Obviously, we want to deliver high-performance products with great capabilities that are cost-effective and also secure. And the cyberspace world continues to escalate … in complexity, velocity.”
Six professors and seven doctoral candidates will work at the center, which will be in the Information Technologies Engineering building on UConn’s main campus. Mark Tehranipoor, the director of the partnership, said his goal is to make the center “a national authority for hardware, software and network security.”
The announcement came one day after Comcast executives testified in Washington, D.C., before the Senate Judiciary Committee on its proposed $45 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable, a deal that would consolidate the two largest players in the cable industry.
At least three other large corporate-UConn research partnerships have been announced in recent years.
In April 2013, UConn landed a partnership with Pratt & Whitney, an investment of up to $9 million, for an additive manufacturing initiative. In November, United Technologies Corp., Pratt’s parent company, funded a $10 million institute for systems engineering. In 2012, General Electric announced a $7.5 million engineering institute at the university.
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