Cybersecurity bill pushes university-business alliances

Program would include college scholarships in return for government service

Legislators are trying to encourage cooperation among universities and businesses to develop technology needed to carry out a strategic government effort to fight cyber attacks. http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/44913

Legislators are trying to encourage cooperation among universities and businesses to develop technology needed to carry out a strategic government effort to fight cyber attacks. 

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A U.S. House subcommittee is recommending a bill that calls for a university-industry task force to coordinate joint cybersecurity research and development projects between business and academia. The Cybersecurity Research and Development Amendments Act of 2009 was approved today by the House Committee on Science and Technology's Research and Science Education Subcommittee.

The legislation would set up a scholarship program that pays college bills for students who study in fields related to cybersecurity. They would also get summer internships in the federal government. In return the students would agree to work as cybersecurity professionals within the federal government for a period equal to the number of years they received scholarships. If there aren't any jobs there, they would work for state or local governments in the same capacity or teach cybersecurity courses.

Language in the bill calls for fewer quick-fix actions and more strategic cybersecurity plans. 'In a series of hearings before Congress in 2009 experts testified that the federal cybersecurity research and development portfolio was too focused on short-term, incremental research," the bill says, "and that it lacked the prioritization and coordination necessary to address the long-term challenge of ensuring a secure and reliable information technology and communications infrastructure."

A government task force would have to come up with a strategic plan within one year to prioritize research and development projects in cybersecurity that involve private businesses.

The task force would devise a way to build and maintain the infrastructure needed to create, test and implement new secure networking and IT systems. It would also provide detailed spending priorities for federal agencies to meet these goals.

The goal is to improve the security, reliability, resilience and trustworthiness of the national digital infrastructure. The program would also shepherd innovations from the research phase to implementation as new technologies and applications.

The legislation would give the president 180 days to list government cybersecurity staffing needs and to figure out how to meet them taking into consideration pay, the hiring process and hiring flexibility.

The program would go beyond researching technology threats to address "social and behavioral factors including human-computer interactions, usability, user motivations and organizational cultures."

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