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Illinois supercomputer center to head military cybersecurity effort
Jim Paul, The Associated Press 2003-07-03

Hoping to thwart hackers, the military is launching a new research effort at the University of Illinois to improve the security of battlefield computers and communications systems.

Officials at the school's National Center for Supercomputing Applications on Thursday announced an initial $5.7 million grant from the Office of Naval Research to establish a new research center to develop technology against enemy hackers, NCSA director Dan Reed said.

Other research projects will include developing remotely programmed radios and refining ways for monitoring battlefield environments.

The NCSA, located at the university's Urbana-Champaign, Ill., campus, is a high-performance computing center that develops and deploys computing, networking and information technology for government and industry.

Software developers will try to determine the best way to share information among military forces without fear of interception. The government also is seeking a framework for determining quickly when and how a computer network is under attack, Reed said.

They also will work to ensure the integrity of sensors deployed to monitor battlefield environments, so forces can rely on their data without worrying about misleading information planted by the enemy.

The same kind of sensors could be used to monitor the integrity of bridges or the movement of traffic, making the research applicable to nonmilitary use, Reed said.

Another project involves the development of portable, remotely programmed radio systems.

Instead of using electronic hardware to control a radio's frequency, the radio could be remotely programmed using computer software, making it easily adaptable and secure because it could be instantly deprogrammed if lost to the enemy, Reed said.

Such "software-designed" radios also could make it easier for civilian emergency-response teams to communicate because they wouldn't be hampered by devices operating on incompatible frequencies, Reed said.

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