Yale participates in the NSF program to enhance cybersecurity and privacy

Yale University is among the key partners of the Safe and Trustworthy Cyberspace Program, a $25.4 million multi-institutional effort supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that seeks to advance ambitious research and center-level projects in cybersecurity and privacy.

“The Safe and Trustworthy Cyberspace Program is one of NSF’s largest research programmes, recognizing the importance of cybersecurity and privacy to the country’s economy and citizens,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These investments support cybersecurity research across the country that can be translated into solutions that improve our quality of life.”

NSF beneficiaries will enhance the security of the open source supply chain, increase computing privacy for marginalized populations, and ensure trustworthy cloud computing. In addition to scientific research, these efforts will support the NSF Directorate of Computer Science, Information, and Engineering’s Expand Participation in Computing initiative that seeks to bring more people from underrepresented groups into the computing research community.

Projects include:

Distributed secret computing center

With Indiana University serving as the lead institution, this project will use the capability of “Trusted Execution Environment” hardware in modern chips to run secure computing in a way that cannot be penetrated by malware across distributed computing systems such as cloud computing environments. The researchers will work to provide solutions for used data such as machine learning models to train on private data across cloud and edge systems. In addition to Yale University, partners include Purdue University, Penn State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Ohio State University, Spelman College, and Duke University.

“Personal data contains valuable information that can enable transformative—and even lifesaving—applications,” said Van Zang, associate professor of computer science at Yale University and principal investigator of one of the centers. “For example, disease diagnosis can use artificial intelligence tools to predict the course of a patient’s disease from its onset and help the clinician find the best possible treatment. However, the deployment of such innovation is hampered by the lack of effective protection of the data used.”

Chang said the center can enhance cybersecurity and privacy technologies and provide transformative, future-proof solutions for society.

“Our vision at the Distributed Confidential Computing Center (CDCC) is to enable practical, verifiable and verifiable control of information exposure and data use in big data analytics,” he said. “This will open the door to real-world deployment of a whole new set of deep-impact computing innovations.”

Additional projects include:

Enabling a secure and trustworthy software supply chain

Led by North Carolina State University, this collaborative research will focus on open source supply chain security. All modern software includes open source software, and there is a high risk of malicious criminal tampering. Researchers on this project will work with industry and government agencies to develop scientific principles, create tools and processes, and develop metrics for supply chain security to reduce risk with software used by consumers, government, industry, and academia. The project will help the software industry by creating a diverse workforce of technical leaders and practitioners who are educated and trained in secure software supply chain methods. Other members of the team include Carnegie Mellon University, George Washington University and the University of Maryland College Park.

Securing the future of computing for marginalized and vulnerable populations

Led by the University of Florida, this project will address privacy and security issues in marginalized and vulnerable populations. These populations have unique needs, concerns, and capabilities related to security and privacy that are underserved, putting them at risk of harm. Researchers will develop solutions that support this population. This project will bring together computer and social scientists from the University of Florida, the University of Washington, and Indiana University.

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