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UC cybersecurity research inspires Congressional action

College of Arts and Sciences’ Richard Harknett says strengthening security 'essential'

The University of Cincinnati College of Arts and Sciences’ cybersecurity community is voicing its full support for a Congressional amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to help strengthen cyber security protection advancements nationwide.

Introduced last week by U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Westwood), Mike Turner (R-Dayton) and Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland), and passed Monday by the U.S. House of Representatives, the amendment supports $3 million in funding for the National Center for Hardware and Embedded Systems Security and Trust (CHEST).

UC Arts & Sciences Political Sciences Head and national cybersecurity expert Richard Harknett

UC Arts & Sciences Political Sciences Head and national cybersecurity expert Richard Harknett

“Congressional support for strengthening national cyber security at all levels is essential,” said Professor of Political Science Richard Harknett, co-Director of the Ohio Cyber Range Institute (OCRI) at the University of Cincinnati and national cyber strategy expert.

“Congressmen Chabot and Turner and Congresswoman Fudge have shown real leadership through amending the National Defense Authorization Act to support a national collaboration between industry, government, and leading research universities to produce the critical secure computing infrastructure we need to advance our economy and national security in the 21st century,” Harknett said.

Events in the headlines underscore the critical timing of the funding, Chabot said, citing recent reports of Russian attempts to steal COVID-19 vaccine research and the hacking of Twitter that exposed the accounts of President Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and more, and shut down the site for hours.

“This amendment coordinates university-based research with the needs of industry and government to create a more robust understanding of hardware and cyber security," Turner said. "Many Ohio organizations are at the forefront of hardware security issues and would directly benefit from this amendment. I am glad to cosponsor this amendment that will increase security in Ohio and throughout our nation.”

Led by UC, CHEST is a nationwide research collaborative comprised of six universities which works with partners in industry and the U.S. Department of Defense. Its mission is to advance best practices in computer hardware, embedded systems security and other critical cyber security issues with the intent to help protect U.S. economic and security interests globally and nationally.

Other university partners include Northeastern University, the University of California at Davis, the University of Connecticut, the University of Virginia and the University of Dallas at Texas. Industry partners include the Air Force Research Laboratory, Booz Allen Hamilton, Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems, Raytheon Technologies and more.

In addition to its leadership role with CHEST, UC is heading up a collaborative research effort to link CHEST institutions with a larger set of research universities through the Ohio Cyber Range Institute (OCRI) ecosystem, including the Ohio State University and the University of Akron, Harknett said.

Earlier this year, UC received $1 million in funding for OCRI from the Ohio Department of Higher Education to continue development of a cyber range designed to defend the state from digital attacks, and continue advancing education and training. The institute officially opened at a March 3 ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

To find out more about UC's leadership in cybersecurtity, read UC leads national cybersecurity initiative.

To find out more about Representative Steve Chabot's initiatives in cybersecurity funding, read: https://chabot.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx

Featured image at top: Aerial view of the University of Cincinnati's Uptown campus.