The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) just awarded an $800,000, three-year grant to a trio of American universities that will combine their efforts to help U.S. states and communities better prepare for future cyber attacks. The three institutions are the University of Memphis’ Center for Information Assurance, the University of Arkansas System’s Criminal Justice Institute, and the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security.
The grant comes after the discovery of the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug, a flaw in a commonly used method of website encryption that put the data of millions of people at risk to cyber criminals.
The grant will also be used for the development of a new training course, and will be spent on bringing five other courses up to date with the creation of the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium. Members of this organization will include the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and the Norwich University Applied Research Institutes.
Unrelated to FEMA’s grant, Comcast, the huge but widely disliked Internet and TV service provider, will be teaming up with the University of Connecticut in the creation of the Center of Excellence for Security Innovation. With this joint effort, Comcast and the University of Connecticut aim to “ensure that the computer chips and other hardware components vital to Internet broadband systems are shielded from malicious attacks, unauthorized access, and faulty or counterfeit products.”
If the recent Heartbleed scare is any indication, such efforts made for the good of cyber security have been delayed far too long. Whether these relationships will produce anything fruitful for overall cyber security remains to be seen.
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