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PACT provides cybersecurity professionals with guidance to efficiently develop custom cybersecurity solutions for unusual environments in the naval environment and operational technologies like control systems.

IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research, NSWC Crane join forces again

$1.9 million award enables CACR experts to develop tool for assessing the toughest cybersecurity problems facing U.S. Department of Defense

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A two-year, $1.9 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense will allow the partnership between the IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division to continue to flourish.

The award will fund the real-world piloting of the Principles-based Assessment for Cybersecurity Toolkit, or PACT. Developed by CACR chief policy analyst Craig Jackson and CACR senior policy analyst Scott Russell in collaboration with NSWC Crane, PACT is a tool for assessing the toughest cybersecurity problems.

 

Our long-term vision for PACT is to evolve an increasingly standardized, usable, and refined approach to assessment with a growing set of tools; a growing community of PACT Assessment Facilitators; and a network of highly skilled cyber experts available to contribute their experience and wisdom to impactful, collaborative assessments.

Craig Jackson, CACR chief policy analyst

For a naval installation such as Crane, these challenges include environments and technologies that aren't your typical desktop computers, tablets, and cell phones. PACT provides cybersecurity professionals with guidance to efficiently develop custom cybersecurity solutions for unusual environments in the naval environment and operational technologies like control systems.

“The Department of Defense has cybersecurity concerns of critical importance, and we’re happy to work alongside our counterparts at Crane to devise tools and methods to protect national security interests,” said Von Welch, CACR director. “PACT builds on several years of collaboration among our institutions, and we’re happy to mature this relationship to this next level.”

CACR has an established relationship with NSWC Crane to share cybersecurity expertise in the areas of information security and national defense. In July 2016, CACR and NSWC Crane entered into a two-year cooperative research and development agreement to share personnel and expertise, and to collaboratively advance research and development in tackling cybersecurity challenges to our nation.

Last year, IU announced that Jackson and Russell were appointed temporary faculty members at Crane to work with Navy leaders on cybersecurity research.

“Our long-term vision for PACT is to evolve an increasingly standardized, usable, and refined approach to assessment with a growing set of tools; a growing community of PACT Assessment Facilitators; and a network of highly skilled cyber experts available to contribute their experience and wisdom to impactful, collaborative assessments,” Jackson said.

"Cybersecurity is center stage in national security conversations,” said Dr. Brett Seidle, NSWC Crane technical director. “NSWC Crane is working actively with government, industry, and academia to expand our Navy's advantage by securing national defense systems. We are excited to build on our great collaboration with CACR that develops capabilities where gaps currently exist in service to our warfighters."

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly has been instrumental in building the relationship between Crane and CACR. Not only does the collaboration strengthen cybersecurity defense in the state and world, it is having a positive economic impact on Hoosiers. Case in point: the PACT funding will allow CACR to hire two full-time cybersecurity professionals to help Jackson and Russell in their work.

AECOM, an NSWC Crane industry partner, also has a role in PACT. AECOM is a global leader in enterprise resilience, U.S. Department of Defense mission assurance/risk management framework services, and industrial control systems security.

“We are pleased to provide our expertise and experience through this collaboration with IU and NSWC Crane to mentor the CACR program and ensure applicability to the challenges facing DoD components today,” said James West, AECOM senior vice president, Electro Magnetic Spectrum & Infrastructure Assurance Sector within the intelligence, systems engineering, security, services and solutions strategic business unit. “Leveraging our proven methodologies, AECOM will work toward ensuring PACT is oriented to provide robust decision support for all DoD sites, facilities, and programs.”

The PACT news follows on the heels of a September 13 announcement that CACR and NSWC Crane renewed their existing cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA). The goal is to strive for state-of-the-art technology advancements and grow the collaboration to improve capabilities in the areas of software assurance and trusted artificial intelligence.  

In addition, in late August CACR announced a $4.9 million NSF award to fund a new Indiana University-led center focused on protecting and securing U.S. research. The Research Security Operations Center, or ResearchSOC, is a virtual center led by IU and distributed across IU, Duke University, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center and University of California San Diego. ResearchSOC will help provide the research and education community with the cybersecurity services, training and information sharing necessary to make scientific computing resilient to cyberattacks.

About the IU Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research
CACR is a research center affiliated with the Indiana University Pervasive Technology Institute and a member of the Indiana University cybersecurity community, which includes the Maurer School of Law, the Kelley School of Business, the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, NSF Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, OmniSOC, ResearchSOC, REN-ISAC, the University Information Policy Office, and the University Information Security Office.