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Cyberinfrastructure Integration Research Center and HathiTrust Research Center partner to enhance cybersecurity for Analytics Gateway

HathiTrust, a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries, preserves and provides access to more than 17 million digitized items in the HathiTrust Digital Library. Many texts are not readable online through the digital library due to copyright law.  

The HathiTrust Research Center, co-hosted by the Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University (PTI) and the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, develops tools and services such as the Analytics Gateway for text data mining of the entire collection for scholarly research. This requires a level of security that prevents intellectual property misuse of copyrighted items. 

Although part of the same organization, HathiTrust and the HathiTrust Research Center have historically maintained separate authentication methods for their distinct sets of services. To streamline user access while still providing the robust authentication required to manage and monitor appropriate use of in-copyright materials, HathiTrust and the HathiTrust Research Center have integrated Custos security services into the Analytics Gateway. 

Michelle Dalmau

At the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities, we have supported a number of researchers working with HathiTrust collections and HathiTrust Research Center tools. The separate authentication systems could be a source of confusion for some users, and the new single-sign-on is a great step forward.

Michelle Dalmau, co-director, Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities, Indiana University

Custos, developed by the Cyberinfrastructure Integration Research Center (CIRC), also part of PTI, provides a single, open-source software solution that addresses the specific security requirements of science gateways such as the Analytics Gateway by offering an integrated approach to authentication, authorization, user management, group and role management, and security credential management. 

“Users of HathiTrust and the HathiTrust Research Center don’t generally see the two as separate entities, generating confusion about the authentication process,” said John Walsh, director of the HathiTrust Research Center and associate professor of information and library science at the Indiana University Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. “Custos forms a secure bridge between the two entities and creates a consistent login experience for all users.” 

Users who are associated with a HathiTrust member institution or with any institution supported by the federated identity management platform CILogon can now log in with their institutional username and password, rather than using separate credentials for HathiTrust and the HathiTrust Research Center. 

“Custos addresses a set of problems that are common to many online services, which need to securely manage users, connect to many different authentication systems, manage groups, and manage secure connections to other resources,” said Marlon Pierce, director of CIRC and principal investigator on the Custos project. “Together with the HathiTrust Research Team, we’ve prototyped more complicated scenarios with some of their advanced tools that we will next be looking to move to production usage.” 

Custos is funded by the National Science Foundation award #1840003.