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Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security

CERIAS Leads Information Security Efforts in Purdue’s Homeland Security Institute

Mon, November 11, 2002General

CERIAS will join with top business executives and government officials from around the United States this week to help Purdue University develop a strategic plan for its new Homeland Security Institute.  With over 150 Purdue researchers - from physicists to philosophers - working in areas related to homeland security, Purdue University faculty will team with outside experts for a two-day planning conference for the new institute.

The conference has been organized so that sessions address key concepts in the White House’s “National Strategy for Homeland Security,” said Dennis Engi, head of Purdue’s School of Industrial Engineering, who will be director of the new institute. The national plan has three strategic objectives: to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, to reduce the nation’s vulnerability to terrorism and to minimize the damage from attacks.

Those objectives are focused into six “critical mission areas:” intelligence and warning, border and transportation security, domestic counter terrorism, protecting critical infrastructure, defending against catastrophic threats, and emergency preparedness and response. The U.S. strategy for homeland security deals not only with acts of terrorism but also with natural disasters.

Federal funding also is being sought to support research aimed at keeping America safe from attacks over the Internet, creating simulations that could be used to design terrorism-resistant buildings and developing a war-room-like system that continually keeps officials updated about the progress of an attack and efforts to control it.

The list of 18 experts making up the institute’s external advisory council includes executives from Boeing Co., United Parcel Service and Hewlett-Packard Co., and government officials from the U.S. departments of State and Defense, as well as state and local emergency management leaders.

During the meeting, these 18 outside experts will join 18 Purdue faculty members to create six discussion groups, one for each of the six critical mission areas in the “National Strategy for Homeland Security.” Each group will be made up of six people - three outside experts and three Purdue faculty members.

Critical work already is underway on the Purdue campus and includes:

  • The university’s Center for Sensing Science and Technology is working to create innovative types of sensors that rapidly detect nuclear materials and biological and chemical agents.
  • The Purdue Center for Food Safety Engineering is working to develop better ways to protect the nation’s food supply from biological and chemical contaminants.
  • The National Biosecurity Resource Center for Animal Health Emergencies, at Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine, is working to ensure the safety of livestock and pets and to prevent the spread of diseases between animals and people. Other research is underway to study ways to develop an early warning system for terrorism-related biological attacks by quickly detecting illnesses in pets, which often become sick before humans.
  • Researchers in health science are studying the risks associated with the transport of chemical, biological and radiological materials by ships, trains, trucks and airplanes.
  • The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, CERIAS, is working to improve network and computer security. The first center in the world to take a comprehensive approach to network and computer security, CERIAS includes researchers from sociology, computer science, psychology, criminology, political science, ethics, engineering, communication, management and economics.
  • The Purdue eBusiness Research Center is working toward the development of an effective Indiana homeland defense program, including “synthetic environments,” programs that help to predict how millions of people might react to situations ranging from a terrorist attack to product marketing.
  • Purdue’s School of Nuclear Engineering is involved in issues ranging from power plant security to materials and waste management. Engineers in the Purdue University Multidimensional Test Assembly facility evaluate safe nuclear reactor designs under all possible conditions.
  • Researchers in the humanities and social sciences also are directly involved in issues of homeland security, studying the historical, economic and political influences of terrorism.
  • The Center for Cultural Exchange organizes a series of international and interdisciplinary cultural exchanges focusing on the regions of North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. The exchanges foster a better understanding between people in the United States and Muslim nations, ultimately reducing tensions and the potential for terrorism.

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