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New NSA-funded "Lablets" to Advance the Science of Security and Privacy

In March 2018, the National Security Agency initiated a new security and privacy research effort to deepen the scientific understanding of the design of trusted systems. NSA awarded contracts to six new "Lablets" to do foundational security and privacy research for the next five years. The Lablets are small multi-disciplinary labs at leading U.S. research institutions that are developing the cybersecurity and privacy breakthroughs needed to safe guard cyberspace. These institutions will continue NSA's Research Directorate's partnerships with academia.

The Lablets are part of NSA's Science of Security and Privacy (SoS) Initiative, launched in 2012. SoS promotes security and privacy science as a recognized field of research and encourages rigorous research methodologies. Under the latest contract, the University of Kansas, Vanderbilt University, and the International Computer Science Institute will join three of the original SoS Lablets: Carnegie-Mellon University, University of Illinois-Champaign, and North Carolina State University.

NSA invited the Lablet Principal Investigators along with their researchers to a two day kick-off meeting at NSA. This meeting entailed presentations of each SoS project along with research perspectives from NSA researchers. These two communities of researchers will continue to collaborate; bringing unique expertise to advance security research and to transition results to application.

Group Portrait in front of Research Directorate 'wave' logo. See caption for names.(L to R) Dr. Adam Tagert, Technical Lead of SoS; Dr. William Scherlis, Carnegie Mellon University; Dr. Perry Alexander, University of Kanas; Dr. Munindar Singh, North Carolina State University; Dr. Jonathan Aldrich, Carnegie Mellon University, Dr. William Sanders, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign; Dr. David Nicol, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign; Dr. Xenofon Koutsoukos, Vanderbilt University; & Dr. Serge Egelman, International Computer Science Institute.

The NSA SoS Lablets will focus on the discovery of formal underpinnings of the design of trusted systems which spans the disciplines of computer science, electrical engineering, mathematics, behavioral science, statistics, philosophy, public policy and physics. Lablet researchers are free to work with other institutions as needed. The Lablets are starting twenty projects in the following research areas: Challenges in Cyber-Physical Systems, Cybersecurity Metrics, Policy-Governed Secure Collaboration, Privacy, Resilient Architectures, Scalability and Composability, Understanding and Accounting for Human Behavior.

The Lablets were competitively selected from a solicitation of nearly 300 universities across the United States. The criteria for selection included scientific rigor of research projects, applicability to current challenges and efforts to grow a scientific community in security and privacy.

For more information about the SoS Initiative and its vigorous research programs please visit The NSA Research Directorate creates breakthroughs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These discoveries enable NSA to achieve and sustain intelligence advances against immediate and emerging threats to U.S. national security. As the only "in-house" organization in the Intelligence Community dedicated to advancing intelligence through science, the Research Directorate's collaboration with industry and academia provides a consistent advantage over the nation's adversaries.

NSA congratulates the universities that were selected, as well as the Research community as a whole, for supporting and contributing to the advancement of SoS. Focusing on this is, and will continue to be, a top priority for NSA and for the safety of this Nation.