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NSF & Congress

Hearing Summary - Agency Response to Cyberspace Policy Review

June 16, 2009

Dr. Jeannette Wing, the Assistant Director for the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF) testified at the Subcommittees on Technology and Innovation and Research and Science and Education, House Committee on Science and Technology hearing entitled "Agency Response to Cyberspace Policy Review" on June 16, 2009.

Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR) stated that in order to achieve cyber security outcomes such as fewer breaches of federal systems and fewer cases of identity theft, "it is essential to first conduct a review of our federal cyber security structure and efforts."

In the opening of her testimony, Dr. Wing stressed that "many cyber security measures deployed today build upon the fundamental research outcomes generated decades ago" and that any cyberspace strategy in the near and long-term "must include investments in fundamental, unclassified, open, long-term research."

NSF has made several fundamental research contributions including cryptographic schemes and cryptographic-based authentications which help with today's online banking, program analyses and verification techniques that prevent cyber attacks like worms, machine learning and data mining approaches that are used to filter spam, and CAPTCHAs-distorted text that only humans, not machines, can decipher that ensures that humans are purchasing tickets online. Additionally, NSF funded research is being used in corporations as well as start-up companies.

NSF invested $137 million in research on trustworthy systems as well as coordinates its cyber security research with other federal agencies through the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program.

Dr. Wing concluded that there are "several areas ripe for industry-university collaborations" including providing industry data to academics and having academia work on solving current and potential future industry problems making academia "proactive, not just reactive."

Other witnesses at the hearing were Ms. Cita Furlani, Director Information Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); Dr. Robert F. Leheny, Acting Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); Dr. Peter Fonash, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Cyber Security Communications, US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).