Monday, February 6, 2012

HR 3834 Introduced – Cyber Security Research

Late last month Rep Hall (R,TX), the Chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, introduced HR 3834, the Advancing America’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act of 2012. This bill amends the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 to authorize activities for support of networking and information technology research.

Cyber-Physical Systems

While the bill spends a great deal of time substituting the words ‘networking and information’ for the term ‘high-performance computing’ there are some changes made to the research priorities outlined in the original act. One of those changes deals with the introduction of a new research topic, cyber-physical systems. That is defined in §2(f)(1) as:

“physical or engineered systems whose networking and information technology functions and physical elements are deeply integrated and are actively connected to the physical world through sensors, actuators, or other means to perform monitoring and control functions”.

I cannot find anywhere in the bill where the term ‘industrial control system’ is used, but this ‘cyber-physical system’ certainly sounds like the definition, in the broadest sense, of an industrial control system.

Sec 4(a)(3) amends Section 101(a)(1) of the High-Performance Computing Act of 1991 (15 U.S.C. 5511) calling for a collaborative research and development effort that provides “for increased understanding of the scientific principles of cyber-physical systems and improve the methods available for the design, development, and operation of cyber-physical systems that are characterized by high reliability, safety, and security”.

Finally §4(b) requires the establishment a temporary university-industry task force “to explore mechanisms for carrying out collaborative research and development activities for cyber-physical systems, including the related technologies required to enable these systems, through a consortium or other appropriate entity with participants from institutions of higher education, Federal laboratories, and industry. The task force would prepare a report to Congress on its findings and then disband.

No Funding

The bill does not provide any specific authorization for funding this collaborative research and development effort. The existing 15 USC 5511 language calls for the President’s budget to allocate funding for the National High-Performance Computing Program (to be renamed by this bill as the Networking and Information Technology Program) from the various agencies that support the Program.

The only hope that the research activities outlined for cyber-physical systems would get some specific future funding would be if a future Congress were to provide that funding after receiving, reviewing and acting on the task force recommendations called for above. So hold your breath and hope for the best.

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