Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Trusted CI Extended through 2019, Trusted CI Expansion, ResearchSOC, and Hiring!

Dear Trusted CI community,

I’m writing to share a number of pieces of Trusted CI news, starting with the great news that Trusted CI, through the funding of a supplemental proposal from NSF, has been extended through 2019. This funding is also going to expand Trusted CI’s team and activities in a number of important ways:

  • Dr. Dana Brunson of Oklahoma State is joining Trusted CI to lead a new Fellows Program. This will broaden Trusted CI’s impact to underrepresented groups, NSF Ten Big Ideas, and across NSF directorates.

  • Florence Hudson has joined Trusted CI to lead efforts to foster transitioning cybersecurity research to practice. She has already been in touch with a number of you in identifying cybersecurity gaps in our community that research could fill. If you have ideas in this area, please share them to

  • Dr. Sean Peisert of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will be joining Trusted CI to advance the Open Science Cyber Risk Profile and integrate it with the new Trusted CI Framework.

I shared some additional details on this expansion as well as Trusted CIs accomplishments on a recent NSF OAC webinar.

I’m also excited to announce the funding of the ResearchSOC. Funded as a collaborative security response center under NSF CICI 18-547, ResearchSOC will be led by myself, and my Trusted CI co-PI Jim Marsteller, along with colleagues from Duke, Indiana University, and the University of California San Diego. ResearchSOC and Trusted CI will be closely coordinated in delivering cybersecurity leadership and operational services respectively. For more details on the ResearchSOC, please see my recent presentation at the CICI PI meeting.

I also want to congratulate Trusted CI co-PI Craig Jackson on his new project, PACT, supported by $2m of funding from the Department of Defense to undertake assessments for the DoD community. On a bittersweet note, this means he will be reducing his time on Trusted CI and stepping down as a co-PI. Craig has been instrumental in that role in Trusted CI’s success and I thank him for his contributions and leadership. This project will be piloting assessments soon with an open call, so check out that unique opportunity for an in-depth cybersecurity assessment.

Finally, if Trusted CI or ResearchSOC sounds like something you would enjoy being a part of it, we have multiple positions open at Indiana University to be part of the CACR team and contribute to Trusted CI and our other activities. Please consider applying and sharing with those who may be interested.

Thanks to all the community for their support that makes Trusted CI possible. We look forward to continuing to serve you in meeting the cybersecurity needs of your trusted science.

Von Welch
Director and PI, Trusted CI, the NSF Cybersecurity Center of Excellence
Director, Indiana University Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Trusted CI Webinar October 22nd at 11am ET: Urgent Problems and (Mostly) Open Solutions with Jeff Spies

Jeffrey Spies is presenting the talk "Urgent Problems and (Mostly) Open Solutions" on Monday October 22nd at 11am (Eastern).

Please register here. Be sure to check spam/junk folder for registration confirmation email.
We're at an important stage in the history of science. The internet has dramatically accelerated the pace and scale of communication and collaboration. We have the computational resources to mine and discover complex relationships within massive datasets from diverse sources. This will usher in a new era of knowledge discovery that will undoubtedly lead to life-saving innovation, and access to content is paramount. But how do we balance transparency and privacy or transparency and IP concerns? How do we protect data from being selectively deleted? How do we decide what to make accessible with limited resources? How do we go from accessible to reusable and then to an ecosystem that fosters inclusivity and diversity?

And what if we no longer own the content we'd like to be made accessible? Such is the case with most journal articles. Skewed incentives have developed around centuries-old publishing practices that reward what is publishable rather than what is rigorous, reproducible, replicable, and reusable. In exchange for publications, we assign our copyrights to publishers, who then lease access back to us and our institutions at ever-increasing prices. And now publishers are turning their eyes--and very large profit margins--towards capturing the rest of the research workflow, including data and analytics. In contrast to the societal-level change that could occur if this research content were in an environment that maximized innovation and reuse, this is very dangerous.

This talk will discuss these urgent problems and the psychology that makes fixing them easier said than done as well as propose a practical, incremental approach to solving them via decentralized technologies, policy, and respect for researcher workflow.

Speaker Bio:
Jeffrey Spies is the founder of 221B LLC, a strategic consulting firm combining expertise in research technology, methodology, and workflow to accelerate projects across higher-ed. Previously, he co-founded and served as the CTO of the Center for Open Science, a non-profit formed to maintain his Open Science Framework. Jeff has a Ph.D. in Quantitative Psychology from the University of Virginia.

Presentations are recorded and include time for questions with the audience.

Join Trusted CI's announcements mailing list for information about upcoming events. To submit topics or requests to present, see our call for presentations. Archived presentations are available on our site under "Past Events."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

An Open Science Cybersecurity Program Framework

In 2014, Trusted CI published a “Guide to Developing Cybersecurity Programs for NSF Science and Engineering Projects,” also known simply as “the Guide”. Since its creation, Trusted CI has received tremendous community feedback attesting to its usefulness, including half of the respondents in the most recent Community Survey adopting it as a form of guidance for shaping their cybersecurity programs. As we observed the open science community’s interaction with the original document, it became apparent that improvements and revisions could make it more maintainable and thus more readily kept up-to-date, more applicable to a wider range of science projects, and more approachable to scientists and PIs, all without losing any of its technical value.
Based on our experience interacting with engagements, lively training sessions, the Summit, and the benchmarking survey, we knew we needed to spell out the basic realities of building a cyber program in a way that addressed the variability we’ve observed in the community. During a substantial revision of the training on the Guide for PEARC’18, it became clear that what was needed was not just a guide, but a framework for establishing and maintaining an open science cybersecurity program at any project scale and stage in a project’s lifecycle. Such a framework would be useful even for projects having significant compliance requirements (e.g., FISMA, HIPAA, NIST SP 800-171) in that it provides a starting point for evolving a cybersecurity program rather than hundreds of pages dense with unprioritized requirements. Work on revising the Guide into a framework and addressing the above goals began in earnest earlier this year and builds on efforts assisting NSF in drafting a cybersecurity section for the Large Facilities Manual. The current schedule calls for a first draft to be available in November 2018, and version 0.9 to be available in January 2019, with the publication of version 1.0 in March 2019. An additional blog posting and announcement will be made at those milestones and community feedback is strongly encouraged. We need your feedback to help us get this right!

Preview of the Framework

Trusted CI’s framework is built around four pillars: Mission Alignment, Governance, Resources, and Controls. Like the pillars supporting any structure, all are vital and required for an efficient and effective cybersecurity program.

Mission Alignment:

Cybersecurity programs ultimately exist to improve productivity by protecting the interests of the project’s mission. The program must center on appropriate protection for the information assets vital to the project’s mission. The information assets that are critical will change over a project’s life cycle, so the accuracy of the information asset inventory is a basic requirement. To simplify understanding the protection requirements of the information assets, an information classification scheme allows for conceptually grouping assets by the kind of protection required. External requirements may also play a role in the level and type of protection.


Cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of a few but involves project leadership, administrators responsible for information assets, project personnel, and external users. Policies must clearly define the roles and responsibilities for all these contributors to the cybersecurity program. Additional policies are required to address a range of issues from appropriate use to incident handling. Periodic evaluation of the cybersecurity program is necessary to validate that the allocation of resources to controls is effective and efficient for the appropriate protection of project information resources.


People, budgets, tools, and services are all required to operate a cybersecurity program. Finding and retaining people with cybersecurity expertise can be challenging. In addition to technical skills, important traits include the abilities to teach, communicate, and negotiate. Smaller, stand-alone projects without a supporting infrastructure typically spend a higher percentage of the IT budget on cybersecurity due to economies of scale. The actual money might be in a separate cybersecurity budget, but often it is part of some other organizational budget (e.g., the IT budget). Tools and third-party services can help fill gaps in the program but have to be used with care since they can easily place additional strain on both the budget and the need for experienced personnel to effectively use them.


Controls are the safeguards and countermeasures to ensure the appropriate protection of an information asset according to the asset’s information classification. Control selection and implementation are ongoing processes in any cybersecurity program due to technical or organizational changes and the dynamic nature of threats and vulnerabilities. The Center for Information Security (CIS) Controls are widely regarded as an authoritative, reasonable, and prioritized. The first six of these controls are the basic, minimal set that each project must either provide or ensure are provided by a supporting infrastructure. Additional controls enhance the protection for mission-critical systems and data, and systems or data requiring specialized controls (e.g., SCADA systems, software repositories, critical or high-speed scientific data flows).

Cyberinfrastructure Vulnerabilities 2018 Q3 Report

The Cyberinfrastructure Vulnerabilities team provides concise announcements on critical vulnerabilities that affect science cyberinfrastructure (CI) of research and education centers, including those threats which may impact scientific instruments. This service is available to all CI community members by subscribing to Trusted CI’s mailing lists (see below).

We monitor a number of sources for software vulnerabilities of interest. For those issues which warrant alerts to the Trusted CI mailing lists, we also provide guidance on how operators and developers can reduce risks and mitigate threats. We coordinate with XSEDE and the NSF supercomputing centers on drafting and distributing alerts to minimize duplication of effort and benefit from community expertise.Some of the sources we monitor for possible threats to CI include:

In 3Q2018 the Cyberinfrastructure Vulnerabilities team issued the following 4 vulnerability alerts to 91 subscribers:

If you wish to subscribe to the Cyberinfrastructure Vulnerability Alerts mailing list you may do so through This mailing list is public and the archives are available at

If you believe you have information on a cyberinfrastructure vulnerability, let us know by sending us an email at