By Bill Steele

Fred B. Schneider, Cornell professor of computer science, has been named chief scientist at the newly created Griffiss Institute for Information Assurance.

In addition, Robert Constable, Cornell's dean for computing and information science, has been named to the institute's board of directors. The institute, launched in September with $4.5 million in New York state funding, is a collaboration of private-sector companies, local economic development groups and colleges, universities and research institutions aimed at ensuring the security of information systems. The institute's aim is to develop a workforce of information-security professionals and create a locale for information-assurance services and products.

Among other resources, it will draw on the Information Assurance Institute (IAI) at Cornell, a joint research effort of Cornell computer scientists and U.S. Air Force researchers, which Schneider directs. "The focus of the IAI is on research," Schneider said. "The new Griffiss Institute will provide practical support to New York state businesses and institutions to improve computer security." Schneider was appointed by the Griffiss Institute board of directors at its first meeting, Nov. 14, according to board chairman Michael A. Miravalle. The first employee of the institute, Schneider will split his time between the institute and Cornell. The institute will be housed in a renovated building in Griffiss Technology Park, formerly Griffiss Air Force Base, in Rome, N.Y.

The new institute is positioned to apply for support from the federal government under the Cyber Security Research and Development Act, introduced by House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.). The act authorizes $903 million over five years to ensure that the United States is better prepared to prevent and combat terrorist attacks on private and government computers. Under the legislation, the National Science Foundation will create new cybersecurity research centers, undergraduate program grants, community college grants and fellowships, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology will establish new programs for partnerships between academia and industry. "Dr. Schneider is extraordinarily well qualified to help build Griffiss Institute into a first-class operation. He is not only an internationally renowned researcher but somebody who has been active in setting the research agenda in information assurance both in the United States and abroad. We are very happy that he is willing to join in our venture," said Miravalle, president and chief executive officer of Dolphin Technology, a high-tech firm specializing in cybersecurity, information assurance and other defense-related computer intelligence services.

A native New Yorker, Schneider earned a bachelor's degree from Cornell in 1975. He earned a master's degree in 1977 and his doctorate in 1978, both from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He returned to Cornell and joined the faculty in 1978. From 1998 to 2000 he chaired the National Academy of Sciences study committee on information systems trustworthiness, leading to the publication of the book Trust in Cyberspace, which he edited. He was elected professor-at-large at the University of Tromsoe, Norway, in 1996, and now spends one week each year lecturing about computing at the world's northernmost university.

Over the past 30 years, Schneider has worked in a broad set of research areas related to information assurance, including software engineering, fault-tolerance and computer security. An author of two books and more than 100 technical papers, he also is an active member of scientific advisory boards at Intel, Microsoft, IBM and Cigital. He served as a principal in an Internet software development company that was acquired by Oslo-based FAST ASA, which today competes with Google through its Alltheweb search engine. Schneider remains affiliated with FAST as a senior technical consultant on matters of security and reliability.

"I have a considerably better perspective on what scientific questions are important by virtue of my close ties to industry, and I regard my involvement in the Griffiss Institute as a natural next step," said Schneider. Other officers selected at the first board meeting were Todd Hutton, president of Utica College; David Gillette, executive assistant to the president at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn; Doug Robinson, president and chief executive officer of Utica National Insurance; and J.K. Hage III, a Utica attorney and legal representative for the Griffiss Institute.