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Researchers in many fields increasingly use cloud computing and storage for computationally intensive scientific tasks. However, how secure is data stored in public and private clouds? “Not secure enough,” according to Computer Science Professors Anton Burtsev and Gene Tsudik. Fortunately, the two were recently awarded a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their proposal: “Horizon: Secure Large-Scale Scientific Cloud Computing.” The Horizon project will be a part of the NSF Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure (CICI) program created to “develop, deploy and integrate security solutions that benefit the scientific community by ensuring the integrity, resilience and reliability of the end-to-end scientific workflow.”

The focus of the proposed research is a novel cloud architecture called Horizon. It aims to provide data and computation security through strong isolation on end-hosts, fine-grained isolation in the cloud network and cloud-wide information flow control. As noted in the grant proposal, “Horizon aims to provide a practical foundation for developing secure cloud infrastructure suitable for large-scale research workflows that require both speed and security.” Burtsev and Tsudik plan to develop it using entirely open-source components and to make it freely available to scientists in both academia and industry.

— Shani Murray