Butler awarded $400,000 NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace CAREER Award

Kevin Butler, an assistant professor in the department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Oregon, has won a 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace CAREER award. The award will support Butler’s research developing techniques and architectures for securely storing and monitoring embedded systems such as smart grids and industrial control systems.

“Embedded systems currently rely on local and often insecure state retention for process control and subsequent forensic analysis,” Butler explained. “As critical embedded control systems such as smart grids generate increasing amounts of data and become ever more connected to other systems, secure retention and management of that data becomes increasingly important.”
Butler’s research focuses on security issues as they relate to storage systems, large-scale systems architectures, and networks. His other research areas of interest include cloud computing, Internet security, mobile phone security and privacy, applied cryptosystems, and using secure hardware to enforce systems security. He is the director and founder of the Oregon Systems Infrastructure Research and Information Security (OSIRIS) Laboratory. The lab’s mission is to discover new research methodologies, technologies, and systems that address timely and important issues in securing computer systems and networks.

Created by the National Science and Technology Council with the cooperation of the NSF, the NSF Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace CAREER award is part of a broad, coordinated federal strategic plan for cybersecurity research and development. The CAREER Award is NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

“Cyberspace has transformed the daily lives of people for the better,” a program statement reads. “The rush to adopt cyberspace, however, has exposed its fragility and vulnerabilities: corporations, agencies, national infrastructure and individuals have been victims of cyber-attacks.”

Butler’s award will allow his research team to examine vulnerabilities relating to generating and storing data in critical embedded systems, which are often resource-constrained and potentially develop autonomously secure storage devices that act as resilient storage for embedded devices. One of their research goals is to provide a new baseline for producing and storing data generated within critical infrastructures.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Butler has been recognized with this award for his outstanding systems security research,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, vice president for research and innovation and dean of the graduate school. “He and his team in the department of Computer and Information Science are helping to shape our information society by making critical data more secure.”