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Bush signs security funding bill

The bill hands colleges and universities about $900 million during the next five years to create security centers, recruit graduate students, and pay for research.

Universities will receive nearly a billion dollars for computer security research under a bill that President Bush signed Wednesday.

The Cyber Security Research and Development Act (CSRDA) will hand colleges and universities about $900 million during the next five years to create security centers, recruit graduate students, and pay for research.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the final version of CSRDA on Nov. 12 by voice vote, following a unanimous Senate vote Oct. 16.

Critics have called CSDRA a combination of pork barrel politics and corporate welfare, but information technology firms and related professional associations have welcomed the sizable chunk of federal cash.

During the five-year period, CSDRA will allocate:

• $275 million for post-doctoral research fellowships and senior research fellowships. This work must be "related to the security of computer systems."

• $233 million for research grants in nine security-related areas. They include cryptography, privacy, wireless security, and "enhancement of law enforcement ability to detect, investigate and prosecute cybercrimes, including those that involve piracy of intellectual property."

• $144 million during five years to set up Computer and Network Security Research Centers that will be designed to increase "the number and quality of computer and network security researchers and other professionals."

• $95 million to give grants to colleges and universities to "establish or improve undergraduate and master's degree programs in computer and network security."

• $90 million to create traineeship programs for graduate students who pursue computer and network security research.

• $32 million for research designed to improve the security of networks and pay for "multidisciplinary, long-term, high-risk research on ways to improve the security of computer systems."

• $25 million for traineeship programs to encourage graduate students "to pursue academic careers in cybersecurity upon completion of doctoral degrees."

Earlier this week, Bush signed the Department of Homeland Security bill, which allocates $500 million for the first year for research into technologies to boost homeland security. On Wednesday, two information security companies said they had signed a $10.8 million contract with the new department.