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Tech Industry

University sets up information security center

John Hopkins University plans to establish an information security research center to try to delve into the complexities of Internet privacy and security.

To try to delve into the complexities of keeping information private and computers secure in an electronic world, Johns Hopkins University plans to establish an information security research center.

Funded by a $10 million gift from a donor the university declined to name, the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute will tap experts from within its academic community and its partners within business and government, the Baltimore-based university said in a statement Monday.

The center will focus on information privacy issues including intellectual property protection in the entertainment industry, the security of e-business transactions, and patient privacy in Web medical services and databases.

The institute will also work with businesses and government partners on ways to foil computer crime.

Internet privacy and security issues have long been discussed and researched by technology experts and analysts. But recent attacks on popular e-commerce and government computer systems in the form of viruses and hacker activity have made the issue top priority in boardrooms, government agencies, and academic circles across the country.

Along with tackling the issues of information privacy and computer security, the university wants to use the center to prepare full-time and part-time undergraduates and graduate students for jobs in the burgeoning information security field.

The institute expects to complete a formal business plan early in 2001 and then conduct a search for a permanent director. The first seminars to be conducted by the center will begin in the spring of 2001, with expanded courses and programs beginning next fall.

Gerald Masson, who chairs the department of computer science at Johns Hopkins, has been named interim director.