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Call for SANReN sponsored directed research: Network Security

Publication Date: 
Monday, October 2, 2017

SANReN herewith requests competitive proposals from South African universities to obtain the SANReN grant programme that is designed to financially assist post-graduate students performing research in the fields of computer network security. This grant programme is aimed at developing advanced research capacity and a pipeline of computer science/engineering graduates, skilled and knowledgeable in these areas.

Contact Person

Hina Patel

+12 841 3777

hpatel@csir.co.za

1. Introduction

The freedom and opportunities that the Internet brings to the modern world also unfortunately enable criminal elements and state agents to freely operate and attack the commercial, private and state systems. When compared to traditional crime, attacks online are far cheaper to launch. Internet based attacks can have consequences that impact real world. From slight nuances to attacks on nuclear power stations, the Internet has become a conduit for attacks. With interconnectivity being so complex and vast, attacks may be hidden or devastating for network availability. Hence SANReN should investigate and implement mechanisms to protect the Internet.

Several technologies are available which make attack detection and risk mitigation viable. These include attack sensors such as Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Honeypots, Firewalls, Network Telescopes and various system logs. Each of these technologies is highly specialised and may detect a myriad of events within a network as well as possibly identify the sources of such attacks and intrusion. Although some of these systems are mature, significant scope exists into directed research in the development, application and methods used by such technologies.

The South African National Research Network (SANReN) is a high-speed network dedicated to science, research, education and innovation traffic and has been rolled-out in a phased manner since 2007. It is part of a comprehensive South African government approach to a National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System (NICIS) to ensure successful participation of South African researchers and scientists in the global knowledge production effort.

This call is, directed at all Higher Education Institutions (HEI), to develop capacity needed to support the role and functions of SANReN with directed and targeted research into network security.

2. Proposals

SANReN herewith requests competitive proposals from South African universities to obtain the SANReN grant programme that is designed to financially assist post-graduate students performing research in the fields of computer network security. This grant programme is aimed at developing advanced research capacity and a pipeline of computer science/engineering graduates, skilled and knowledgeable in these areas.

Funding will be awarded to a university that is deemed to be most capable of leading Honours, Masters and PhD level students as well as post-doctoral researchers who perform research aligned to SANReN strategic objectives and goals in the field of network security.  In addition, this funding can be used for bridging courses for exceptional students wishing to change their study area to that of network security (for example BSc Mathematics student who wants to change his/her expertise field to network security).

Proposals will be evaluated on the extent to which research topics align with the intent of this call, staff track record (in terms of publications, supervisory history, etc), envisaged outcomes of the proposal, and students’ past performance. A Grant Programme Adjudication Committee (GPAC) constituted by the CSIR will adjudicate the proposals.

3. Call: Network Security

SANReN commits to provide up to R500 000 grant funding per year for three years to be allocated by the successful university to computer science/engineering students performing SANReN approved targeted research into network security as student support. The following maximum financial assistance will be allocated per student per year:

  • Bridging: R 50 000
  • Honours: R 50 000
  • Masters: R 90 000
  • PhD: R 160 000
     

Note: The number of students per grade would be determined after the grant has been awarded.

In addition, institutions can motivate to allocate a portion of this funding to hardware and/or software infrastructure that will support students receiving grants.  Lastly, the prost-graduate students that are awarded grants from this programme are expected to spend two to six weeks at CSIR Pretoria Campus per year, working on SANReN projects.

4. Governance of the Grant Programme

A Grant Programme Governance Committee (GPGC), drawn from membership from SANReN and the successful university, will govern this grant programme. The GPGC will meet twice per year to review new potential grant candidates, review the performance of existing candidates, as well as decide on the financial, operational and strategic direction of the programme.

The successful university will be required to advertise the grant to prospective students nationally from all South African HEIs and commit to fulfill its role with primary student supervision. In addition, SANReN could to provide co-supervisors for the Masters and PhD students.

Universities that wish to apply for the grant programme should contact Dr. Renier van Heerden at rvheerden@csir.co.za before 15 October 2017 and provide the following information:

  • List of publications from 2013 and supervisory history with respect to network security.
  • A Business Plan of five to 10 pages that provides motivation, envisaged outcomes and research topics, together with implementation information.
  • Abridged CV of supporting and supervisory academic staff.
  • A provisional project budget.