Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center Introduces SAFE-Net

SAFE-Net, a program of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, funded by the National Science Foundation, raises awareness about safe practices in use of the Internet

PITTSBURGH, PA., November 10, 2009 – Do internet passwords protect personal information from unwanted intrusion? How can you be sure if someone on-line is who they say they are? Does anti-virus software really protect your hard-drive?

To help parents, educators, students and individuals with these questions and many others associated with wide usage of the Internet, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) has created SAFE-Net, a program of cyber-security awareness. Through SAFE-Net, PSC presents workshops that train educators and provide materials for classroom learning – developed in collaboration with the CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) Program at CMU’s Software Engineering Institute. These materials address cyber threats, measures of protection, and questions of cyber ethics that arise as a result of social networking and other wide uses of the Internet.

The SAFE-Net website provides free information, including classroom and parent materials about cyber-security issues, with lessons geared to grade levels 1-3, 4-6, and 7-12.

SAFE-Net website (free materials): http://csa.3rox.net

“Many Internet users lack an understanding of common threats they may face online,” says Cheryl Begandy, PSC director of education, outreach and training. “Among parents, many lack confidence that their child is safe when using the Internet.”

“Cyber security involves more than small barriers, such as anti-virus software and knowing to delete spam,” says Wiam Younes, training and awareness coordinator with CMU’s Information Security Office, who has collaborated with PSC on SAFE-Net content development and training. “It requires a wall of defenses, and the SAFE-Net program is geared to provide thorough cyber-security education in three areas: cyber ethics, cyber safety, and cyber security.”

PSC has held two Cyber-Safety Train-the-Teacher workshops introducing SAFE-Net to 18 Pittsburgh-area teachers.

SAFE-Net is funded by an NSF grant for Cyber Safety Awareness.

As part of PSC’s involvement with TeraGrid, the NSF program for comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure, PSC staff have led TeraGrid’s working group on cyber-security, experience that contributed to development of SAFE-Net.

Recent research at PSC by CMU researchers has brought national attention to the vulnerability of personal information on the Internet: http://www.psc.edu/science/2009/privacy