BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Universities and research institutions often pool resources to save money and share mutual benefits. One such area that is becoming increasingly critical where institutions need to share resources is cybersecurity. That’s why several Big Ten Academic Alliance schools pooled resources to create a new security operations center, OmniSOC. And today with the announcement of ResearchSOC’s merger with OmniSOC, those benefits extend to large NSF research facilities.
OmniSOC launched in 2018 as a first-of-its-kind higher education security operations center (SOC). OmniSOC provides 24/7 network security monitoring for its networks, proactive threat hunting, and cybersecurity advisory services.
Today, OmniSOC housed at Indiana University is higher education’s only collaborative, multistate SOC, the only collaborative SOC supporting National Science Foundation (NSF) research, and the only SOC with a multistate institutional data-sharing agreement for researchers. In the past year alone, OmniSOC has added eight new partner institutions.
The Research Security Operations Center (ResearchSOC) was funded by the NSF in 2018 to provide cybersecurity as a service focused on NSF large facilities research projects. Its mission began as a collaborative security response center whose expertise and resources are leveraged by the entire research and education community to improve the cybersecurity posture of scientific cyberinfrastructure and to raise awareness of security threats facing the scientific community.
ResearchSOC is a multi-institutional project that includes cybersecurity leadership from Indiana University, Duke University, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, and the University of California, San Diego with a stakeholder advisory board from the research and education community.
ResearchSOC enters sustainable operations
ResearchSOC now begins its next phase as a self-funded service offering from Indiana University’s OmniSOC that includes a package of technologies, training, and personnel specifically designed to meet the cybersecurity needs of NSF research facilities. While it maintains its status as an NSF project and a small amount of NSF funding, it is in sustainable operations with nearly all its funding coming from being contracted by NSF Major Facilities.
Combining services only makes sense for us to serve the higher education and research community more effectively and efficiently.
Von Welch is executive director of OmniSOC and principal investigator for ResearchSOC.
“The goal of OmniSOC is to coordinate across member institutions, reducing the time from first awareness of a cybersecurity threat anywhere to mitigation everywhere,” said Welch. “The ResearchSOC name will continue to persist, describing a combination of OmniSOC’s 24/7 monitoring, combined with vulnerability identification, decoy computers (honeypots), dedicated project expertise, and other services to make NSF facilities resilient to cyberattacks and capable of supporting trustworthy, productive research. Combining services only makes sense for us to serve the higher education and research community more effectively and efficiently.”
The NSF is excited to see the initial funding of ResearchSOC mature into a sustainable offering for the community.
Robert Beverly is the ResearchSOC program officer at the National Science Foundation.
“The security of research and education cyberinfrastructure is an increasingly important component in supporting the NSF’s mission of advancing science and discovery,” said Beverly. “NSF-supported facilities, researchers, and cyberinfrastructures present unique cybersecurity challenges that ResearchSOC has helped address through their tailored operational security monitoring and assessment services. The NSF is excited to see the initial funding of ResearchSOC mature into a sustainable offering for the community.”
OmniSOC’s striking growth reflected in membership
OmniSOC partner institutions and regional networks include Indiana University, Case Western Reserve University, I-Light, Southern Crossroads, Clemson University, Creighton University, Lehigh University, Northwestern University, Rutgers University, Santa Clara University, and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. With the ResearchSOC merger, the membership expands to include the Gemini Observatory, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the National Earth Science Geodetic Facility (GAGE/ UNAVCO), the National Resource for Translational and Developmental Proteomics, and the Academic Research Fleet.
OmniSOC operates in conjunction with the formidable capabilities of the Global Network Operations Center (GlobalNOC) housed at Indiana University. It also makes use of threat intelligence insights from the Research and Education Networking Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) housed at Indiana University. OmniSOC also partners with counterparts in Australia, Canada, and the UK in a cybersecurity threat intelligence-sharing partnership.
OmniSOC was founded by members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance to reduce the time from first detection of a security threat to campus mitigation. Today, OmniSOC’s members include higher education and research institutions of all sizes, both public and private. OmniSOC, through ResearchSOC, supplies cybersecurity for the nation’s greatest research.
OmniSOC is a member of the Indiana University cybersecurity community, which includes the Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN-ISAC) and the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. See leading.iu.edu for more information.