The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been awarded a $5.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to work on a research project exploring the challenges of cyber security in the era of cloud computing.

The award is part of $20 million awarded by the NSF to three projects for research into protecting the nation’s information infrastructure. These awards are funded through NSF’s interdisciplinary Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, now in its third year. The awards are part of 110 new cybersecurity research projects being funded in 33 states, with award amounts ranging from about $100,000 to $10 million.

UNC Computer Science Professor Michael Reiter is the principal investigator on the UNC project project. Jay Aikat, a research professor in computer science, is the UNC co-principal investigator. This project includes outside partners Stony Brook University, Duke University, N.C. State University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Most cloud computing research is driven by the perception that compared to users using their own infrastructure, cloud computing decreases user security, Reiter said in a statement.

“Instead we see new opportunities for improving the security of data and services by moving them to the cloud, and we plan on pursuing an aggressive research agenda to realize these opportunities,” Reiter said.

The project, dubbed “Project Silver,” will address various issues that arise with cloud computing including secure transport, authorization, user and software authentication and security monitoring. The university researchers will also work with commercial vendors and cloud operators. The project is also envisioned as enabling faculty from different institutions to incorporate cloud security material into their course offerings.