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ESnet, CENIC Announce Joint Cybersecurity Initiative

CRD’s Sean Peisert to serve as director of initiative

January 19, 2016


Sean Peisert will be director of the CENIC/ESnet Cybersecurity Initiative.

The Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet, and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC) have announced an initiative to jointly develop cybersecurity strategies and research projects.

Sean Peisert of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Computational Research Division will be director of the new CENIC/ESnet Joint Cybersecurity Initiative. Peisert, who was also recently named as the chief cybersecurity strategist for CENIC, is a noted security expert who has worked extensively in computer security research and development. He will continue his work at Berkeley Lab and as an adjunct faculty member of the University of California at Davis.

Although the defense of information systems and networks is critical for all modern enterprises, scientific research organizations like ESnet and CENIC face particular challenges: support of open science and, increasingly, big-data science; diverse research portfolios; openness to experimentation across intellectual domains; openness to collaborations within and across institutions – regionally, nationally and internationally; and the need for seamless access to remote data sources, scientific tools and computing resources.

Both organizations play key roles in advancing research. Managed by Berkeley Lab, ESnet provides services to more than 40 DOE research sites, including the entire national laboratory system, its supercomputing facilities, and its major scientific instruments. CENIC is a nonprofit organization that operates the California Research & Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the needs of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and other vital public-serving institutions in California.

“CENIC is a critical partner of ESnet’s, and we already collaborate actively to improve research outcomes in California and beyond,” said ESnet Director Greg Bell. “This new initiative is timely and exciting. Because data exchange is the lifeblood of open science, both organizations require innovative and flexible cybersecurity solutions in order to succeed. Aligning our strategies and teams is an important step forward.” 

In particular, the organizations seek to establish themselves as a collective center of excellence and “go-to resource” for cybersecurity strategy for the research and education networking communities both in California and beyond. The two organizations will explore ways to leverage each other’s strengths in cybersecurity strategy, research goals, operational practices and technologies, and will develop a roadmap to achieve closer coordination of the CENIC and ESnet cybersecurity teams.

“Effective cybersecurity is not only about building a thicker skin but about building a stronger immune system,” said ESnet Chief Technology Officer Inder Monga. “Collaboration on cybersecurity helps us take advantage of variety of our experiences with networks and R&E customers. Coupled with ESnet’s Science DMZ security architecture and the Pacific Research Platform, this collaboration will lead to stronger security for data-intensive science applications.”  

Peisert brings extensive experience to the security partnership. In addition to his work at Berkeley Lab, he is an adjunct faculty member at UC Davis, where his work covers a broad cross-section of computer security. In recent years he has particularly focused his research and development work on security in high-performance computing environments, cyber-physical system security and high-assurance systems.

Peisert is active in the technical community as well. In addition to chairing two workshops in 2015 for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research, he is vice chair of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Security & Privacy; is an editorial board member of IEEE Security & Privacy; is a steering committee member and past general chair of the New Security Paradigms Workshop (NSPW); steering committee member and past program co-chair of the Workshop on Cyber Security Experimentation and Test (CSET); and was past general chair for the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, the flagship conference for security research.

“Cybersecurity is a daunting problem for research and education networks, where we believe the community should be unconstrained by the physical location of data, scientific tools, computational resources or research collaborators, and where global networks are an essential substrate for scientific collaboration,” said Louis Fox, President and CEO of CENIC. “Our partnership with ESnet, one of the world’s leading R&E Networks, advances like ESnet’s Science DMZ,which makes possible broad-scale scientific collaborations like the Pacific Research Platform, and the leadership of Dr. Peisert – all of these will provide the roadmap for ensuring that scientific research is both open and secure. Ultimately, all the communities served by CENIC will be the beneficiaries of this work.”


CENIC connects California to the world—advancing education and research statewide by providing the world-class network essential for innovation, collaboration, and economic growth. This nonprofit organization operates the California Research & Education Network (CalREN), a high-capacity network designed to meet the unique requirements of over 20 million users, including the vast majority of K-20 students together with educators, researchers, and other vital public-serving institutions. CENIC’s Charter Associates are part of the world’s largest education system; they include the California K-12 system, California Community Colleges, the California State University system, California’s Public Libraries, the University of California system, Stanford, Caltech, and USC. CENIC also provides connectivity to leading-edge institutions and industry research organizations around the world, serving the public as a catalyst for a vibrant California.

About ESnet

The Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) is an international, high-performance, unclassified network built to support scientific research. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science (SC) and managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet provides services to more than 40 DOE research sites, including the entire national laboratory system, its supercomputing facilities, and its major scientific instruments. ESnet also connects to over 140 research and commercial networks, permitting DOE-funded scientists to collaborate productively with partners around the world.

About Pacific Research Platform

The Pacific Research Platform’s (PRP) data sharing architecture, with end-to-end 10-100 gigabits per second (Gb/s) connections, will enable region-wide virtual co-location of data with computing resources and enhanced security options. PRP links most of the research universities on the West Coast (the 10 University of California campuses, San Diego State University, Caltech, USC, Stanford, University of Washington), via the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC)/Pacific Wave’s 100G infrastructure. To demonstrate extensibility PRP also connects the University of Hawaii System, Montana State University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Amsterdam. Other research institutions in the PRP include Berkeley Lab and four national supercomputer centers (SDSC-UCSD, NERSC-LBNL, NAS-NASA Ames, and NCAR).

About Berkeley Lab

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 16 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit