Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

NIST to Fund Pilot Projects Advancing Trusted Identities

February 8th, 2012 / in research horizons, resources / by Erwin Gianchandani

NIST to Fund Pilot Projects that Advance Trusted Identities in Cyberspace [image courtesy NIST].The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced last week a new competition to fund pilot projects that accelerate progress toward “improved systems for interoperable, trusted online credentials that go beyond simple user IDs and passwords.” NIST expects to make available about $10 million for the first year of the new multi-year awards, anticipating funding five to 8 projects for up to two years at a rate of $1.25 million to $2 million per project per year. NIST will hold a proposers’ conference on February 15, and initial (“abbreviated”) proposals must be submitted by 5pm EST on March 7.

According to the press release:

The competition will be managed by the NIST-hosted national program office for the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC), a White House initiative to work collaboratively with the private sector, advocacy groups, public sector agencies, and others to improve the privacy, security, and convenience of online transactions.


The NSTIC vision is for individuals and organizations to have secure, efficient, easy-to-use and interoperable identity solutions to access online services in a manner that promotes confidence, privacy, choice and innovation.


“We’re looking for innovative approaches that can advance the NSTIC vision and provide a foundation upon which a trusted, user-centric Identity Ecosystem can be constructed,” said Jeremy Grant, NIST’s senior executive advisor for identity management. “We can help to grow the online economy by enabling the advancement of promising new privacy-enhancing identity solutions — and ways to use them — that do not exist in the marketplace today.”

The solicitation cites a number of barriers that have prevented identity solutions from being widely deployed:

  • the need for technical standards that ensure interoperability among different identity authentication solutions;
  • a lack of clarity about liabilities when something goes wrong;
  • no common standards for privacy protections and data re-use; and
  • issues with ease of use for some strong authentication technologies.

Proposals that address some or all of these barriers, while adhering to the four central principles guiding NSTIC — identity solutions should be privacy enhance and voluntary; secure and resilient; interoperable; and cost effective and easy to use — are encouraged.

And it notes that proposals could include, but are not limited to, technologies that:

  • create identity hubs to quickly validate credentials with strong authentication methods meeting agreed upon standards,
  • provide incentives for consumers to use trusted authentication methods in lieu of user IDs and passwords,
  • include improved ways to enhance consumer privacy, while simultaneously meeting business and security needs, or
  • demonstrate interoperability across various technologies such as smart cards, one-time passwords, or digital certificates.

NIST will hold a proposers’ conference at the U.S. Department of Commerce (map) on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 9am to 12pm EST, “to offer guidance on preparing proposals, explain criteria to be used in making awards, and answer questions from the public.” A live webcast of the event will be made available, and questions will be accepted through Twitter using the event hashtag #NSTIC. More details about the webcast are available here. And to register, click here.

To learn more, check out the NIST press release, the Federal funding opportunity, and the NSTIC home page.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

NIST to Fund Pilot Projects Advancing Trusted Identities

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