ECE Professor Richard Brooks has received $810,000 from the United States State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor as part of their Internet Freedom Initiative. This initiative works to promote freedom of the press and democracy worldwide by enabling individuals to use the Internet for free access to information. Specifically, Dr. Brooks’ “Internet Democracy Support for West Africa” project will help combat Internet censorship in a part of the world where many countries have limited democracy and active press censorship. This work takes advantage of Dr. Brooks’ expertise in computer and network security.
In addition to teaching network security courses, Dr. Brooks has computer security research programs currently funded by the Air Force, NSF, US Department of Energy and BMW. His research team will teach West African journalists how to securely use computer networks even when access to information is actively suppressed. His research team will also create new technologies for circumventing Internet censorship by repressive governments. These technologies take advantage of the insights that Dr. Brooks has gained from analyzing how networks of infected computers are used by criminals to perform identity theft without being detected. Dr. Brooks’ goal is for this project to use his knowledge of network security flaws to promote positive change. Last year’s Arab Spring showed how individuals accessing information over the Internet can promote democracy internationally.