Announcements 06-05-2014

Grid Computing Security Experts Meet at DigiCert

Scott Rea

Today, DigiCert welcomes community members of The Americas Grid Policy Management Authority (TAGPMA) to our corporate headquarters.

TAGPMA is a federation of authentication providers and relying parties headed by a Policy Management Authority of those responsible for grids in North, Central and South America. Its goal is to foster the cross-domain trust relationships that are needed to deploy grids in the Americas and around the world. The group establishes minimum requirements for those seeking trust through the International Grid Trust Federation global community.

Why Grid Policy Management Matters

Why is this important? Though many people may know little or nothing, about grid computing, this technology plays a key role in advancing solutions to many of the world’s biggest problems.

Thanks to grid computing and the identity authentication and encryption provided by organizations like DigiCert, scientists and researchers from around the world are collaborating using high-performance computing systems to address key areas such as the effects of climate change, limiting the impact of natural disasters, exploration of dimensional space and physics, improving world economies, and the pursuit of cures for common diseases.

Grid computing allows researchers to amplify the computing power of their individual computer systems, helping to speed up their work, and making possible the potential of the advancement of new knowledge through the application of massive computing  resources to solve otherwise computationally infeasible problems.

How Grid Computing Works

So, how does grid computing work? It uses the Internet to link multiple services in a secure way in order to generate massive compute power, and then provides a secure mechanism for accessing the voluminous resulting data generated from its use.

Hundreds of grids exist around the world, each one created to help a specific group of researchers. One such example that owes its success to grid computing is the global team of researchers currently exploring ways to predict and manage what’s called “protein folding.” This work ultimately may help reduce the effects of neurodegenerative disease.

Grid computing also supports experiments that simulate the functionality of the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider. The LHC, made famous by Dan Brown’s bestseller Angels & Demons and the popular film of the same title starring Tom Hanks, is found deep beneath the earth’s surface near the French-Swiss border and requires 4,000 people to operate. According to Wikipedia, physicists have grand designs about what the LHC can tell us about the deep mysteries of particles and space.

"Physicists hope that the LHC will help answer some of the fundamental open questions in physics, concerning the basic laws governing the interactions and forces among the elementary objects, the deep structure of space and time, and in particular the interrelation between quantum mechanics and general relativity, where current theories and knowledge are unclear or break down altogether."

Security for Technology That Improves the Way We Live

Indeed, technology has the ability to greatly improve the way we live, our understanding of the world, and our ability to collaborate on matters of extreme importance. In free, open societies, these technologies may also be attractive targets for cyberattacks. Absent the implementation of effective and properly configured security systems, these large computing grids may be vulnerable to attack or misuse for nefarious purposes.

The TAGPMA plays a vital role in outlining appropriate security standards and specifications for grid computing administrators and users. I’m pleased to represent DigiCert as a member of the TAGPMA leadership. This group is facilitating the noble work of scientists, researchers, and their support staff to enable human kind’s continued pursuit of the next frontier of scientific knowledge and understanding.

My colleagues at DigiCert and I welcome my esteemed colleagues and grid computing security experts to our headquarters, and we look forward to continuing to advance the security of critical, large-scale research compute and communication operations occurring over the Internet.


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