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Combating Cyberattacks

ECS Center Fosters Education, Research & Outreach
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Teaching students to combat security breaches and other threats and providing research experiences to prepare students for the workforce are on the horizon for Cal State Fullerton’s new Center for Cybersecurity.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science announced the new center Nov. 13 during its Cybersecurity Day event, attended by about 150 students, faculty and industry professionals. The ECS Center for Cybersecurity, supported with seed money from Raytheon, will train the next generation of computer security specialists, said Dean Raman M. Unnikrishnan.

Unnikrishnan noted that the demand for security expertise is growing, and by 2017, a shortage of about 2 million skilled information technology professionals is predicted, according to the (ISC)² Global Information Security Workforce Study.

“Our goals for the center include strengthening security education through teaching, research and outreach with our industrial partners,” Unnikrishnan said. “We want to be the industry pipeline and supply our local industrial partners with a skilled workforce.”

Mikhail Gofman, assistant professor of computer science, an expert in virtualization and cloud security, Web security and biometric authentication, was hired in 2012 to help develop a cybersecurity program and will serve as center director.

Joining Gofman in the effort as center assistant directors are computer science faculty members James S. Choi, in charge of research and grants; Yun Tian will oversee curriculum development; and Shawn Wang will coordinate outreach activities with industry, government and the broader community.

Gofman explained that promoting awareness about cybersecurity is important because cyberattacks are on the rise and continue to grow on a daily basis. In 2006, about 5,500 incidents were reported to the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team by federal agencies; last year, more than 67,000 were reported.

“Our goal is to improve the state of cybersecurity,” Gofman said.

Strategies include development of curriculum across engineering, computer science and business disciplines. The college already offers courses in introduction to security, cryptography, network security and cloud security, with other courses planned in such areas as computer forensics, malware analysis, Web security and security courses for non-majors.  

The center will encourage collaborative faculty-student research projects with industry partners, as well as pursue publication of scholarly works in peer-reviewed journals.

“By fostering collaborative security-related research projects between CSUF faculty, students and industry researchers, this synergy will help tackle the gamut of security problems to reduce cyberthreats,” Gofman said.

Other initiatives include:

  • Recruit qualified faculty members with expertise in areas such as digital forensics, big data and mobile security;
  • Establish undergraduate and graduate degree programs in cybersecurity, as well as a minor in computer security; and
  • Support CSUF student organizations, including the Offensive Security Society and the student chapter of ISACA, a worldwide association of information security professionals.