Cybersecurity at IUB

By Sarah Hunker

Friday, September 2, 2016

In the wake of recent news stories about data breaches, many may be familiar with the term "cybersecurity."  However, some may not know what all that encompases.

Here at IU, cybersecurity is the focus for the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research (CACR), which is funded by a plethora of organizations, including the National Science Foundation and the Department for Homeland Security. Director of the CACR, Von Welch, explained that what the CACR does on a day-to-day basis is much more than just sitting behind a desk all day.

“Cybersecurity is the managing of risks around information technology or IT infrastructure. Typically we think of it in the context of against malicious third parties… CACR, is an applied research center, so one thing important to recognize is that there is a whole other group, the University Information Security Office, that handles security,” Welch said.

The CACR provides opportunities for individuals to gain social skills and network, through funding from grants, such as the National Science Foundation.

“We have a grant from the National Science Foundation, to run their cybersecurity center of excellence. What we do in that role is work with science projects that the NSF runs around the country to help them with their cybersecurity,” Welch said.

These science projects range from satellites to polar ice caps, but that doesn’t stop the CACR from facing the challenge head on. “It’s an amazing responsibility, but can really be a challenge,” Welch said.

Welch said cybersecurity touches everything, and it helps individuals get involved in more than they would know. He said if anyone were to ask what cybersecurity was ten years ago, they would assume it was just building firewalls.

“One of the things that I really like about cybersecurity is it gets you involved in all of these different things. I think if you’re doing your job really well you're talking to everyone in the project... Pushing those social skills is one of the really exciting things about the field,“ Welch said.

It's well known that men outnumber women in technology fields. Welch said even though CACR isn’t completely where they want to be when it comes to having women in the field, he thinks they are definitely on the right track.

Executive Director for Research and Education Networking Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REN ISAC), Kim Milford, shared her experiences about what she has encountered so far as a woman in the field. Milford said she came into tech with no prior cybersecurity experience; instead she graduated from St. Louis University and went to John Marshall to get her law degree.

“[Having an IT background] didn’t matter. If I was interested [and] if I was willing to do the hard work and learn more, everyone accepted me. So that was a huge thing I loved about the whole IT field,” Milford said.

Milford said she had a lot of good and bad experiences, like any other job. She explained how sometimes she felt as if she had gotten a little more help than she would’ve originally asked for.

“I compare it to [someone] helping me put my coat on… I never figured out how to get that second arm in when someone tried to help me put my coat on.” Milford said that women bring a great balance to the workplace and has noticed the numbers at conferences still remain lower than she would want. “Women bring such a balance and a diplomacy…it’s a more equilibrium point to bring women into the field,” Milford said.

Milford said she believes that women should consider a career in cybesecurity.  “Be successful, and learn a lot and have a lot of fun…if that’s the passion absolutely go for it (and) have a strong support structure.”

Opportunity for students

Students interested in learning more about Cybersecurity are invited to apply for one of only 20 seats at the CACR Security Matters Cybercamp, co-hosted by CEWiT, on Saturday, October 22.

The Security Matters Cybercamp is a one-day camp delivered by the CACR. Led by cybersecurity professionals with extensive field experience, in addition to offering fun, hands-on sessions with ample time for questions and answers, it will expose participants to a range of cybersecurity topics that include:

  • Basics of phishing and how to avoid being phished
  • Ethical issues cybersecurity raises
  • Why web sites get hacked and how
  • How computer networks function, how they are secured, and why it matters
  • Cyberdefense
  • What a professional cybersecurity career looks like

The deadline for applications is 11:59pm, Sunday, October 2, 2016.