RENO, Nev. — The University of Nevada, Reno is establishing the Cyber Security Center, which will support economic development in Nevada through education, research and outreach to industry by addressing the growing national challenge of cyber security.
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“We will be taking a holistic approach to cyber security, blending the technical aspects of protecting cyberspace with a range of disciplines from business to the liberal arts,” Kevin Carman, provost and executive vice president at the university, said. “We will have a strong alliance with the private sector throughout Nevada.”
The Cyber Security Center, approved by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents at its meeting in December, will work on solutions to cyber attacks, educate students and conduct relevant research. The multiple faculty disciplines involved include computer science and engineering, political science, information studies, journalism, criminal justice, mathematics, philosophy, psychology and military science.
The effort to develop the center began in spring 2013 with a series of informal and formal meetings at the Reno campus, which involved academic deans, faculty, the provost and president of the university and internationally recognized cyber-security scholar Dr. John Arquilla, a professor in and chair of the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
“The answers to cyber security and protecting the country’s cyber infrastructure are not to be found in a single discipline – it takes cross-disciplinary team intelligence,” Arquilla said. “This is truly a grand challenge, requiring bringing together the best minds from many academic fields. Provost Carman and Dean Maragakis (Engineering) realize the tremendous comparative advantage the University of Nevada, Reno has, as its relatively small departments already have a deep appreciation of the value of working across disciplines. This is truly a pioneering a new approach to higher education, one that will greatly benefit the Cyber Security Center.”
The center is proposed to bring many points of view to bear; a kind of collective intelligence will be created that takes on this grand challenge in ways that the academy has not yet tried. This melding of disciplines is what makes the university’s approach to cyber security unique. The new center will address issues in a variety of industries that have enormous cyber security implications for economic development in Nevada, such as banking, health care, data centers, online gaming, the power grid and the large and growing military presence in the state.
“Nevada is the ideal place for this initiative, as all the pieces come together here on a very manageable scale: industry, law enforcement, education and research,” Arquilla said.
The university is currently in the process of hiring three new faculty members with expertise in cyber security, one each in the colleges of business, liberal arts and engineering.
“The mission of the center is to promote cyber security education in an inter-disciplinary setting, support workforce development in order to produce high-value employees for both government and industry as well as perform interdisciplinary research and development,” George Bebis, chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department, said. “Among our priorities are to establish an undergraduate minor and a graduate certificate in cyber security, create a consortium of representatives from local industry, state agencies and law enforcement in cyber security and establish a seminar series in cyber security to raise awareness on campus.”
In this age of Internet commerce and social activities, with industry and government using the cyber infrastructure, every state, local and federal agency is concerned with and engaged in cyber security. Every commercial enterprise, from the small entrepreneurial entity to the big multinational company, devotes a significant amount of time, effort and funding to cyber security. It is clearly a growth industry projected to attract more research and funding in the future.
In Nevada, the Governor’s Economic Development Task Force identifies cyber security as an industry that can be advanced by collaboration with higher education as a means for building the Nevada economy.
The University of Nevada, Reno has cyber security expertise in a number of areas, including: developing tools that law enforcement can utilize to track cyber criminals; visual surveillance using cameras and robots; intelligent control of drones and robots; autonomous exploration of cyber physical systems; designing protection for online social networks and to provide privacy to cloud users; smart environmental monitoring of complex public scenes; securing smart-grid data communication; protecting household privacy with enhanced smart monitoring and cyber conflict detection, monitoring and prevention.
The proposed Cyber Security Center received support from the Northern Nevada Regional Intelligence Center, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, National Security Forum, EDAWN and local digital forensics company Vere Software. The center will include close collaborations with the Desert Research Institute and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.