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A Valuable Partnership Supporting a Growing Need
For decades, the University of Dayton has been at the forefront of advanced research and technology. This leadership role continues to grow, bolstered by research-minded academic programs, UDRI's ground-breaking work, and support from industry partners, including a long-standing community partnership with Premier Health.
With increased industry and personal dependence on digital and electronic resources, cybersecurity has become a pressing need. Domestic and global threats endanger our information security, looming over every facet of our lives. Thanks to a lead gift from Premier Health, the University is combating these ever-growing threats — and preparing students to excel in a rapidly growing field — with the establishment of the Center for Cybersecurity and Data Intelligence.
The center will enable the University to take a lead role in cybersecurity research and education, furthering and consolidating a cybersecurity focus already part of curriculums across campus. A hands-on, lab-based environment will allow students to obtain real-world cybersecurity experience and encourage students from various disciplines, such as engineering, computer and social sciences, and business, to work together to address challenges.
In addition, the center's capabilities will foster much-needed research to stay ahead of an endlessly moving target.
"Cybersecurity is such an exciting field, and it is constantly evolving," noted Desktop Support Technician Everett Zornes '18. "You have to stay on top of the technology and the trends. And having a center where we can test different scenarios will help us better understand the threats."
School of Business Administration Professor Dave Salisbury noted Premier Health's foresight in supporting such research. "Healthcare organizations are a clear target for those attacking information resources, and by engaging on the ground floor, Premier Health is both helping the University of Dayton and encouraging development of knowledge and expertise that will only help them face challenges ahead in this area," said Salisbury.
The center will be located within the University's central IT staff offices, ensuring IT staff is deeply engaged in educating students, supporting faculty teaching and research, as well as collaborating closely with industry partners such as Premier Health. Associate Provost and Chief Information Officer Tom Skill said that the involvement of IT staff "is truly unique across most of higher education. None of my CIO counterparts are working with academic units in the way we do at UD."
Another distinguishing feature of the center will be efforts to engage and inform the public. Various projects will meet this need, including a joint venture with Premier Health to develop and share a quarterly "Healthy and Secure Cybersecurity Practices for the Dayton Community" newsletter that will focus on protecting sensitive data, particularly healthcare information. The University is also planning to host a community forum on this topic and develop a mini-webinar based on the forum.
Through these center initiatives, the University of Dayton and Premier Health show that today's greatest challenges can only be met through collaborative efforts — working together to better educate Flyer students and make the world a safer place.
Features of the center
The proposed 3,800 square-foot facility will be located in the heart of campus, at Miriam Hall. Supporting degree programs, research, IT certifications, continuing education and quarterly briefings, the center will foster:
- Collaborations with lead practice partners from key industries to address industry-specific threats, such as the partnership with Premier Health to address healthcare cybersecurity threats.
- Enhanced collaboration between academic units, encouraging a broader base of cybersecurity knowledge for students.
- Opportunities for students to gain cybersecurity experience through lab-based simulations.
- Strong public awareness and education around protecting sensitive data.
- Development of several tabletop exercises to train technical teams, managers, executives and students on incident readiness and response.
- Training employees in various industries to recognize and handle the social engineering tactics that hackers use to acquire confidential information.
Campuswide Focus on Cybersecurity
The center will bolster and connect the University's emphasis on cybersecurity, which is interlaced throughout the institution's academic enterprise.
- The School of Business Administration offers a cybersecurity graduate certificate program and concentration.
- The Department of Management Information Systems has a cybersecurity certificate program, as well as a minor, available for undergraduate students.
- At the School of Engineering, several research and teaching programs focus on developing hardware that can be more readily secured.
- The Department of Communication houses coursework that aims to understand the human element of cybersecurity.
- The Department of Computer Science provides programs in secure software development that can make organizational computing resources more robust in the face of a cyberattack.
- The School of Law is home to Susan W. Brenner, a leading scholar in cyber law.
In addition, the University is dedicated to keeping all faculty, staff and students knowledgeable about best practices for information security through programs such as the Becoming Cyber-MindfulTM 2017 awareness campaign.