This month I want to focus on some exciting connections taking place in our dynamic Department of Computer Science. As I’ve noted before, the department is now offering a degree in Computer Science and Cybersecurity. As part of our new focus on this area of study, we forged a fruitful relationship with Facebook last fall in which we became part of the Facebook University Cybersecurity Program. Dr. Xiang Fu offered an informal, non-credit course called Codepath Cybersecurity, sponsored by Facebook, to approximately fifty of our students. Facebook representatives came to Hofstra in early November 2017 and spoke to an overflow crowd of more than one hundred computer science majors, about exciting opportunities in the field of cybersecurity.
Then during our winter break, Assistant Professor Angeliki Zavou and eleven students were invited to participate in the Enigma Cybersecurity Conference in Santa Clara, CA which was organized by the USENIX Association. There, they met practitioners in the field of cybersecurity from Netflix, Google, Cloudfare, Mozilla, Amazon, Spotify and many more companies. Dr. Zavou was impressed with the students’ zeal for the conference, and noted how it really fired them up about the possibilities of future careers in cybersecurity.
After participating in the three-day conference, the students and Dr. Zavou spent a day at Facebook, where they heard from many of the firm’s security experts about what their jobs entail and how best to prepare academically for such positions. They also interacted with faculty and students from other universities, and spoke with Alex Stamos, the chief security officer for Facebook, about current issues in the field. Dr. Zavou commented that the entire trip was a real eye-opener for our computer science students, and how valuable this nascent partnership with Facebook has already been for them.
Partnering with companies, whether through our three-year-old Co-op program, or through program-wide relationships with major high-tech companies like Facebook, is a highly rewarding and attractive feature of the DeMatteis School.
And while I am on the topic of computer science, there are a few other points worth making. Computer Science has historically lagged in attracting women students – a somewhat ironic demographic void in a department where over 40% of our full-time faculty are women! Cybersecurity offers an opportunity to address that shortfall, and to that end three of our female students will be attending a Women in Cybersecurity Conference in Chicago in March. Also, Hofstra’s Department of Computer Science wants to spread the word about the importance of this field to non-specialists. Hence it has developed a new course for the general student population – CSC 007: Cybersecurity for Everyone. The 007 number may, for us oldies, suggest associations with high tech gadgets and espionage courtesy of Ian Fleming and his character James Bond. But what was exotic in the 1960s and 1970s is commonplace today, and it behooves us all to be conversant with how to protect our information from cyber-spying whether by foreign governments or advertisers. Consequently, thanks are to be extended to the active leadership on this initiative shown by Dr. Krishnan Pillaipakkamnatt, Chairperson of the department, Dr. Fu, and Dr. Zavou. With such faculty leading the way, the DeMatteis School is positioning itself to be at the forefront of preparing future professionals and a wider audience of students to be educated about important technological issues in the information age.