DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science SEAS Dean's Update

DeMatteis Dean Sina Rabbany: The Inauguration of the Cybersecurity Innovation and Research Center

Last month we launched  the Cybersecurity Innovation and Research Center, colloquially called a cybersecurity war room. This facility will be a key component of our already established BS Computer Science and Cybersecurity program and our newly created MS in Cybersecurity, a degree we will launch in collaboration with the Zarb School of Business  in January 2020. Our Department of Computer Science will oversee a technology concentration within the program, while our colleagues in the business school will oversee a management and policy program.

A formal opening ceremony took place on November 12th, where local political and business leaders mingled with Hofstra administrators, faculty and students to observe firsthand the capabilities embedded in the war room. The facility is located in C.V. Starr Hall, and features 36 stations and software that trains students to launch, detect and disarm cyberattacks in a simulated environment. Specific features available to users include Circadence Project ARES, an AI-powered cybersecurity learning platform, along with a software package used by law enforcement, military, and intelligence agencies to maintain data integrity on mobile devices. The center also includes an e-learning cryptology software that detects items that pose a risk to users and testing software that finds security vulnerabilities on networks or mobile devices.

A week later, the university hosted a well-attended talk on the state of cybersecurity threats and defenses by Special Agent Peter Casson, who leads the FBI’s efforts on cybernational threats in its New York office. Mr. Casson highlighted how these threats come primarily from two sources: nations seeking to steal information, disrupt critical infrastructure and influence people with misinformation; and criminal elements involved in money laundering, theft, ransomware, and other lucrative ways of accessing people’s money and information. He emphasized that the threat is very widespread, and requires many people working in both government and private companies to arm themselves with the requisite knowledge and skills to fight back against the menace. With that in mind, he congratulated Hofstra for its investment in preparing students at the undergraduate and graduate levels to join that high tech fight.

Certainly the undergraduate cybersecurity program enrollment indicates that interest is strong among the Hofstra student population. With its start in  fall 2018, the program drew 31 of 296 undergraduates majoring in computer science. In fall 2019, 57 of the department’s 317 declared undergraduate majors had chosen it. It is easily the fastest growing program in the DeMatteis School. I have no doubt that the new graduate program will fare just as well.

We also plan to open the war room to local businesses for training in the near future. As we grow,  our various programs will serve as resources for the local community .  Whether they be businesses seeking to strengthen their cyberdefenses,  companies looking to improve their product development through our Center for Innovation, or professionals just seeking refresher courses or seminars in techonology subjects, we will strive to develop more collaborative relationships with the community at large.  

One of the points Mr. Casson raised in his talk was the importance of sharing information between private companies and federal agencies if cybersecurity is to succeed. The same is true of all enterprises: the more we share with our industrial and community partners, the more we will all succeed in our respective spheres. That is how knowledge grows and university education in particular thrives.

Wishing you success in your upcoming finals.  Happy Holidays.

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