Feature Stories

Keeping data safe

The University of Georgia will advance research with implications for economic vitality and national security through its newly created Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy.

The institute is housed in the department of computer science, part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, but it will build collaborations with units across campus whose research and scholarship touches on both the technical and non-technical aspects of cybersecurity and privacy.

"Security and privacy vulnerabilities affect every technology we use, from wearable and portable devices such as smartwatches and smartphones to national critical infrastructure, such as the power grid and air traffic control systems," said Kang Li, professor of computer science and inaugural director of the ICSP. "The Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy is committed to helping meet the nation's cybersecurity research and education needs, and we look forward to working with colleagues in academia, industry and government to further this critical priority."

Li noted that UGA houses several faculty members with expertise in network and system security, security for mobile devices and the Internet of Things, and cyber-crime attribution, among many other areas related to cybersecurity. Research by faculty members in the ICSP is currently funded by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Air Force, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Homeland Security and several corporations. Li added that as more devices connect to the internet and more data about individual users becomes available, the need for enhanced privacy becomes more acute, as well.

The department of computer science currently offers several courses related to cybersecurity and privacy, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, and it offers a graduate certificate in cybersecurity. Li noted that one of the goals of the institute will be to create additional learning opportunities in cybersecurity, a field where demand for educated professionals greatly exceeds supply.

"The University of Georgia has more than 160 faculty members whose work leverages big data, and they are creating exciting new synergies that advance research, instruction and outreach across campus and beyond," said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten.

The Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy will be among the participating institutes of the university's campus-wide Georgia Informatics Institutes for Research and Education, joining the Health Informatics Institute that was established in 2016 and the UGA Institute for Bioinformatics, which was launched in 2002. Other programs and departments that are connected through the GII include the university's Digital Humanities Initiative, the department of management information systems in the Terry College of Business, and the departments of computer science and statistics in the Franklin College.

"Cybersecurity is one of the grand challenges of our time," said President Jere W. Morehead, "and this new institute will position the University of Georgia to play a leading role in this area of growing importance to our state, nation and world."

Published Thursday,