Experts Seeking Ways to Combat Cyberattacks Gather at UT Dallas

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham

More than 500 government, business and academic leaders charged with protecting the nation’s infrastructure from cyberattacks are meeting on the UT Dallas campus this week for a three-day workshop.

The event is the nation's fourth Cybersecurity Framework Workshop, held in response to an executive order issued by President Barack Obama to develop a strategy that could be used by critical infrastructure groups to reduce the risk of cyberattacks. These infrastructure groups include those in the finance, energy, transportation, food and agriculture, and health care industries.

Dr. Alvaro A. Cardenas

Dr. Alvaro A. Cárdenas

“North Texas has long been a business hub, and since UT Dallas is becoming known for our interdisciplinary cybersecurity efforts, our campus is the perfect place to host a meeting of this magnitude,” said Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, professor of computer science in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and a Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor.

The University’s cybersecurity expertise includes nearly 30 faculty members affiliated with the Cyber Security Research and Education Institute (CSI), led by Thuraisingham. In addition to expertise in critical infrastructure security, Institute members have expertise in the cybersecurity areas of cryptography, programming languages, systems security, virtualization, network security, digital forensics and semantics.

Federal Cybersecurity Directive

The Obama Administration's directive on cybersecurity ordered the following:

• Share more cyberthreat information with the private sector.

• Help operators of critical infrastructure protect their systems from harm.

• Develop a set of standards and procedures to address cyber-risks.

Within the last decade, UT Dallas has been designated a National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security Center for Excellence in Education in Information Assurance and a Center for Excellence in Research. The Cyber Security Research and Education Institute has received more than $20 million in research grants from a variety of governmental and industry groups, as well as more than $3 million in grants to create educational programs in cybersecurity.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was directed by the executive order to work with stakeholders to develop the Cybersecurity Framework and has organized four workshops to receive input from industry and academia. Dr. Alvaro A. Cárdenas, assistant professor of computer science and member of CSI, has worked with NIST on cybersecurity recommendations for the smart grid and the cloud computing security reference architecture. He attended previous framework workshops.

“Our critical infrastructures for power, water, financial and transportation systems are valuable targets to motivated attackers,” he said. “In addition, these infrastructures are being modernized, and it is important to ensure that new functionalities do not lead to new vulnerabilities. Our academic input can help the Cybersecurity Framework discussion by identifying the gap between current security best practices and the risk models and technologies that are missing – and need further research – to keep these infrastructures safe.”

After a welcome by University President David E. Daniel, panelists will include representatives from Liberty Group Ventures, LLC, Symantec, Verizon, Rockwell Automation, AIG, Willis, ACE USA, Lockton, Hunt Oil, Hawaiian Telecom, Edison Electric Institute, Depository Trust and Clearing  Corp., Mittal Technologies, Utilities Telecom Council, Dow Chemical, BSI, as well as the DHS, NIST, the Departments of Commerce and Energy, and National Security Staff of the Executive Office of the President.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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