The Florida Center for Cybersecurity at USF

The Florida Center for Cybersecurity, FC², will be located at the University of South Florida's Tampa campus and will create an information hub for Cybersecurity education, research and innovation.


                                                                                                                                                                                       Video by Katy Hennig | USF News


By Katy Hennig

     USF News


Tampa, Fla. (Sept 23, 2014) -- The Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida, (FC²), is poised to become a leader in the charge to educate citizens, develop research solutions and engage the community in the field of Cybersecurity. State leaders recently approved funding for the creation of the center—located at USF’s Tampa campus—that will help to position Florida on the forefront of advancing this critical field.


Sri Sridharan, managing director of FC², emphasizes the importance of implementing new courses and programs to educate the community. “Cybersecurity is a very dynamic area; it’s fast evolving. What they do today in terms of cyber-hacking, if you figure out a fix for it, they figure out another way to do it tomorrow,” said Sridharan.


One of the main goals of FC² is to assist in the creation of jobs in one of the state’s fastest growing industries and enhance the existing Cybersecurity workforce. According to Sridharan, “Many companies focused on Cybersecurity are having a hard time finding people to hire; these are high paying jobs in the six-figures as well.”


The center will create an environment of technological collaboration and act as an information hub for state businesses and higher education communities to share Cybersecurity research knowledge, resources and training. In addition, the center will connect USF with industries and create partnerships with major military installations and business leaders to work together to stay ahead of the hackers.


“We want to partner with those types of organizations ahead of time so we don’t always have to be reactive to Cybersecurity problems; instead we want to be proactive,” said Sridharan.


The outreach planned by FC² includes a lecture series and panel discussions based on Cybersecurity thought leaders and professionals experienced in defense of the infrastructure of data that is constantly the target of hackers.


“We are extraordinarily reliant on the Internet – our lives depend right now on fast, reliable connections in cyberspace,” said Jane Lute, former deputy secretary for the department of Homeland security, at an event held at USF in May 2014. Lute managed efforts to enhance the focus on Cybersecurity and was keynote speaker at the conference, part of the series designed to engage the community in discussion about the increasing threats facing cyberspace.


“We joke in the Cybersecurity business there are only two types of companies,” said Lute, “those that have been breached and those that know it.” According to Lute and fellow speakers, encouraging awareness and increasing education are the only ways to counteract the constant threats.


“I’m part of a larger community that is trying to do what it takes to make us smarter and more capable of preserving the openness of the Internet. I think the greatest threat to the Internet today is the lack of security,” said Lute.


Sridharan says connecting a diverse array of the conversations focused around advancing Cybersecurity creates a better and more adaptable learning environment. “There is significant value to bringing thought leaders and other leaders on the topic of Cybersecurity together at FC² because this is not just us working alone with the faculty; we want to bring great minds together and help propagate and disseminate the right information to the public,” said Sridharan.


To further this mission, FC² will host a one-day cybersecurity conference on October 8, featuring keynote speakers Mike McConnell and Don Proctor, live hacking demonstrations, multiple breakout sessions, networking opportunities and an expo hall. Registration is now open. Visit usf.edu/cybersecurity to learn more.


In addition to extensive outreach, the center will attract Cybersecurity companies to Florida, with an emphasis on defense, finance, healthcare, transportation and utility sectors creating new jobs.


“One of the things that we are trying to do is to make sure that we can get ahead of the game by working with companies that are developing new technology and making sure that they are Cybersecurity proof before they even make the technology available,” said Sridharan.


The center helped USF develop curriculum for its new online master’s degree in Cybersecurity that offers graduate certificates with four concentrations: Cyber-Intelligence, Digital Forensics, Information Assurance and Computer Security Fundamentals.


More than 80 full-time professors from a range of fields at USF will be involved with the interdisciplinary program and will collaborate with experts in academia across Florida.


Opportunities for student engagement and involvement in creating cutting edge solutions include an on-campus club called the Whitehatters Computer Security Club, which is comprised of Computer Information System majors and a collection of interested faculty and students designing out of the box tools to be proactive and design solutions to protect businesses and the community.


Research facilitated by FC² will address the rapidly evolving field of Cybersecurity including the vulnerability of mobile devices and will develop tips for consumers to protect themselves in the online world. USF has also entered into partnerships with Cybersecurity companies, military partners, business leaders and research entities across the country to continue to build the center’s national and international reputation.


To become a Cybersecurity expert or to learn more about FC² located at USF visit: usf.edu/Cybersecurity