n our rapidly-evolving digital world, convenience is at our fingertips with countless services available online; but with this comes the risk of sharing personal data over vulnerable networks, creating easy pickings for hackers. Breaches at Equifax, Facebook, Marriott, Target and Yahoo! over the past several years compromised millions of individuals’ personal data. These data breaches were harsh reminders that even large, reputable corporations aren’t immune from attacks and elevated public scrutiny of how companies secure and protect personally identifiable information such as Social Security numbers, bank account information and credit card numbers.
No limits for UWF as a cybersecurity powerhouse How one Florida university is emerging as a nationally-recognized leader in cybersecurity. BY THOMAS ST. MYER
University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity | Sponsored Report
Identity theft impacts up to 17 million individuals annually and totals nearly $17 billion in stolen funds. Addressing these concerns for heightened digital security is becoming a top priority for CEOs, CIOs, CTOs and CISOs alike. Companies are increasingly committing themselves to protecting personally identifiable information of their customers, just as the University of West Florida is committing to helping these businesses achieve success in cybersecurity efforts. Nestled along the Cyber Coast in Northwest Florida, the University stands at the forefront in advancing cybersecurity innovation through its nationally-recognized academic programs and groundbreaking Center for Cybersecurity. Surrounded by military assets and a growing industry tasked with protecting information and critical infrastructure, UWF recognized the demand for an extraordinary cybersecurity program in Florida.
The strategic partnerships, knowledge and reputation that the UWF program rapidly built during its infancy led to designations from the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education and as the Centers of Academic Excellence Regional Resource Center for the Southeast. In this role, UWF serves as one of only nine hubs nationally and provides leadership to advance cybersecurity education among colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and South Carolina. “From the beginning, UWF has been limitless in the pursuit and development of creating an excellent cybersecurity education,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “We’re committed to sharing the research and knowledge that has emerged from the program with academic institutions and industry to secure the future of Florida and beyond.” ELEVATING BUSINESS BY ENHANCING CYBERSECURITY READINESS Jobs in cybersecurity grow at the speed of technology: exponentially. Last year, data breaches on average cost a U.S. business $7.9 million and chief information security officers cite employee training as the number one way to improve secu-
rity. Recognizing the growing demand for the workforce to advance technology, the Center for Cybersecurity launched its Cybersecurity for All program and the Florida Cyber Range. Created in a partnership with Metova CyberCENTS, the Florida Cyber Range provides students and practitioners alike a state-of-the-art, customizable virtual environment to support cybersecurity education, training and research. The Florida Cyber Range provides flexible solutions for immersive training, including simulation and emulation of environments, network replication, scenario-based exercises and dynamic traffic generation and attack injection. The Florida Cyber Range pushes the boundaries of cutting-edge scenariobased training and is utilized as part of the recently launched Cybersecurity for All program, which spearheads the adoption of digital security best practices into existing organizations. UWF partners with organizations, including businesses, government and military, to provide customizable training programs and professional development workshops. Participants in the program gain foundational knowledge and skills and learn cutting-edge solutions in topics such as cybersecurity fundamentals, incident response, risk management, cloud security, network defense and critical infrastructure security.
Cybersecurity for All Program • Enhances cybersecurity resiliency for businesses and organizations of all sizes and across sectors • Integrates state-of-the-art, hands-on skills training using the Florida Cyber Range • Offers cutting-edge topics including cybersecurity fundamentals, incident response, risk management, cloud security and critical infrastructure security
• Aligns with NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework • Delivers modular and customizable training solutions for various audiences including businesses, government and military • Provides face-to-face or online delivery and robust adaptation of content • Enhances professional development for employees
“We have developed a novel model for customizable, on-demand, scenariobased training that will help organizations keep up with the rapidly-evolving cyber threat landscape.” Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, UWF Center for Cybersecurity director
Florida Department of State appreciates the valuable partnership with UWF and we look forward to collaborating with them in the future.” NEXT GENERATION OF SECURITY, TODAY Securing your future is the mission for UWF’s Center for Cybersecurity. While the Center breaks barriers through innovative workforce development programs and partnerships, UWF sets the tone in cybersecurity education by preparing the next generation of professionals with dynamic, interdisciplinary education and state-ofthe-art training programs and facilities. Embracing a multidisciplinary approach, the University offers a variety of cybersecurity-related undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificate programs with face-to-face, online and blended courses for students seeking careers in cybersecurity.
LEFT: Students work in the Data Center, which provides the computing infrastructure to support Cybersecurity education, training and research. RIGHT: The Florida Cyber Range provides access to a simulated computer network that mirrors the topology and services of real-world, large and small-scale computer networks to experiment with network attack and defense methods.
“We have developed a novel model for customizable, on-demand, scenario-based training that will help organizations keep up with the rapidly-evolving cyber threat landscape,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, UWF Center for Cybersecurity director. “We embrace partnerships to enhance the cybersecurity resiliency of our communities, organizations and state.” LEADING CYBER DEFENSE FOR A RAPIDLY-EVOLVING LANDSCAPE The rapid growth of cyber threats requires an adaptable workforce capable of moving swiftly in a shifting landscape, creating both a challenging and exciting time for UWF to be at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation. The Florida Agency of State Technology and Florida Department of State, among other agencies, utilize the program to strengthen the cybersecurity resiliency of their organizations and expertise of their personnel.
“It is important to equip our information security managers and IT security personnel with rigorous training and resources to address the evolving cyber threats,” said Eric Larson, AST executive director and state chief information officer. “AST’s partnership with the University of West Florida not only provides ongoing and advanced training, but additional opportunities for our personnel to collaborate and share best practices with their peers.” Cybersecurity preparedness is of the utmost importance in election security. Following the threats to the 2016 elections, the Department of Homeland Security designated voting systems as critical infrastructure. The Florida Department of State proactively partnered with the Center for Cybersecurity to enhance cybersecurity resiliency ahead of the 2018 midterm elections through training courses for elections supervisors and personnel across the state.
University of West Florida Center for Cybersecurity | Sponsored Report
“The cybersecurity trainings conducted by UWF’s Center for Cybersecurity were exemplary and provided state and local election officials with tools and information to help protect against the growing threat of cybercrime,” said Wes Underwood, Deputy Secretary of State at the Florida Department of State. “The
The excellence of the curricula led to a first in Florida. In Fall 2018, UWF’s Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering began offering the first Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity in the state designated by the NSA and DHS as a Center of Academic Excellence program. Students flourish in their education because courses are led by attentive and knowledgeable, nationally-recognized faculty members. UWF employs faculty with cybersecurity expertise from their extensive backgrounds in the academic,
industry and military sectors. Sharing their real-world experience sparks compelling research with students in cyber defense, information and network security, secure software development, critical infrastructure and industrial control systems security and other emerging needs. UWF faculty prepare graduates to fill a job shortage that some reports estimate will reach 3.5 million globally by 2021. Fortune 100 companies, Department of Defense agencies and the Department of Homeland Security are among the dozens of employers who hire UWF graduates. “We, at Metova, rely on universities to produce and add highly skilled cybersecurity and computer science engineers to the workforce,” said Bill Dunn, Metova CyberCENTS president. “The University of West Florida provides us with these outstanding graduates and we will continue to seek to hire more at every opportunity.” The University will be an influential voice on the national stage in April when it partners with the NSA and DHS to host the Cybersecurity Centers of Academic Excellence Executive Leadership Forum. Approximately 400 academic, industry and government executive leaders from across the country will converge on Pensacola Beach to explore new strategies and solutions to advance cybersecurity. It is a new horizon that shifts every day. As hackers evolve, it’s imperative businesses do too. The risk of a data breach is
“AST’s partnership with the University of West Florida not only provides ongoing and advanced training, but additional opportunities for our personnel to collaborate and share best practices with their peers.” Eric Larson, AST executive director and state chief information officer
THE UWF CENTER FOR CYBERSECURITY partners with the Florida Agency for State Technology to provide cutting-edge cybersecurity education and training.
UWF Workforce Development Initiatives and Partnerships • Provides cutting-edge cybersecurity education and training for state agency personnel through partnership with the Florida Agency of State Technology • Conducted training courses across the state for Florida Department of State and elections personnel to enhance cybersecurity resiliency ahead of elections • Enhances cybersecurity resiliency for businesses in partnership with the Florida Chamber of Commerce • Partnered with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to provide cybersecurity awareness education and resources for the community
too dangerous and costly for a business of any size to ignore. UWF provides the resources, training and graduates to prepare organizations of all sizes and across sectors for the next inevitable cybersecurity attack. The University of West Florida is ready, are you? Learn more at uwf.edu/cybersecurity.
Advertorial created for the UWF Center for Cybersecurity in Florida Trend Magazine