UO launches new cyber security center

Cyber security and privacy breaches are multibillion-dollar problems that impact government, industry and private citizens. To respond to the continuing threat of security attacks and violations of online privacy, the University of Oregon has established the Center for Cyber Security and Privacy (CCSP) to serve as the university's primary hub for cyber security research and education. The center officially launched on July 1, 2015.

“As a member of the Association of American Universities, the University of Oregon must take a critical step in responding to this urgent need,” said Jun Li, director of the UO’s Center for Cyber Security and Privacy and associate professor of computer and information science. “Threats and attacks online have only been increasing in recent years, and this trend will very likely continue in the foreseeable future.”

According to Li, solutions to cyber security and privacy, which must cross multiple disciplines, are severely lacking. To address this challenge, the CCSP will bring together faculty working in multiple departments and schools, including Computer and Information Science, Philosophy, the Lundquist College of Business, the School of Law, and Information Services, among others.

“As Internet privacy has reached an unprecedented level of risk, we face challenges from multiple perspectives,” Li said. “From a technical view, the Internet is not yet robust against attacks; legally, we are facing a sea change in nearly every information privacy law; economically, it is difficult to evaluate the costs of privacy enforcement or violation; and from the social science perspective, we all must find ways to secure our personal information.”

The CCSP will promote the research at the University of Oregon into:

  • Privacy in the Internet age;
  • Internet infrastructure security;
  • Security and privacy of Internet content and traffic;
  • Security and privacy of online social networking; and
  • Hardware, embedded systems, and Internet of Things (IoT) security.

The new center is already off to a strong start after receiving a $1.38 million award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create technology to defend against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. In June, the UO was designated as a federal National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research.

According to Li, the CCSP will expand opportunities and degree programs for undergraduate and graduate students at the UO. The center will be working with the UO’s Department of Computer and Information Science and other schools and departments on campus to develop security and privacy curriculum, sponsor the student-run security club, facilitate industry and national lab internship opportunities, and sponsor outreach activities.

Over the next year, the center will work closely with the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI), the Graduate School, and the Department of Computer and Information Science to develop an accelerated, industry-focused masters program to train the next generation of Internet security professionals.

“We’ll be working with UO’s Graduate Internship Program to provide graduate students with opportunities to work alongside professionals in the industry,” said Li. “Our intention is to enroll the first class of students in 2017.”

Oregon is home to several major Internet security companies, including Intel Security, Symantec, Galois, Cisco, IBM, and Tripwire, among others. By developing the Internet security program at the UO in collaboration with other universities and industry partners around the state, Li and his colleagues want to strengthen Oregon’s influence in the industry.

"The Center for Cyber Security and Privacy will enable the University of Oregon to find innovative solutions to this emerging global challenge," said Brad Shelton, interim vice president for research and innovation. "The center will prepare Oregon students for careers in this critical field of study and connect disciplines across campus.”

As part of the center’s ongoing outreach, it will assume responsibility for hosting the annual Oregon Cyber Security Day, which draws speakers and participants from academia, industry and government.

"Oregon Cyber Security Day creates a platform for everyone interested in Internet security and privacy to network and exchange ideas and information,” Li said. “In 2015, we had speakers from Carnegie Mellon University, Purdue, UCLA and Intel, and attracted participants from industry, community colleges, regional universities, military and academic organizations.”

The sixth annual Oregon Cyber Security Day is scheduled for April 22, 2016.