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Syracuse University institutes new interdisciplinary cybersecurity research center

Each year, 10 million people are victims of identity theft, and recent reports indicate a 158 percent increase in cyber attacks. At the same time, the world is increasingly moving to digital records and transactions, and conducting more global business than ever before.

How can people and organizations ensure that their digital information is secure? What polices and technologies are needed to protect that sensitive information from malicious attacks? What role do people play in exposing themselves to these attacks, and how can organizations safeguard against insider threats?

These are the kinds of questions that will be tackled by a new interdisciplinary research center at Syracuse University. The Center for Information and Systems Assurance and Trust (CISAT) is currently developing its research agenda and reviewing proposals under the direction of its co-directors Scott Bernard, School of Information Studies Professor of Practice, and Shiu-Kai Chin, Meredith Professor at the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (LCS).

“As our physical and cyber worlds become ever more intertwined, establishing and maintaining the trustworthiness of cyber-physical systems is essential,” Chin said. “Trustworthiness spans the domains of computer hardware, software, protocols, networks, laws, management, and policy. Because of the breadth and depth of CISAT faculty, CISAT is well positioned to realize its purpose to improve the trustworthiness of cyber-physical systems.”

“CISAT is a unique new resource at Syracuse University, bringing together nearly 20 faculty from across the University who do research and practice in the important areas of systems security, risk management, and information assurance,” Bernard said. “CISAT strengthens Syracuse’s reputation as a leader in this field and provides new outreach opportunities to business and government partners.”

“CISAT provides an excellent base for furthering the information assurance and systems security research that LCS and iSchool faculty have been engaged in for a long time," said Laura Steinberg, dean of LCS. "Together with our existing collaborations, such as those with JPMorgan Chase and the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y., CISAT cements Syracuse University’s status as an international force in these fields."

CISAT promotes the exploration of new ideas in information and systems assurance and trust by bringing together faculty from six schools and colleges at Syracuse University: the School of Information Studies, L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Law, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Administration, Newhouse School of Public Communications, Whitman School of Management, and College of Arts and Sciences, who share a common vision of improving society through the creation of trustworthy systems.
The center emerged from a cyber security conference, sponsored in June 2009 by SU and JPMorgan Chase. The conference brought together more than 100 senior researchers from academia, government, and the corporate sector who discussed some of the greatest cyber security challenges facing the nation and the world.

The new center draws on the expertise of researchers who have diverse backgrounds in the social sciences, law, technology, computer science, engineering, management, policy, and communications. In addition, CISAT engages with non-academic partners including the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Information Directorate and other agencies and companies to form a community of practice in information and systems assurance and trust.

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