More than 175 business leaders, educators, scientists, students and politicians were on hand Tuesday morning as St. Bonaventure University unveiled the Western New York Cybersecurity Research Center.
The WNY Cybersecurity Research Center is a collaboration between St. Bonaventure, National ICT Japan, Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity and New Zealand Cybersecurity Center.
“Cybersecurity is an enormous issue. It is a 1 percent drag on the Gross National Product,” said Dr. Peter Bloniarz, executive director of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Cybersecurity Advisory Board. “Our resources to deal with the problem are not enough to keep up with the challenges.”
Bloniarz praised the collaborative nature of the center and its desire to help small businesses deal with cybersecurity issues.
The center will engage in cybersecurity research using various state-of-the-art technologies including machine learning, data mining and opinion mining.
The center will do monitoring, alerting and forecasting to help make Western New York safer from cyberattacks, said Dr. Hossein Sarrafzadeh, director of St. Bonaventure’s cybersecurity program.
“Through this new asset, our students will be the next generation of ethical leadership in Western New York,” said Dr. Joseph Zimmer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at St. Bonaventure.
The university partnered two years ago with Hilbert College to begin offering a Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity. Sarrafzadeh was the founder and co-director of New Zealand’s first Cybersecurity Research Center.
The center will have two functions: as a center for faculty and students to perform research, and as a Security Operations Center (SOC) to provide monitoring services to external clients. The SOC is scheduled to open in the fall.
The SOC will be operated in partnership with Buffalo-based Silo City IT, a managed security service provider and solutions architecture firm specializing in artificial intelligence-based solutions. Jeff Rathmann, SBU Class of 2007, is president and CEO of Silo City.
The SOC will provide 365/24/7 continuous monitoring and defense, email defense, managed endpoint security, managed email defense, threat hunting and intelligence, incident response, managed security automation and customer support.
The SOC will give students the opportunity to gain real-life work experience while they study, Sarrafzadeh said. Students will be screened and trained rigorously before working in the SOC.
“The center will become a Western New York success story in cybersecurity,” Sarrafzadeh said. “The center will help raise the awareness of cybersecurity risks in local communities and businesses.”
Demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to rise to 6 million globally by 2019, with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million, said Michael Brown, CEO at Symantec, the world’s largest security software vendor.
Students will also have opportunities to travel to Japan, Canada and New Zealand and work on cutting-edge equipment, Sarrafzadeh said.
The center also plans in the future to offer short courses and seminars for the public to combat cybersecurity risks.
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