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Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence receives research funding

The University of Dayton Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence will create new workforce development programs, increase awareness around cybersecurity issues and provide expertise throughout the state with new Ohio Department of Higher Education research incentive funding worth more than $277,000.

“The state recognizes people need help protecting their sensitive information in a world where threats keep growing,” said Dave Salisbury, UD cybersecurity center director. “This grant will allow the University to leverage its resources to help Ohio educate and equip its citizens against cyber threats.”

The grant will enable the University to make its Cyber-Mindfulness education program available to the public. Cyber-Mindfulness not only makes anyone who uses technology aware of cyber threats, but gives them the skills to defend against those threats.

“Most hackers target people, not machines,” said Rusty Baldwin, director of research for UD’s cybersecurity center. “They want to trick you with well-disguised phishing emails into downloading malware or giving up your password. These hacks can have huge financial consequences for people and organizations. That’s how Cyber-Mindfulness is different from most other programs; it empowers people. It’s not a one-time training that offers a few tips and some horror stories and then is soon forgotten. It’s ongoing and gives people simple things they can do to protect themselves so they’re not at a hacker’s mercy.”

Cyber-Mindfulness has improved the percent of University faculty and staff who said they would be able to recognize a suspicious email message to 77% from just 13% a year earlier. Also, the percent of people tricked by a well-disguised phishing email dropped to just 0.5% from 5.5% a year earlier.

The grant also helps address the cyber workforce needs in the state. The University will use its state-funded Cyber Range — a virtual training environment — to help future tech workers document their skills and progress via a cyber skills portfolio. Participants will be able to present their portfolio to potential employers, giving them a credential that complements other training or formal education.

Additionally, the University will create materials, such as curriculum and videos, for groups such as local governments, small businesses or school districts that face cyber threats but lack the resources and information to address them.

The Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence was founded in 2018 by the University and founding sponsor partner Premier Health. More information on the center is available online.


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