May 26, 2024
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Homeland Security, NSA name Binghamton a cyber research center

Designation opens up opportunities for cybersecurity grants and scholarship for students and faculty

Protecting the U.S. information infrastructure and the privacy of data have become top concerns, especially over the past decade — and Binghamton University is now ready to take a greater role in combating these threats.

In June, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security named Binghamton a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research (CAE-R) through 2025.

The designation recognizes the work being done by the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC), a Binghamton University research center, as well as other research efforts around the campus. CIAC is a joint effort among faculty members from the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Management, the College of Community and Public Affairs, and the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

“Your ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the national information infrastructure,” Jillian Curcio, national CAE-R program manager for the NSA, said in a letter.

Watson College Dean Krishnaswami “Hari” Srihari praised the efforts of Associate Professor Ping Yang, who is the director of CIAC, and other faculty members collaborating as part of the new CAE-R at Binghamton.

“Our faculty continues to gain international recognition for their diligent research and academic excellence,” Srihari said. “We are very proud to be a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research, and we know that Professor Yang and her colleagues are committed to keeping data secure.”

To become a CAE-R, Binghamton University had to complete a rigorous 200-page application detailing published cybersecurity research, core faculty résumés, research grants, the advanced certificate in cybersecurity program and more. Multiple letters were also submitted, with help from Associate Vice President for Research Mary Beth Curtin, Research Development Assistant Michael Jacobson and Computer Science Department Chair Weiyi Meng.

“This designation shows that Binghamton University has a strong academic program in cybersecurity research,” Yang said. “It also opens up cybersecurity grants and scholarship opportunities for our students and faculty. We’re now eligible to apply for some large grants from the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation. I also hope that this designation will attract more students to apply for our cybersecurity certificate program.”

Yang arrived at Binghamton in 2006, after earning her PhD at SUNY Stony Brook. She developed the Department of Computer Science’s first graduate course on cybersecurity.

“Since then, a lot more people are using computers and the internet,” she said. “Children also use the internet, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. So it becomes more urgent to educate students and community members on possible cyber threats and how to address such threats.”

The mandates from the NSA and DHS regarding the CAE-R program are clear, she added, and she looks forward to Binghamton University meeting or exceeding them.

“The main goals,” she said, “are to reduce the vulnerability in the information infrastructure of the United States by promoting higher education and research in cyber-defense and producing professionals with cyber-defense expertise.”