When the USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker off Malaysia in August of 2017, it became the fourth naval ship in less than a year to suffer such an accident. A theory emerged that hackers were to blame.
As an examination into the matter continues, Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, has indicated that investigators are considering the possibility of a “cyber intrusion or sabotage.”
It’s the kind of scenario that will likely become all too common in the near future, and the need to plan for such situations is why FIU has become an international research and educational hub for cybersecurity, says Sundaraja Sitharama Iyengar, director and Ryder professor of the School of Computing and Information Sciences within the College of Engineering & Computing.
Previously, concerns about cybersecurity were confined to those working in IT fields. But in recent years, a cybersecurity industry has evolved as those who need to worry about hacking run all the way from governments and corporate executives down to public utilities, mom-and-pop businesses and ordinary individuals. In response, FIU has added new degree programs and expanded its cybersecurity courses across disciplines to bring in business and criminal justice students as well as the more traditional computing and engineering students.
“We are creating cyber warriors,” Iyengar says. “These cyber warriors from FIU will learn to protect us from cyberattacks and then go on to train the world.”
The need for cybersecurity and the industry being built around it is something Iyengar foresaw 26 years ago. In a series of academic papers long before the internet became well known, Iyengar predicted computers would one day be connected and that those communications would be susceptible to attacks.
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