Mason, IBM, NSF Partnership Produces Cybersecurity Report

The recent cyberattacks at Sony and NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers’ testimony that U.S. critical infrastructure is and will be under attack have once more pushed cyber risks into the spotlight. As cyber threats are rarely constrained to a single incident or sector, it becomes clear joint efforts across all platforms are not only necessary, but critical, in tackling cyber risks and attacks.

Partnering with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and IBM, George Mason University leads two research projects which focus on cybersecurity leadership (Mason-NSF), and securing SCADA systems and the next generation smart grid (Mason-IBM). These projects build upon Mason’s efforts in cybersecurity leadership education as Mason offers one of a small number of cross-disciplinary cybersecurity leadership master’s programs in the U.S. (MS in Management of Secure Information Systems) and spearheads other cybersecurity efforts as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Information Assurance Research.

“IBM is pleased to be partnering with Mason, through an IBM Shared University Research (SUR) Award, to explore ways to address the challenges and uncertainties associated with securing SCADA and industrial control systems and processes and to make recommendations on possible actions and steps for industry and policy makers,” said Dr. Jane L. Snowdon, chief innovation officer, IBM Federal.

“As a founding partner of the U.S. Government’s CIO University and of the International Academy of CIO, Mason is proud to build upon these efforts and be a part of the prestigious partnerships with IBM and NSF to contribute to the nation’s critical cyber defense initiatives,” added J.P. Auffret, director, MS in Management of Secure Information Systems, George Mason University.

The partnership included a Mason-IBM-NSF workshop that hosted a dynamic and focused group of chief information officers (CIOs), chief information security officers (CISOs), IT and smart grid experts, and policy makers from across the government, private sector, and academia, both domestic and international. Keynote and featured speakers included Bob Brese, former CIO, Department of Energy; Mike Kuberski, CISO, Pepco; Eddie Schwartz, former VP, Global Consulting and Cyber Solutions, Verizon; Kevin Kerr, CISO, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Robert Coles, CISO, GlaxoSmithKline; Jeffrey Katz, chief technology officer, Energy and Utilities Industry, IBM; Rich Klimoski, professor of management and psychology, George Mason University; Annabelle Lee, senior technical executive, Electric Power Research Institute; and Richard Guidorizzi, program manager, DARPA.Mason-IBM-NSF Cybersecurity Report

“The Mason-IBM-NSF workshop brought together some truly extraordinary individuals from leading institutions that represent a real cross-section of groundbreaking work and perspectives happening across the cybersecurity spectrum,” says Snowdon.

Participants provided insights on current and compelling issues including CISO core competencies, cybersecurity programs for worldwide organizations, and securing the smart grid electric control systems. The final Mason-IBM-NSF Workshop Report, which captures the impactful messages and insights produced during the workshop, is now complete and available for public review.

Download the Mason-IBM-NSF Cybersecurity Workshop Report.

Follow-up surveys and focus groups are being carried out by the projects’ work team. Findings from all aspects of the projects will be unveiled and vetted at the Mason-IBM-NSF Cybersecurity Leadership and Smart Grid Conference on April 30, 2015 at Hyatt Fair Lakes in Fairfax, Virginia. Learn more and register for the event.

“Cybersecurity has emerged as one of the biggest challenges we are facing as a nation. Now is the time to turn this challenge into our next success and export it to others by investing in cybersecurity innovation and education,” said Angelos Stavrou, associate professor of computer science and director of the Center for Assurance Research & Engineering at George Mason University.

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Mary Crowson

Mary Crowson is a program operations specialist for the Research Partnerships and Grants Initiative within George Mason's School of Business.

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