Florida High Tech Corridor Recognizes FICS Research

FICS Research was recently featured in a feature story by the Florida High Tech Corridor magazine. Entitled “Playing Digital Defense”, the article focuses on the role of higher education in preparing students to make an impact on the future of the Internet of Things by making electronic hardware safer. Dr. Mark Tehranipoor, the Director of FICS, spoke about the courses and programs UF offers on campus and online to train students to face real-world cybersecurity issues and how to address them.

While stressing the importance of education and training, Tehranipoor also feels “the future of the cybersecurity sector will be determined by how experts, businesses and consumers wield the power of artificial intelligence (AI).”

Facing the Future

[An excerpt from the Florida High Tech Corridor article on “Playing Digital Defense” (May 1, 2019)]

At the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS Research), Director Mark Tehranipoor, Ph.D., just wrapped the institute’s fourth annual conference, which provides a unique forum for industry, government and academia cybersecurity experts to share their visions, ideas and innovative solutions for the future of the sector.

“Our annual conference allows academia and industry to come together to discuss the latest challenges in cybersecurity,” Tehranipoor said. “We lay the foundation for cross-pollination of ideas and a more collaborative, partnership-style approach to addressing issues we’re currently facing and preparing for what’s to come.”

The conference also provides FICS Research students the opportunity to share poster presentations and meet with potential future employers. To prepare their students for success in a sector that is unpredictable by nature, Tehranipoor and his team have instituted a set of unique courses that bring real-world experience into the classroom.

“With how quickly cybersecurity attacks are advancing, we place a strong focus on studying breaches and hacks that are currently taking place,” said Tehranipoor. “We essentially ask our students to take on the role of an investigative journalist, asking what happened, why did it happen and what could have been done to prevent it.”

Many of FICS Research’s programs and courses are offered online, opening the door to continued education for post-grad professionals throughout The Corridor region and beyond. As professionals in the field continue to realize the need for ongoing cybersecurity training in the workplace, the institute is preparing to meet that need with a program that would allow Tehranipoor and his team to offer customized educational workshops to businesses across the state. Each would be tailored to the business’ individual needs or a specific problem they face.

While Tehranipoor acknowledges the importance of preparing tomorrow’s workforce and developing resources for those already in the field, he believes the future of the cybersecurity sector will be determined by how experts, businesses and consumers wield the power of artificial intelligence (AI).

As AI continues to integrate into the consumer landscape – from chatbots to personal assistants and other smart devices – businesses are striving to keep up with the hype cycle and are rolling out machine-learning-based products more quickly than ever before to meet increasingly modern expectations. But, according to Tehranipoor, those businesses will continue to expose themselves and their customers to cyber threats until they regain control of the unpredictable electronics supply chain relied upon for the development of these next-gen devices.

“When you purchase and open a tablet device, you have no idea who – or what – has touched it,” Tehranipoor pointed out. “As it currently stands, there are so many potential vulnerabilities in the supply chain; it has become the gift that keeps on giving for cybercriminals.”

For businesses to safeguard themselves and their consumers against the vast number of touchpoints available in the production of a single device, Tehranipoor’s advice is to circle back to “square one” in the process – the one opportunity businesses have to ensure security measures are in place – and “take an intentional and proactive approach to design with security in mind.”

“By taking the time to design an IoT device with integrated security mechanisms – like monitors, special sensors or encryption engines – you can verify the device’s authenticity and integrity once it has been manufactured,” he said. “Building in these ‘security questions’ for the device will provide you with concrete evidence that the device is solid and better guard your customers from potential threats down the road.”

As new advancements are made every day, both for and against the security of the ever-expanding IoT grid, the world’s tech-driven future will continue to rest on the backs of those leading the charge in the battle for digital defense. And, as technologists in The Corridor continue to advance their understanding of the competition and prepare the next wave of defensive experts, they will continue to gain ground in their fight for the safety of business and consumers, both in the U.S. and abroad.

To read the full Florida High Tech Corridor article, click HERE.