By Drew Vincent, Senior Communication & Content Strategist, University of Texas at San Antonio
Whether it’s a hacked email account being used for phishing or a city or county computer system being held for ransom, cybercrimes cause devastating disruptions for organizations and create havoc in our personal lives.
No single organization or federal agency can stop the bad actors alone. Addressing today’s sophisticated cybersecurity threats depends on forging connections across all sectors — bringing the research strengths of universities, national labs and private industry together to solve grand challenges. No community is better suited to drive this collective action effort than San Antonio — Cyber City USA. The University of Texas-San Antonio, San Antonio’s largest public research university, is serving as an anchor for the city’s national cyber leadership by producing the research and cybersecurity warriors of tomorrow.
Recognizing the importance of this field to our nation’s future, UTSA has made cybersecurity one of its signature academic areas.
The launch of its National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC) highlights how the university is uniquely positioning itself to lead the nation in cyber research and workforce development. The NSCC serves as a hub for cyber activity in the region, housing federal and industry partners to engage in collaborative research with UTSA faculty and students.
In addition to centralizing innovation through the NSCC, UTSA is active in cyber research that directly impacts our daily lives. UTSA professors and students, for example, recently developed an algorithm that protects GPS software controlling the transmission and distribution of electricity. Other Roadrunner scholars are working with Raytheon to detect attacks using AI, which is particularly helpful when many people are working remotely.
UTSA is making a name for itself through partnerships with some of our nation’s leading information security innovators, from the corporate world to federal agencies.
“San Antonio’s cyber ecosystem thrives among strong cross-sector partnerships. UTSA knows how to work with the Department of Defense and private-sector employers, making them an ideal source of cyber talent.”
— Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, president & CEO, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation
Local alliances with San Antonio municipalities and institutions are also key. Through its Community Cyber Security Maturity Model, UTSA helps states and communities develop cybersecurity programs to protect critical infrastructure. Another alliance includes the recently announced UTSA and Port San Antonio partnership, which will provide greater access and connectivity to cybersecurity testbeds, infrastructure resiliency systems and companies that can help implement pilot programs.
“The merging of federal and industry research capabilities with academic laboratories is a rare and critically important ecosystem that empowers UTSA with the ability to rapidly and effectively develop technologies vital to national security,” said Jim Perschbach, president and CEO, Port San Antonio.
“I’m not surprised that the university has received support from leading experts, including the United States Air Force, the National Security Agency and an impressive array of commercial cybersecurity firms.”
Ultimately, the digital security of our nation and local communities depends on a skilled workforce. Demand for cybersecurity professionals outpaces the current global supply, with a predicted 1.8 million additional workers needed by 2022 to accommodate the shortfall.
UTSA’s research and partnership efforts are driven by the university’s commitment to address this challenge, highlighted by its 3,100 undergrads in cyber-related fields. These digital pioneers are supported by over 100+ million in cyber program research awards, a new Digital Defense cybersecurity endowment, and a recent $1.2 million grant to develop a statewide information system to survive catastrophes and hacks. With this vibrant support system in place, UTSA is continuing to produce the workforce talent our high-tech employers need.