AMHERST, NY - In the shadowy world of federal government cybersecurity there are efforts to protect our government, economy and infrastructure against cyberattacks. Terrorists or adversarial countries could try to cripple or shut down the sophisticated systems which run so much in our modern world through computer-generated attacks.
Now some of those future "cyberwarriors" are being trained here at UB's Center of Excellence in Information Systems, Assurance, Research and Education at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. A $1.6 million dollar federal grant is training students and helping to run the center, which is almost like a cyber version of ROTC.
Said Dr. Shambu Uphadhyaya, director of the program at UB: "When we recruit students we interview them and we make sure that they are trustworthy and they don't have any other opinions. So they feel that it is their duty."
Some past graduates of the program students are already working for the Defense Department or Homeland Security agencies including the FBI, and the ultimate eavesdropping organization, the National Security Agency -- which may raise ethical issues for some.
"Of course people have their own opinions about privacy and things like that. And it is well understood that there is some compromise that one has to deal with all the time. Security and privacy they're kind of octagonal to each other. If you want to have more security then you have to give up some privacy also."
Students are trained to learn how to carefully monitor systems to look for digital intruders or even determine if a manufactured computer chip actually has some hidden code that could weaken or destroy a system. And if the overall surveillance issue bothers them, they opt out.
"If they dohn't agree with the these privacy issues and they want to have more privacy," said Uphadhyaya, "they don't join our program."
Two On Side's Ron Plants spoke with Dr. Uphadhyaya this week.