A new cybersecurity coalition is forming in the Midwestern United States, led by electrical and computer engineering Professor Doug Jacobson of Iowa State University. He is also the leader of the university’s Center for Cybersecurity Innovation and Outreach. He is leading the effort to establish a regional coalition that protects critical local infrastructure from computer attacks.
The coalition has been named ReCIPE (Regional Coalition for Critical Infrastructure Protection, Education and Practice) by the organizers from Iowa State University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The project is supported by the National Security Agency through its National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity program, granting it $2 million over two years.
The idea is for multiple universities and other partners from across the region to work together to develop and establish local cyber defense talent.
The initial goal of the organization is to protect the region’s electrical infrastructure. Due to the rural nature of the Midwest, there are many electrical providers across smaller towns. Each of them requires a certain level of cybersecurity know-how to protect themselves from attacks.
Over time, the coalition aims to provide hands-on training and conduct various exercises to develop a capable local cybersecurity workforce. The reason for that is because the region has had trouble attracting professional talent to its small towns and rural areas, so they will look to develop their own.
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“Cyber defense takes a community,” said David M. Nicol, director of the Information Trust Institute in Illinois and one of the key members of the ReCIPE project. “This project brings together all the key organizations whose participation in cyber defense is essential, and with them identifies and addresses real-life needs in education and workforce development.”
In a project summary, the coalition claims to provide the latest cybersecurity training to equip students with the knowledge and know-how that will enable them to protect local infrastructure, industries, medical institutions, governments, utilities, and everything that may come under threat from a cyber attack.
Teamwork and cooperation will be crucial aspects of the organization. “We’re bringing all these people together to train and upskill the current workforce while working with students to create a new workforce. By bringing us all together, we’ll see how we can all solve these problems,” said Jacobson.