Univ. of Florida partners with CIA to strengthen cybersecurity

by | Jul 14, 2022

 

  • The University of Florida and the Central Intelligence Agency announced a partnership this week to research methods to reinforce the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure 
  • The research will focus on preventing the infiltration of various cyber networks that houses valuable information 
  • Cybersecurity has become a hot topic in Florida, with Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing new cybersecurity training programs in the state’s schools and universities

 

Following a string of high-profile cybersecurity attacks nationwide, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the University of Florida (UF) have partnered in order to help strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

An agreement between the university and the CIA calls for research on the use of AIML—artificial intelligence and machine learning—to identify and prevent hostile actors from infiltrating computer networks. Researchers connected to the Florida Institute for National Security at UF will perform the work.

The study of reinforcement learning, which imitates human learning via trial and error, is planned to be a key research area. According to Woodard, little research has been done on the use of this machine learning technique to address cybersecurity issues. Researchers will test this technique on straightforward issues before determining if solutions can be scaled up.

“If you’re operating retroactively in cybersecurity, oftentimes you are too late,” said Damon Woodard, Director of the Florida Institute for National Security. “This collaboration will accelerate our ability to understand and expand the research on AI applications of AIML to cybersecurity.”

Though the partnership between UF and the CIA is the first of its nature, cybersecurity has become a primary focus of Florida leaders of late

Gov. Ron DeSantis in April announced the creation of a $20 million program to help facilitate cybersecurity opportunities through the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at the University of South Florida (USF).

The program will initially start at a regional scale at USF, but DeSantis hopes that success in education would help provide expansions to schools in other statewide metros like Miami and Jacksonville.

“That’s a really big deal, you’re putting students in positions to be able to get skills that going to be immediately in demand,” said DeSantis. “You just have to look at what’s going on around the world. I mean countries like Russia and China, this cyber field is something that they use to try to advance their interests, and of course targets in the United States is absolutely on the top of their list.”

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