Cloud-Focused Cybersecurity Center at UTSA Aims $5M at Unfilled Jobs

San Antonio—Encryption, access control, intrusion and fraud detection—the fundamentals of cybersecurity remain largely the same regardless of the type of computing infrastructure an organization uses.

But the way IT professionals might apply those security methods to an analog computer versus computing on the cloud vary, for a pretty simple reason: people use different systems different ways. That’s according to Ravi Sandhu, the executive director at the Institute for Cyber Security and a professor of computer science at University of Texas at San Antonio. Sandhu is the principal investigator of a group of researchers that are set to receive as much as $5 million from the National Science Foundation to study cybersecurity for cloud computing, and to train students in the area.

“There is a foundation that is common to cybersecurity across all domains, but its application requires a lot of creativity, innovation, and adaptation,” Sandhu said in a phone interview. “The difficulty is in the system—putting everything together in a large system and accounting for mistakes, especially from human users.”

To explore the subject further, Sandhu and professors from four other departments at UTSA are creating a research center called the Center for Security and Privacy Enhanced Cloud Computing. The group was awarded $2 million from the NSF in July to get started and may receive as much as $3 million more ($1 million per year through 2020) to continue it.

The researchers hope the additional cloud cybersecurity training will make students more attractive to tech companies with positions to fill. UTSA announced this week that Rackspace, the San Antonio-based cloud computing company, and Austin, TX-based cybersecurity company NSS Labs have both agreed to recruit interns and part-time employees from the new center.

“We’re excited UTSA has recognized this critical need for talent and invested in the Center for Security and Privacy Enhanced Cloud Computing to help educate and train students as San Antonio becomes a hub for industry-leading cybersecurity experts,” Dave Neuman, Rackspace’s chief information security officer, said in a press release. Rackspace, which was acquired by private equity in 2016, has added more customers who use cloud services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in recent years.

The grant was awarded in part to help address a perceived shortage in the cybersecurity workforce, according to the NSF. Sandhu expects there will be 1.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in 2020. The new center will also work to recruit high school students from the San Antonio area to study cybersecurity at UTSA.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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