Assistant Professor Masooda Bashir is part of a four-year, $4.2 million grant from the National Science Foundation that renews the Illinois Cyber Security Scholars Program (ICSSP), which teaches students how to protect the nation’s cyber infrastructure by designing more secure systems and methodologies, as well as better cyber policy. Bashir works closely with students in the program as well as with agencies and laboratories who provide student internships. The lead researcher on the grant is Roy Campbell, professor of computer science. Both Bashir and Campbell are members of the Information Trust Institute on the Urbana campus.
An excerpt from the full press release, which is available on the Department of Computer Science website, is below:
“From cell phones to online banking, our daily functions are extremely digitized, which means they are also vulnerable to attacks,” said Roy Campbell, the lead researcher for the ICSSP initiative and the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professor of Computer Science. “Our goal with ICSSP is to train students to have an immediate impact in the field, especially at government agencies and laboratories.”
“We’re one of the few programs that offer training to undergraduates and one of the few that incorporate law students,” said Masooda Bashir, an assistant professor of library and information science. Bashir, Campbell, and their collaborators are researchers in the Information Trust Institute, which administers the ICSSP program as part of its mission to create a more resilient, reliable and secure online world. “With the core education students receive from our highly ranked engineering and computer science programs, along with the specialized training they get through ICSSP, students are equipped to help defend our national security and civil systems,” she added.
ICSSP has enjoyed a 100 percent placement rate of its graduates since its inception—placement with agencies isn’t guaranteed and graduates who are not chosen must pay back the scholarship money—demonstrating the strength of Illinois’ expertise in the area, Bashir said. Many graduates are now working at high-level research labs such as Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Lab, along with numerous government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA.
“I once had a student tell me, ‘I see this as a way to defend my country without picking up a gun,’” Bashir said. “It’s really critical work.”