News

Computer Science Faculty Members' OpEd on Ransomware Bill Featured in The Hill

A recent OpEd by Drs. Zahid Anwar and Jeremy Straub on a newly introduced federal ransomware bill was published in The Hill.  The article suggests alternate techniques to combat the ransomeware threat.  Read the article

NDSU to field largest ever National Cyber League team

NDSU is a recognized leader in the National Cyber League. The university took 13th place nationally, out of hundreds of participating U.S. colleges and universities, in the spring 2021 NCL Cyber Power Rankings.

This semester, NDSU will field over 40 participants – more than double the university’s highest level of participation in previous semesters.  With this participation level, NDSU will be one of the largest, if not the largest, participating institutions in the Midwest, based on schools’ historical participation levels. Read More

Computer Science Faculty Members' OpEd Featured in The Hill

9/17/2021
A recent OpEd by Drs. Zahid Anwar and Jeremy Straub on techniques for securing Afghans' personal data, which was exposed in a database left behind during the U.S. withdrawal, was published in The Hill.  The article suggests that rewards programs for its recovery or destruction or targeted malware might be used to mitigate the threat.  Read the article.

NDSU Hosts Impact Dakota Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Workshop

9/15/2021
Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certificaiton will be required for many firms who do business, directly or indirectly, with the U.S. Government.  The NDSU Cyber Security Institute worked with Impact Dakota to host a workshop for local manufacturers on how to get up to speed on this new requirement on September 14th, 2021.  Support for the event was provided by a UND Center for Innovation OLDDC-OEA grant.  More details.

NDSU Cybersecurity Institute working with City University of Seattle, EduTech to enhance high school cybersecurity education

9/2/2021
NDSU is part of "a consortium of twelve National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) from seven northwest states" working to enhance cybersecurity education.   City University of Seattle was the lead institution on a $700,000 grant, which NDSU is a sub-awardee on, which will fund training for high school teachers and other activities in 2021.  NDSU is working with North Dakota EduTech on this program.  More details.

NDSU Cyber Security Institute Contributes to DefCon AIAA Event

8/5/2021
NDSU Cyber Security Institute director Dr. Jeremy Straub aided in the development of AIAA's Hack-a-Sat event at the Aerospace Village at DefCon 29 in Las Vegas Nevada.  More details.

NDSU Holds BisonCyber Computing and Cybersecurity Camp

6/23/2021
The NDSU computer science department is slated to host BisonCyber, a two-day, on-campus summer camp for high school students in grades 9-12, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on July 27-28.  Topics of the free camp include programming, networking, cybersecurity and robotics.  Read more.

Straub Featured in 3D Printing Cybersecurity Article

6/16/2021
Institute director Dr. Jeremy Straub was featured in a 3D Printing Industry article regarding cybersecurity considerations for 3D printing.  The article featured his work on visible light sensing-based 3D printing quality assurance and its utility for securing printing output and the printing process.  Read the article.

NDSU Takes Top 20 Spots in Team and Individual NCL Competitions

4/30/2021
NDSU has taken top spots, nationally, in National Cyber League (NCL) team and individual competitions.  The NDSU team took 19 place, nation-wide, out of hundreds of teams participating.  NDSU Computer Science undergraduate Jack Hance took 14th place, nationally, out of thousands of participating students.

Straub Featured on Prairie Public Radio

12/29/2020
Institute director Dr. Jeremy Straub was featured on Prairie Public Radio's Main Street program.  He discussed the recent large cybersecurity attack that has been widely attributed to Russia and cybersecurity in North Dakota.  Listen to the interview.

Kotala Interviewed on "Down the Road with Joel"

12/21/2020
Computer Science Asst. Prof. Pratap Kotala  was interviewed by Joel Heitkamp on "Down the Road with Joel" about the recent cyberattack on U.S. federal government agencies.  Watch the interview.

WDAY Taps Cyber Security Institute for Distance Ed Cybersecurity Advice

12/1/2020
WDAY interviewed NDSU Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub to provide North Dakotans with advice on how to properly secure their computers and network connections for participation in distance education courses.  Read more.  

NDSU Takes Top Spots Nationally in National Cyber League Competition

11/25/2020
NDSU has again taken top spots in the National Cyber League competition.  The NDSU team took 50th place, out of hundreds of teams participating nationally.  NDSU Computer Science undergraduate Jack Hance came in 13th place in the individual competition, out of thousands of participating students.

NDSU, MIT, JPL, AIAA and sci_Zone Develop CubeSat Cybersecurity Challenge at ASCEND Conference

11/17/2020
The NDSU Cyber Security Institute was one of five organizations that contributed to the AIAA ASCEND CubeSat Cybersecurity Challenge at the AIAA Ascend Conference.  Cyber Security Institute director Dr. Jeremy Straub collaborated with staff from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics and sci_Zone to develop the challenge.  More details.

Straub Featured on NBC National News Program

9/24/2020
NDSU computer science assistant professor and Challey Institute faculty fellow Jeremy Straub was featured on NBC’s National NBCLX news program Sept 18. Straub was interviewed about the impact and security considerations of the pending federal ban on TikTok and WeChat.  Read more.

Asst. Prof. Interviewed About Seed Packages Used for Faking E-Commerce Ratings

NDSU Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub was interviewed by WDAY regarding the use of "mysterious seed packages" shipped to individuals' households and what the shippers hope to gain from them.  Straub discussed how online sellers sometimes place fake orders for small items to increase their seller ratings to entice buyers to order larger things.  Watch the interview.

3D Printing Cybersecurity Work Featured in Digital Engineering 247

7/16/2020
A recent article on Digital Enginering 247 discusses the risks posed by cybersecurity breaches of 3D printing systems.  The article features 3D printing cyberassurance work by Dr. Jeremy Straub. Read more.

Straub Featured on WDAY

7/7/2020
Dr. Jeremy Straub was featured on WDAY to discuss the cybersecurity implications of the proposed TikTok ban.  Watch the interview.

NDSU Students Win National Recognition in National Cyber League Competition

4/30/2020
NDSU students took top spots nationally at in the National Cyber League competition.  NDSU's National Cyber League team came in 46th place, out of hundreds of teams competing, in the Spring 2020 NCL competition.  Computer Science undergraduate Jack Hance took 16th place, nationally, out of thousands of competing students.

WDAY Interviews Straub Regarding Videoconferencing Security

4/2/2020
WDAY's Nick Broadway interviewed NDSU Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub regarding how videoconferencing can be protected from 'Zoom bombers' for the WDAY News.  Watch the interview.

NDSU cybersecurity programs, students win honors

3/13/2020
NDSU has been recognized for the excellence of its cybersecurity programs, in several areas. NDSU received the top award for North American cybersecurity education in the large organization category. Several efforts at NDSU and individuals associated with NDSU also were recognized.

Over the course of the last year, NDSU has been a worldwide leader in cybersecurity education. The university has been recognized as a National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research. NDSU also has expanded its cybersecurity course offerings, run a summer camp for high school students with a cybersecurity interest, taken top spots at multiple cybersecurity competitions, sponsored multiple college student-focused events and been recognized for cybersecurity education innovations.  Read more.

NDSU team takes seventh place in National Cyber League competition

12/9/2019
A team of NDSU students took seventh place, out of nearly 800 registered teams, in the Network Traffic Analysis portion of the National Cyber League Team Competition. The team took 14th place in Enumeration and Exploitation, 25th place in Log Analysis and 28th place overall.  The team scored the maximum number of possible points in the Open Source Intelligence, Log Analysis, Network Traffic Analysis and Enumeration and Exploitation sections.  Read more.

NDSU Interview Part of Fargo Forum Feature Cybersecurity Story

12/6/2019
NDSU was prominently featured in a feature story in the Fargo Forum regarding how businesses and individuals can be secure.  The article, titled "Cybersecurity 'has to be in your DNA' to fend off hacking threats," was written by Helmut Schmidt.  Read the article.

NDSU students participate in Inaugural Hivestorm cybersecurity competition

12/2/2019
Three teams of NDSU students participated in the first Hivestorm cybersecurity competition. The new competition pits student teams against each other to secure Linux and Windows servers during a four-hour competition window. Each team is given servers that have misconfigurations and other issues that they must identify and remediate to secure them. This is a typical scenario for many information technology positions.  Read more.

NDSU institute hosts Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week speakers

11/25/2019
Regional cybersecurity professionals participated in a speaker series, hosted by the NDSU Institute for Cybersecurity Education and Research, for Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week Nov. 11-16. Cybersecurity career awareness week was proclaimed by Gov. Doug Burgum in North Dakota, and is sponsored nationally by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Read more.

NDSU student places in top 50 in national cybersecurity competition

11/13/2019
NDSU computer science junior Jack Hance took 42nd place out of more than 5,000 students nationwide in the Fall 2019 National Cyber League competition. In addition to his overall top 50 place, Hance took 30th place in Wireless Access Exploitation and 51st place in Web Application Exploitation.  Hance was one of 10 NDSU students who competed.  Read more.

NDSU students participate in cybersecurity competition

10/30/2019
NDSU students traveled to Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, Tennessee, to compete in the Collegiate Pentesting Competition. The competition puts students in the role of professional penetration testers – individuals that test computer systems and networks to find and fix problems before nefarious individuals hack the system. They compete with other teams to find and document issues with a simulated network in just the way professional penetration testers would in the real-world.  Read more.

National Security Agency researcher visits NDSU

10/8/2019
A cybersecurity researcher from the U.S. National Security Agency recently visited campus to present on Integrated adaptive cyber defense to NDSU students, faculty and staff. Others from the region – including other colleges, universities and area businesses – also were invited and attended the presentation.

Integrated adaptive cyber defense techniques seek to automate the cyberattack response process by preparing components of the network and systems to identify and take protective action with humans acting as approvers, as opposed to responders.  The proposed technique is a collaboration between the National Security Agency, Department of Homeland Security and Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.  A representative from John Hopkins also attended and presented on the topic.  Read more.

NDSU faculty honored by governor

9/30/2019
NDSU Department of Computer Science faculty members are part of a group that received the Roaming Bison Award from North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. They are members of the ND K-20W Initiative Team, which has worked to create educational opportunities for students at all levels in the areas of computing and cybersecurity.

Kendall E. Nygard, Pratap Kotala, Brian Slator and Jeremy Straub worked with partners from more than 40 other agencies and private sector firms as part of the initiative. According to the award citation, the effort developed a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive cyber education strategy for North Dakotans from kindergarten through doctorate and into the workforce. The group’s work established North Dakota as a national leader in cyber education.  Read more.

Students come from across the country to research cybersecurity at NDSU

9/11/2019
For the second summer in a row, students from across the country have come to NDSU to participate in a 10-week intensive Research Experience for Undergraduates program where they learn how to research and develop software for attacking, defending and detecting attacks against cyber-physical systems like robots and industrial controllers for water and power.  Read more

NDSU Holds Second GenCyber Camp

8/21/2019
NDSU held its second GenCyber camp.  This camp was North Dakota's first residential GenCyber camp and brought students from across North Dakota and Minnesota to the NDSU campus to learn about cybersecurity and computing.  Read more.

NDSU students attend DefCon cybersecurity conference

8/12/2019
For the second year in a row, a group of NDSU students attended the DefCon cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas. The experience provides an opportunity for students to learn about all types of cybersecurity from world leaders.

The students who attended will bring will back information and share it with other NDSU students through activities of the Cybersecurity Student Organization. Some DefCon activities may be included in next summer’s GenCyber camp for high school students or, perhaps, undergraduate courses at NDSU.  More details.

NDSU places second in National Cyber Cup competition

6/6/2019
A four-person team from NDSU has taken second place in the National Cyber Cup student cybersecurity competition. The competition, held as part of the National Cyber Summit in Huntsville, Alabama, brought together student competitors from across the nation.

NDSU’s team included computer science sophomore and team captain Jack Hance, senior Bryant Lennick, graduate student Pann Ajjimaporn and Pranay Marella from Mississippi State University, who is conducting undergraduate research at NDSU this summer.  Read more.

NDSU named National Center for Cybersecurity Academic Excellence

4/24/2019
NDSU has been recognized by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research. The award was presented April 24 during the 2019 CAE Executive Leadership Forum in Pensacola, Florida.  Read more.

NDSU computer science announces participation in Cyber Fast Track national competition

2/20/2019
As part of its support for the North Dakota-wide K-20W effort, the North Dakota State University Department of Computer Science announced today that it will have students participate in the Cyber Fast Track program.  The K-20W initiative is a collaborative effort with more than 40 public and private sector partners who are advancing statewide efforts to provide computer science and cybersecurity training and resources to North Dakota’s educators and students ranging from kindergarten through Ph.D. students and into the workforce.  The Cyber Fast Track program allows students to assess and demonstrate their skills to succeed in cybersecurity careers through a specialized online assessment tool and game. 

NDSU computer science students excel in cyber competition

11/27/2018
NDSU students demonstrated they are ready to become the next generation of cyber security personnel, when they won four top 10 finishes during the National Cyber League’s Fall 2018 team competition and 19th place overall, out of more than 350 teams. Read more.

NDSU named Palo Alto Networks Authorized Cybersecurity Academy

12/20/2018
The NDSU Department of Computer Science and Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research have been recognized as an authorized center for the Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Academy program. The recognition gives NDSU students enrolled in cybersecurity courses access to Palo Alto Networks resources, including curriculum and virtual firewalls, for educational activities.  Read more.

Cybersecurity Career Fair

11/14/2018
NDSU held a small career fair for students interested in cybersecurity.  Seven companies came to NDSU to recruit students for jobs.  Participants included Western Bank, Discovery Benefits and the US Army.  Read more.

WDAY Features NDSU Students Working on Voting Security

10/31/2018
WDAY News featured a group of NDSU students who are working on voting security and asked them how secure voting systems are.  Watch the interview.

WDAY Interviews Kendall E. Nygard, Kelvin Boatey

9/20/2018
WDAY interviewed Computer Science Department Chair Kendall E. Nygard and undergraduate student Kelvin Boatey regarding cybersecurity education at NDSU.  The segment discussed the ongoing need for cybersecurity professionals, given the magnitude of recent attacks and stated that "NDSU has quite the pool to pull from, and Bison computer science students more than prepared to answer the call."

Watch the interview here.

NDSU cybersecurity teams compete nationally

8/8/2018
The Cybersecurity Student Organization and the computer science department’s cybersecurity competition teams are examples of student groups that help enhance the overall campus experience, while providing valuable skills for the job market and networking opportunities.

The cybersecurity teams, made up of computer science and computer engineering students, compete in the National Cyber League, National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, MITRE competition and regional challenges. NDSU students working individually and as teams are able to experience cybersecurity attack and defense issues in real-world scenarios while competing against some of the top universities in the country.  Read more.

Student researches cybersecurity to combat fake news

8/1/2018
NDSU student Nicholas Snell was featured in the West Fargo Pioneer in an article that focused on his participation as part of NDSU's research experience for undergraduates program.  His work focused on detecting fake news content.  Read more.

NDSU takes fifth at national cybersecurity competition

5/2/2018
NDSU finished fifth at the national MITRE STEM “capture the flag” cybersecurity competition recently held online.  They beat about 300 college teams nationwide during the 24-hour long competition.  Read more.

Student Interviewed by WDAY Regarding Cybersecurity

NDSU Computer Science freshman Michael Gibbons and Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub were interviewed by WDAY to give advise to the public regarding an ongoing Facebook scam.  Check out the news story here.

Cybersecurity institute hosts week of speakers

11/21/2017
Regional cybersecurity leaders participated in the NDSU Institute for Cybersecurity Education and Research’s speaker series Nov. 13-18. Speaker presentations throughout the week highlighted National Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week.

Kendall Nygard, professor of computer science at and institute director, kicked off the series on Monday with a discussion of academic careers and educational opportunities. NDSU’s chief information security officer Enrique Garcia talked on Tuesday about careers in information technology and how to prepare for them.

Tim Jensen, senior penetration tester with AppSec Consulting, on Wednesday discussed careers in security consulting. He gave students a firsthand perspective on working in an area that is constantly changing to find and respond to security vulnerabilities. On Thursday, Jerry Wynne, vice president of security and chief information security officer at the Noridian Mutual Insurance Co., provided a management perspective, discussed responding to incidents like the Fargo flood and explained how to get jobs in the field.

Marine Corps Maj. Terry Traylor, who has worked in electronic warfare, finished the series on Friday with a presentation about U.S. military and intelligence agency careers in cyber intelligence and security.

Most of the presentations were recorded and are available for viewing online.

Valley News Live focuses on cybersecurity

10/10/2017
NDSU students Chengyao Tang and Isaac Burton and Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub were interviewed by reporter Kristi Larson in a report airing on Valley News Live's morning program.  The report focused on cybersecurity.  Burton and Tang, who recently placed among the top 15% of students nationwide in the National Cyber League competition, discussed what they had learned as part of preparing for the NCL competition.  View the report here.

Assoc. Director presents at Automotive Conference

Institute Associate Director and Computer Science Assistant Professor Jeremy Straub recently presented at the Autonomous Vehicle Test & Development Symposium in Novi, Michigan. He presented a presentation entitled "Cybersecurity for autonomous vehicles: problems and solutions".

Learn more about the conference at:
http://www.autonomousvehiclesymposium.com/detroit

Institute Featured in Prairie Business Magazine Article

10/10/2017
"Cyberopportunity: That’s how to think of cybersecurity ..." is the apt title of a recent article in Prairie Business Magazine that featured the NDSU Computer Science Department and the Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research.  The article discusses the demand for employees with cybersecurity skills and educational opportunities at NDSU (and other institutions) to allow students to learn these skills.  Read the article here.

National Cyber League Member Featured in Newspaper

9/28/2017
That National Cyber League team, team member Isaac Burton and team mentor and Computer Science Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub were featured in the Lake County News Chronicle today. The article discusses NCL, the benefits of participation and why Isaac decided to participate in the team.

Check out the article, here.

National Cyber League Team Featured on Valley News Live

9/22/2017
NDSU undergraduate students Kelvin Boatey and Isaac Burton and Computer Science Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub were interviewed by Valley News Live about NDSU's new National Cyber League team on the September 22nd newscasts at 9:00 (WB affiliate KXJB) and 10:00 PM (NBC affiliate KVLY and CBS affiliate KXJB).  The group discussed the educational value and benefits of participation.  View it online here.

Tech Shield Features NDSU National Cyber League Cyber "Warriors"

9/18/2017
NDSU will participate in the National Cyber League (NCL), for the first time, this Fall.  A recent article in popular cybersecurity website Tech Shield features the team, including NDSU undergraduate students Everett Kuntz, Kelvin Boatey, Andrew Wickoren, Isaac Burton, Michael Gibbons, Steven Karschnia and Zach Kunz.  Participation in NCL is not only an exciting extracurricular activity, it also allows students to demonstrate their cybersecurity skills to potential employers.  Read the article here.

Kendall E. Nygard Interviewed on KFGO

9/12/2017
Computer Science Department Chair and NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research Director Kendall E. Nygard was recently interviewed on KFGO's It Takes 2 with Jack & Amy.  The interview covered the institute, new programs and plans for the future.  Listen to the interview here.

Cyber Security Employees in Demand

9/10/2017
A recent report highlights the importance of cyber security education and provides some tips to job seekers.  It predicts that there will be 3,500,000 open cyber security jobs by 2021.  In this same year, losses from cyber crime are expected to be $6 trillion.  Currently the cyber security employment rate is 0%.  According to Morgan, “colleges and universities are not turning out enough cybersecurity graduates to make a dent in the current openings for information security analysts and other entry-level jobs” in the field.  NDSU's Computer Science Department and the Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research offer courses on cyber security topics as part of bachelor’s, master's, Ph.D. and certificate programs that are relevant to cyber security.

Assoc. Director Interviewed About Equifax Hack

9/8/2017
When WDAY wanted expert input on the Equifax hack for their nightly newscast, they came to the NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research.  Institute Assoc. Dir. and Computer Science Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub was interviewed by WDAY reporter Ty Filley for a segment that aired on the September 8th 10 PM newscast.  Watch the segment online, here.

Assoc. Director Interviewed in Brazilian Tech Magazine

9/6/2017
Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research Associate Director Jeremy Straub was recently interviewed in Epoca, a popular Brazilian tech media magazine.  Reporter Paula Soprana asked Straub about current cybersecurity challenges as well as discussing future threats.  You can read the article online here

Institute Assoc. Director Quoted in Futurism Article

8/31/2017
NDSU Computer Science Asst. Professor and Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research Assoc. Director Jeremy Straub was recently quoted in an article on the popular Futurism website about the advent of autonomous cyber attacks.  Read the article, entitled "Experts Warn That AI-Enhanced Cyberattacks Are An Imminent Threat" at Futurism.com.

NDSU Cyber Security Tour 'Kicks Off' at Leach Public Library

8/17/2017
The NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research is touring North Dakota to help everyone learn about the need for cyber security for personal, business and other purposes.  The first stop of this tour was the Leach Public Library in Wahpeton, North Dakota.  Participants learned about how they can secure their personal information and got to see one of NDSU's self-driving car data collection vehicles, a computer server and robots.  The tour will continue in other cities around North Dakota. 

Kendall E. Nygard serves as Co-Editor of Journal Special Issue

Dr. Kendall E. Nygard is serving as Co-Editor of a special issue of The International Journal of Computers and Their Applications with co-editors Drs. Eugénio C. Oliveira of the University of Porto in Portugal and Maximilian M. Etschmaier of San Diego State University. The theme of the special issue concerns the relationships between humans and autonomous or semi-autonomous systems. Given the rise of artificial intelligence, and deep learning in particular, the argument for systems to carry out autonomous actions with little or no human involvement becomes more compelling. The ethical, social, and legal issues that arise involve the concept of system trust, which is intertwined with cybersecurity. The special issue of the Journal will be available in December of 2017.

North Dakota Lt. Governor, Brent Sanford, visits NDSU Computer Science

07/12/2017
Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford visited the NDSU Computer Science Department today.  He met with professor and department chair Kendall Nygard, who provided an overview about ongoing department initiatives in cyber security and unmanned aerial systems.  Nygard also provided Sanford with information about the strong job market for Computer Science graduates in North Dakota and beyond.  Asst. Prof. Jeremy Straub also briefly described ongoing research efforts in autonomous vehicles, robotics and spacecraft development.

Cybersecurity publications featured in 3D Printing Industry

06/26/2017
Two of Asst. Professor Jeremy Straub’s recent cybersecurity publications at the SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing conference were the topic of a feature article on industry news website 3D Printing Industry.  The website is known as “the authority on 3D printing” and publishes “the most widely read newsletter in the 3D printing industry” (the article discussing Straub’s work was also featured in this newsletter).  The work that was highlighted discusses techniques aimed at preventing and detecting cyber-attacks that could cause object defects and other issues.  Read the article at: 3dprintingindustry.com/news/additive-manufacturing-cybersecurity-how-to-protect-3d-printers-from-cyber-attack-116677/&nbsp

NDSU poised to become leader in cybersecurity

When reading what Maj. Gen. Richard Nash and Minnesota Chief Information Officer Thomas Baden are working on to address cybersecurity issues in Minnesota (Inforum May 7), we were inspired to share some of the cybersecurity efforts at North Dakota State University and across the North Dakota University System.

As some readers may know, NDSU Computer Science Professor Kendall Nygard was tasked by Chancellor Mark Hagerott to lead cybersecurity efforts across the North Dakota University System. We are extremely proud of the efforts that we have undertaken and the milestones achieved thus far.

Read full article here: http://www.inforum.com/opinion/columnists/4272401-column-ndsu-poised-become-leader-cybersecurity

 

NDSU team works to create cybersecurity systems for self-driving cars

A group of North Dakota State University students is developing software to ensure that when self-driving cars tool down our roads, they will be safe from cyberattacks.“You really want to make sure that how you protect this is thought of very early in the game,” said Jerry Straub, an assistant professor of computer science who is guiding the effort.“This is the type of technology where you don’t want to wait for the attacker” to make his attack, he said.Some people might see hacking the operating system of a vehicle or transportation system as a thrill or a symbol of prestige, with deadly consequences.“If a car is hacked, you might have someone seriously injured or dying within minutes,” Straub said.The push for autonomous vehicles is accelerating and the U.S. is expected to be a huge market, though there is much work and coordination to be done by automakers, governments and other firms.Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, has said fully autonomous Teslas could be ready by 2018 and gain government approval by 2021.Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota, Honda, BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Ford and other automakers are working on self-driving vehicles. Google is also developing autonomous vehicles.Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said on Twitter he expects his firm’s fleet to be fully autonomous by 2030.

John McMillan, a sophomore from Vadnais Heights, Minn., is one of a handful of students on the NDSU software design team. Each student works on a different aspect of cybersecurity, including management of vehicles if there is an accident; identifying and dealing with emergency vehicles; control among vanets (groups of vehicles) and identifying attacks; security systems for individual cars; and security for roadside units or towers that coordinate the transit system.

The challenge is magnified by the fact that there are no fixed systems in place. But that is also the allure, McMillan said.“To really be the first people to research into this was super appealing,” he said. “We’re defining this as we go and defining questions no one has looked at yet.”Straub said the initiative has not required a lot of money, so it has been funded by NDSU. But as self-driving car coordination evolves, Straub hopes NDSU is positioned to receive federal funds for advanced research and real-world testing.Freshman Abdullah Almosalami, is working on protecting vehicles when they are not connected to a network,.Efficient traffic management, highway control and preventing accidents “require security for networks,” he said. “That’s something that definitely needs to be resolved, and hopefully, by us.”Almosalami said he wants to see a future with self-driving cars.“I want to see a future that’s smarter. ... Humans can make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes are real costly,” he said. “But If we have a machine that doesn’t make mistakes and handles things in a better way, we have a better world. The goal is progress.”IHS Automotive estimates that nearly 76 million vehicles with some level of autonomy will be sold globally by 2035, with sales of 21 million autonomous vehicles in 2035 alone.The students use computer simulations and model vehicles for testing. Over the next six or seven weeks, they’ll work to flush out problems in their system, McMillan said.

“We’re just plugging and chugging and figuring things out as we go,” he said.

This article was originally published in the Bismarck Tribune on March 25, 2017.

Top of page