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College Creates Center for Cybersecurity and Technology | SUNY Plattsburgh

The SUNY Plattsburgh School of Business and Economics has opened a new Center for Cybersecurity and Technology, a special collaboration among faculty in the computer science department and the management information systems and analytics department.

At the onset, the center checked all the boxes for a new initiative. It offered the intersection of student and employer demand, faculty expertise and interest, and market space, said Dr. Rowena Ortiz-Walters, dean of the School of Business and Economics.

Student interns at the center will help build and manage a computer network, learning to do things like conduct vulnerability assessments to identify strengths and weak spots in the network. The experience will prepare them for jobs like security analyst or cyber security engineer.

‘Like Working For a Start-Up’

Companies in a wide range of industries are constantly presented with challenges regarding data security and the strength of their internal systems, Ortiz-Walters said.

“Having talent come out of schools that are going to be able to manage these projects is really critical,” she said.

The School of Business and Economics is grateful to donors who helped outfit the new center with equipment, Ortiz-Walters said.

'Very high energy, very cutting edge stuff.'

Two student co-directors, juniors Robert Hartman and Marisa Atkinson, are interning at the center this semester and are working on configuring firewalls, intrusion detection systems, network monitoring and setting up a malware analysis virtual lab.

"The way I describe it for my students it's like working for a start-up. Very high energy, very cutting edge stuff,” said Cristian Balan '99 G '01 CAS '03. Balan is coordinator for the Center for Cybersecurity and Technology and lecturer of management information systems and analytics..

As the former chief of the Vermont Army National Guard Computer Network Defense Team, Balan brings extensive experience in system administration and security to the center.

Students working in the center, nicknamed PSU Hackerspace, abide by a white hacker agreement that clearly specifies they will engage only in legal and ethical behavior in their work there.

Expansion in Future

In the future, the Center for Cybersecurity and Technology’s functions will expand to include digital forensics platforms that could help support local law enforcement agencies and outreach to local schools, with the goal of bringing area students into the center to interact with the college students and complete hands-on activities, Balan said.

Hartman, a junior management information systems major said the center provides a venue for experimentation and practice that goes beyond homework assignments.

“When it comes to cyber security, the field is always changing. By having a place to apply our learning and practice the skills, it will help a lot for a future career in the field,” Hartman said.

Atkinson, a double major in computer security and management information systems, said her work at the center is preparing her for a career in computer security.

“It’s excellent experience,” she said.

The Center for Cybersecurity and Technology’s grand opening is Friday, March 24 from noon to 3 p.m. in Au Sable Hall 123.

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