Cyber security growing at UTPB

·3 min read

Sep. 5—Assistant Professor Sohan Gyawali is one of a number of instructors who have joined a growing cyber security program at University of Texas Permian Basin.

Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered in a variety of areas. Gyawali said there are about 150 students in the undergraduate program and 15 to 20 in the graduate program.

The certificate programs are good for those who want to get into the job market quickly and those who already have a four-year degree, but want to get into cyber security.

"Cyber is one of the hottest discipline fields going. It has been estimated that the work force may be short a 1 million cyber professionals in the coming years. The job market for new cyber professionals and the earning potential is great," Dean of Arts and Sciences Scott McKay said.

New programming includes a bachelor of science in computer science with a track in cyber security; a master's in computer science with a track in cyber security; and undergraduate online certificate in cyber security and a graduate online certificate in cyber security, he said in an email.

UTPB has formed a Cyber Center conducting research in autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things. It also has a new summer camp on cyber security and programming.

Gyawali said with the Internet of Things and 5G, more devices will be connected to the internet and then the growing demand of the cyber security professionals.

He was drawn to UTPB by the STARs (Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention) program, which provides funding to help purchase state-of-the-art research equipment and make necessary laboratory renovations to encourage faculty members to perform their research at a UT institution, the UT website said.

Gyawali earned a doctorate in computer engineering, but his main research was related to cyber security. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in computer electronics and engineering and computer science from Tribhuvan University (Pulchowk campus) in Nepal.

Like McKay, Gyawali noted that the need for cyber security professionals is growing. He said the U.S. Department of Labor predicted that the job market would grow by 30 percent from 2018 to 2028.

"If you have more devices connected to the internet, there will be more cyber security breaches and there will be more attacks, so we will need more cyber security force.

"The main reason the cyber attacks are going is more devices are connected to the internet. We have a lot more devices. Our data is stored on the internet and they are more vulnerable to attack," Gyawali said.

From the industry perspective, controls like encryption, firewalls, identity management and access management can be used to help curtail attacks.

Similarly regular software updates and a strong password policy.

Gyawali said he reads a lot of papers to keep up on what's going on and they can be really recent, although theoretical, predicting what would be done if a certain attack happened.

He said it's like a game where they are the defender and they try to make their system stronger.

"We can never guarantee the system is 100 percent secure. There is no such thing as 100 percent secure. There's always a high probability that it is secure, but we cannot guarantee that it is secure," Gyawali said.

In his class, he teaches about algorithms and how they work, but they don't ask the students to create one.

Gyawali said he got interested in cyber security while working on his PhD, he was involved in research related to vehicle networks — car to car communication.

"There, I found out there are so many attacks that can be done on source communication. So car to car communication will be implemented in the near future, maybe in five years," Gyawali said.

Cars on the road will communicate with each other. When reading the literature, he found there can be a lot of attacks on the system.

"From that point, I started to go into the cyber security field and my PhD was related to machine learning, this misbehavior detection," he said.

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