Georgia Impact Science & Technology

UGA connects big data and cybersecurity expertise to Georgia communities

Griffin/Spalding County is one of the pilot sites for the new cybersecurity initiative.
Griffin/Spalding County is one of the pilot sites for the new cybersecurity initiative.

The University of Georgia is extending its cybersecurity expertise across the state through a new initiative that will help businesses and communities identify ways to safeguard against potentially devastating cyberattacks.

Two communities in Georgia — Hart County and Griffin/Spalding County — will pilot the CyberArch program, which connects business and civic leaders with faculty from UGA Public Service and Outreach, the UGA Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy and the broader Georgia Informatics Institutes for Research and Education at UGA.

“As the state’s most comprehensive research university, the University of Georgia is committed to addressing the grand challenges facing our state,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “With nationally recognized faculty and an extensive statewide network, UGA is uniquely positioned to help individuals, businesses and local governments identify ways to safeguard their critical data and infrastructure.”

Along with Georgia Tech, UGA is one of only two universities in the state to be designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency. Faculty members in the UGA Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy, part of the university’s department of computer science, conduct research in network and system security, security for mobile devices and the Internet of Things, and cyber-crime attribution, as well as several other areas related to cybersecurity. The campus-wide Georgia Informatics Institutes is a hub for research and instruction related to big data, and it fosters collaboration among campus units such as the Health Informatics Institute and department of management information systems.

In addition to research and instruction, UGA holds service as a core component of its three-part mission, with units across the state dedicated to addressing community and economic development needs. Hart County and Griffin/Spalding County were chosen as pilot communities for the CyberArch program through their participation in the university’s Archway Partnership, a nationally recognized, collaborative and intensive program that addresses community-identified needs.

On Dec. 15, UGA faculty, staff and students will hold their initial meeting with business and civic leaders in Hart County to identify community priorities and explore ideas for promoting a culture of data security. A similar meeting is planned for January in Griffin.

“Individuals as well as organizations large and small are increasingly facing digital threats to the security of critical data and infrastructure,” said Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Pamela Whitten. “Through the CyberArch program, we are bringing research-based best practices to the public and private sectors to promote security and economic vitality.”

The CyberArch program builds on existing Public Service and Outreach programs related to cybersecurity, including the CyberStrength program offered through the university’s Small Business Development Center. In addition, UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government provides technical assistance and security audits for local governments and regional commissions and offers training that helps chief information officers and other government employees proactively address vulnerabilities that put sensitive data and infrastructure at risk.

“As the land-grant and sea-grant institution, the University of Georgia is continually looking to extend its reach and show the impact of our research and teaching in ways that can directly benefit the state,” said Laura Meadows, UGA interim vice president for public service and outreach. “The community based CyberArch initiative is a perfect opportunity to do just that. We believe that our work in Hart and Spalding counties could become a model for all of Georgia when it comes to cybersecurity.”