“When I started, I did not think about studying cybersecurity. My strong point was mathematics as my parents were very strong in math and they encouraged me to get the grasp of it in a fun, interactive way. When I was very young, though, my grandfather’s hobby was wireless radio, so I also became interested in wireless radios from a very early age. When I began my Ph.D., my natural choice was to study wireless networking where I would be able to learn all about radios. Also, at that time wireless networking just started to become part of our day-to-day lives.
My research started with, ‘how we can make a radio intelligent?’ In 1999, Joseph Mitola III and Gerald Q. Maguire Jr coined the term ‘cognitive radio’ – a radio with cognition power, so it can learn, analyze, and make decisions. I started by researching cognitive radio. The University of Central Florida where I did my Ph.D. was very big on interdisciplinary studies and had a club that only gave scholarships to those highest-grade proposals which took an interdisciplinary perspective. I started to think about cognitive radio from an interdisciplinary perspective – anthropology, human society, economics and computer science. Very quickly, I learned that when we develop something, it must have resilience. Making something intelligent is not sufficient; you need to make it resilient and secure, so it is not easily compromised. That started my interest in cybersecurity.
My first tenure-track assistant professor job was at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, one of the very first colleges that started interdisciplinary cybersecurity. There, we taught cybersecurity to the students – who would eventually become law enforcement officials – from a very comprehensive perspective, teaching them technology, policy, law, ethics, psychology, and human behavior. Thus, my research in cybersecurity also started to become more interdisciplinary and I started to discover unique ways of looking into this problem.
When I came to the University of Nevada, Reno, we started an interdisciplinary group, and submitted our first NSF grant involving capacity building across five disciplines with ten faculty members. Everyone began to think about cybersecurity from an interdisciplinary perspective, and that’s true around the world today.
How does the future look? As the scope of cyberspace is becoming more complex with the emergence of new innovations and technologies, the need and significance of cybersecurity education and research across various disciplines cannot be overlooked. Cybersecurity in these areas will require well-trained proactive decision-making professionals, who are not only aware of their core disciplines but are also aware of the cybersecurity risks of their designs as well as risks from other interconnected disciplines. Moreover, with quantum computing on the horizon, cybersecurity is entering into a very interesting era and now is the time for us to recognize the potential danger and start investigating post-quantum cryptography and cybersecurity.”