With goals to seek interdisciplinary solutions, engage with the community, build partnership opportunities and connect with students, the second annual Cybersecurity Conference at the University hosted prominent companies and consultants on March 2.
“Cybersecurity has tremendous implications—the demand of the field is large and increasing, so creating opportunities of discussion is important to us,” said Shamik Sengupta, associate professor of computer science and engineering and executive director of the Cybersecurity Center.
Cybersecurity affects multiple economic industries throughout the state, such as aerospace and defense, banking, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and online gaming.
“We really worked hard to diversify our economy here,” said Reno mayor Hillary Schieve, who delivered the opening remarks. “We wanted to embrace technology and innovation.”
Keynote speaker Mike Buglewicz, mission support and test services LLC contractor to the United States Department of Energy and program manager of the Emergency Communication Network Services Division, described cybersecurity as a “ubiquitous word that means all sorts of different things to different people.” Attacks can happen on the supply chain, or software, hardware and other services, along with cyber systems, informational technology, or IT, and in the human domain as well. As a part of the Nevada National Security Site, or NNSS, Buglewicz stressed the importance of their initiative to ensure security of the country and its allies by supporting the stewardship of the nuclear deterrent, provides emergency response capability and training and contributes to key nonproliferation and arms control initiatives.
He also mentioned the importance of having a collaboration with universities because of their unique perspectives when it comes to producing better solutions.
"I’m a strong advocate for diversity—diversity of thought, of different perspectives, thinking 360 degrees and then some in order to be successful,” he said.
During the first session of Byte Talks, cybersecurity consultant and retired Counterintelligence Special Agent Tony Rucci stressed the importance of avoiding ransomware, which can come in the forms of emails or links in text messages.
“When [you or your company] gets ransomware, it’s game over if you don’t have backups,” Rucci said. “Make sure you build a resilient backup and recovery strategy and that your IT team is confident in it.”
The conference also hosted a research showcase, where the breadth of departmental projects were on display. Showcases included the Nevada Cyber Club and their skill development through competition participation, and the Cybersecurity Center’s launch of the NV Cyber Range, a virtual sandbox created to simulate military defense and operations. Also featured was assistant professor Emily Hand, the director of the University’s Machine Perception Lab, who is working on improving face verifications using caricatures, or exaggerated portraits of people’s faces.