A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

START’s cybersecurity fellowship offers UMD undergraduates extensive support

To help train the next generation of practitioners and scholars in the rapidly growing cybersecurity field, START is recruiting three University of Maryland undergraduate students for the Cyber Security Fellows Program (CySeF) for the 2014-2015 academic year. CySeF is a comprehensive program designed to prepare undergraduate students for a professional career in the homeland security science and the technology arena.

The fellowship program provides students with in-state tuition for an academic year, as well as a monthly stipend and salary for a 10-week summer internship.

Throughout their tenure in the program, CySeF students participate in research apprenticeships, working under Maryland Cybersecurity Center researcher, Michel Cukier during the fall, spring and summer terms.  Students work on Cukier’s project, “Experimental Criminology in Cyberspace: How Does Warning and Surveillance Impact Attackers’ Behavior?” and examine the ways in which warning and surveillance in targeted systems affect attackers and their ability to control those systems. 

Working under Cukier, students have the opportunity to conduct research using University of Maryland Office of Information Technology (OIT) datasets. Unlike any other databases currently under study, the datasets capture information on network flows, intrusion attempts and known incidents of corrupted computers on the University network. Students work with Cukier to collect, clean and analyze the data, developing tools to predict trends in computer and network security incidents and to develop cyber attacker profiles.

Coupled with their hands on laboratory experience, CySeF students concurrently participate in a for-credit qualitative research experience with START Education Director Kate Izsak.

“Students from computer science and engineering—what we might call the technical side of cybersecurity—have the opportunity to develop expertise in social science theories and methods related to human factors in cybersecurity,” Izsak said.

Under Izsak’s guidance, students examine the history of cybersecurity and digital terrorism attacks, compile an extensive list of cyber attacks and the groups involved and analyze case studies of previous attacks.

This year’s students have worked on the development of a multi-week, online simulation of a cyber attack against a state government agency. 

“The students have been able to bring their diverse backgrounds to bear on the assignment, drawing on their technical expertise on the nature of cyber attacks, and the work they have done in the program on attacker motivations and behaviors,” said Izsak. “They have played a major role in the development of simulation, injecting original and creative elements into what I expect to become a fast-based and lively game-based learning exercise.”

CySeF offers its students extensive opportunities to gain experience and build a network in the homeland security field. Students receive valuable hands-on experience to provide them with a competitive edge for pursuing a career in homeland security. 

CySeF students also receive support to attend the START Annual Meeting and DHS Career Development Conference. These major events provide students with a chance to network with DHS representatives, students and START researchers.

The CySeF program will be graduating its first student, Tom Georgen, in May 2014.

"As part of the CySeF program, I've enjoyed being exposed to experts in multiple fields related to cyber security and gaining a multidisciplinary approach to the subject outside of my computer science major,” Georgen said. “I've gained a better understanding of cyber attackers and the cyber security field that will assist me when I begin work as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton after completing the CySeF program."

Applications for CySeF are currently open and will close May 16, 2014. Eligibility and application process requirements are posted in START’s education section.

For any questions regarding the fellowship program contact Marcella Morris at mmorri11@umd.edu.