SARASOTA, Fla. (June 26, 2018) – The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee  and Florida International University  (FIU) have been awarded a $100,000 grant to develop academic programs focused on cybersecurity.
The Florida Center for Cybersecurity , known as FC2, a statewide research facility at the University of South Florida  in Tampa, awarded the funding three weeks ago to enable the campuses to jointly develop cybersecurity laboratories and instructional programs.
“Cybersecurity is becoming a specialty by itself,” said Dr. Ehsan Sheybani, an associate professor of information systems and decision sciences at USFSM’s College of Business. “Cyber threats are critical issues these days. I think what we are contributing will be well received because there’s a great demand for programs like this.”
Dr. Sheybani and Dr. Giti Javidi, an assistant professor of information technology, will collaborate with two associates from FIU to carry out plans for the grant. This marks the first time USFSM has received funding in cybersecurity and comes as the College of Business  is preparing a new undergraduate program this fall in cybersecurity and information technology.
USFSM will use the grant funding to pay for software, hardware and student assistants to create an advanced forensic laboratory to support the instructional program. Additionally, outside cybersecurity experts and other academicians will be invited to the lab to consult with instructors and students.
“We want to teach students how to detect and prevent cyberattacks to mobile devices, laptops and databases. Sometimes hackers get into your devices and you won’t even notice,” Dr. Sheybani said. “We’re trying to teach our students how to detect and prevent these kinds of attacks.”
Dr. Sheybani said the timing of the grant is ideal, as more colleges and universities are focusing on cybersecurity as a field of study. This fall, USF – which already offers classes in cybersecurity – will debut a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree.
In addition, experts predict that jobs in cybersecurity will grow nearly 30 percent through 2026, with a median salary for information security analysts at more than $95,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics .
The growing need for cybersecurity experts reflects of what’s happening in society, said Dr. Sheybani. As identity theft, hacking and computer viruses continue to surface, institutions that store sensitive data will need to invest in IT security training and related technologies to combat these threats.
“Identity theft and hacks into e-commerce account for billions of dollars in financial losses every year,” he said. “The landscape of cyber threats is always evolving, so our students need to know the best course of action at any given time.”
To learn more about USFSM’s Information Technology program, visit usfsm.edu/academics/programs-and-majors/undergraduate/information-technology/index.aspx .