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As NPR reported in May 2014, this tweet (left) from the National Security Agency (NSA) is not full of typos. The message is supposed to look like gibberish, but it’s actually an encrypted code intended to attract would-be cryptographers to work for the NSA. When decoded, the tweet reads:
“want to know what it takes to work at nsa? check back each monday as we explore careers essential to protecting your nation.”
The tweet is part of an ongoing attempt by the NSA to attract talented employees who have a penchant for code making and breaking. In 2011, the NSA also developed an app that generates a weekly cryptology puzzle meant to engage and attract talented individuals to the agency. Encryption is vitally important in the cyber age, when hackers not only penetrate private and corporate networks but those related national security as well.
In his introduction for Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and Digital Domain, Admiral Michael S. Rogers, USN Commander, US Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency; Chief, Central Security Service explores the vital role of cyber professionals in the pursuit of national security. He stresses that cyber attacks often occur for one of two reasons: cyber theft, such as hacking credit card numbers and other financial information, and political motivations, such as the recent attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment for releasing The Interview, a comedy film about North Korea’s political leadership.
As Admiral Rogers indicates, cyber threats are real and pose a growing concern because of our increasing dependence on cyber technologies. NSA’s cryptography recruitment strategy helps attract the best and brightest minds needed to counter cyber threats.
In the prologue for Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain, Lt. General Ron Burgess, Jr. (U.S.A. retired), Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs describes the whole new class of cyber warriors and civilian cyber professionals that will be needed to meet growing demand:
To learn more visit: www.auburn.edu/auburnspeaks
To purchase your copy now, visit the Auburn Speaks Store.
Cyber touches all our lives, directly and indirectly. Digitized information teaches us, entertains us, keeps track of our finances, monitors our health and our food supply, facilitates rapid and open communication, allows us near instantaneous access to information, and resides at the heart of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Released April 1, 2015 (along with our new AUgmented reality app, TigerView) the latest edition of award-winning series, Auburn Speaks, focuses on the phenomenon that is “cyber”.
Written by nationally and internationally-recognized Auburn experts, a broad array of topics are featured on subjects ranging from cyber security, national security, information assurance, big data, the changing nature of news and media, as well as cyber impacts on health, literature, media, film and theatre to name a few. Highlights include:
- Open Source Intelligence in the Cyber Age
- Safeguarding the Wireless World
- The Trusted Insider: A Spy in the Worst Possible Place
- Immersive Virtual Reality: Creating Characters for The Lord of the Rings to FBI Training
- The Future of Money: The Rise of Crypto Currency
- Hacked Off: The Sociology of Cyber Crime
- Agricultural Analytics: Harnessing Data to Feed a Hungry World
Featuring a special forward, “Security in the New Digital World” from Admiral Michael S. Rogers, USN Commander, US Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency; Chief, Central Security Service- and Auburn graduate.
In conjunction with the release of Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain, we are excited to unveil TigerView, our free augmented reality app. Throughout Auburn Speaks, articles have been enhanced with AUgmented reality that can be launched and enjoyed with TigerView. To sample enriched content, download TigerView to your smartphone or tablet, use the “View Now” feature to scan the cover of Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain (below) and experience AUgmented reality.
Auburn Speaks is an annual publication on Auburn University research targeting issues that impact life and work in our state and beyond. Auburn Speaks is produced by the Office the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University. To learn more, click here.
Copies may be purchased from the Auburn Speaks Store.
The stories behind the headlines, available in April 2015
“In recent years, technology has made a major impact on the way we think, how we work and the manner in which we share information, both professionally and privately. The immense ability to instantly transfer information, thoughts and ideas across a world stage has led to an unprecedented boon in information availability, research sharing and both social and industrial development.” –Eric O’Neill, founder of The Georgetown Group, LLC, former FBI operative, Auburn graduate and contributor to Auburn Speaks: On Cyber and the Digital Domain.
Cyber touches all our lives. Digitized information teaches us, entertains us, keeps track of our finances, monitors our health and our food supply, facilitates rapid and open communication, allows nearly instantaneous access to information and resides at the heart of our nation’s critical infrastructure. Enhanced with our new augmented reality app, TigerView, the latest edition of Auburn Speaks features stories of the Auburn men and women who are helping to not only navigate and secure the cyber frontier, but to explore the promise it offers.
To learn more about this award-winning series published by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Auburn University visit: http://www.auburn.edu/auburnspeaks
It’s Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day of the year, and if your inbox looks anything like ours, its filled with messages about online deals and sales. This year, retailers are anticipating more than $2 billion dollars in online transactions with an ever-increasing amount of those sales taking place from mobile devices. Each one of these transactions represents an opportunity for hackers. Today and everyday, the experts in the Auburn Cyber Research Center and in the Open Source Intelligence Lab are working to keep the cyber marketplace secure. To learn more about their efforts, visit: www.auburn.edu/cyber.
In the meantime, to help keep you safe during the online shopping season, the National Cyber Security Alliance has assembled some great tips through their StaySafeOnline initiative, and this morning seemed like a great time to pass them along:
Before you start your holiday shopping, remember to STOP. THINK. CONNECT.: Make sure security measures are in place, understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors and enjoy the benefits of the Internet.
Keep a Clean Machine: All the devices you use for shopping ‐ including smartphones and tablets ‐ should have up‐to‐date software including security software, operating systems, programs and apps.
When in Doubt, Throw it Out: Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cybercriminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it’s best to delete or if appropriate, mark as junk email.
Think Before you Act: Be wary of communications that offer amazing deals that sound too good to be true, implore you to act immediately ‐ including those about a problem with an order or payment or ask you to view the website via a provided link.
Get Savvy about Wi‐Fi Hotspots: Don’t share personal or financial information over an unsecured network (a connection that doesn’t require a password for access). Using the direct web access on your phone (via a 3G/4G connection) is safer than an unsecured wireless network when on your mobile device.
Make Sure the Site is Legitimate: This includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with shttp or https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured. For new sites, check online reviews.
Use Safe Payment Options: Credit cards are generally the safest option because they allow buyers to seek a credit from the issuer if the product isn’t delivered or isn’t what was ordered. Credit cards may have a limit on the monetary amount you will be responsible for paying. Never send cash through the mail or use a money‐wiring service.
Keep a Paper Trail: Save records of your online transactions, including the product description, price, online receipt, terms of the sale, and copies of email exchanges with the seller. Read your credit card statements as soon as you get them to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized charges. If there is a discrepancy, call your bank and report it immediately.
A newly organized consortium of the state’s top university cyber researchers has been awarded an NSF Science, Technology, and Society grant to develop a three-day conference at the National Science Foundation in Bethesda, Maryland in May. The conference will focus on ethics and digital forensics.
The Alabama Cyber Research Consortium (ALCRC) is a partnership of the seven PhD-granting universities in Alabama. Formed in 2013, after years of informal and formal collaborations between smaller groups of the partner Universities, the ALCRC is the culmination of individual and collective commitments to research, advanced development, education, and outreach in all areas of the cyber domain. Member institutions include: Alabama A&M University, Auburn University, Tuskegee University, The University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of South Alabama.
“This award represents the first funding opportunity and significant national recognition for the ALCRC. It powerfully demonstrates the validity of the consortium and how closely tied together we are as members. It also speaks to the new ways in which higher education can organize to advance research in critical areas like cyber,” said Anthony Skjellum, COLSA cyber security and information assurance professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering, and director of the Auburn Cyber Research Center in the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University.
The ALCRC, along with The University of Alabama’s Cyber Institute and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research have received a significant grant from the NSF to design a national conference in the spring of 2015. The event will provide opportunities for members of the cyber community to address critical issues in digital forensics, including a lack of unifying ethical standards, procedures and guidelines for routine activities such as forensic analysis, cyber-crime case processing and data mining/surveillance.
“Auburn University is proud to be recognized as one of the founding members of the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium for our focus on and role in addressing topics of such vital importance to our state and nation. It reflects our commitment to the primary mission of serving the people of Alabama,” said Lieutenant General (retired) Ron Burgess, senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs at Auburn University.
“This is the first time that the topic of ethical guidelines for digital forensic examiners has been openly discussed at such a high level forum, “ said John Sloan, director of UAB’s Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research, and principal investigator of the grant. “We hope to develop policies and ‘best practices’ as a result of this conference that will assist forensic examiners and reduce potential lawsuits and mishandled criminal cases.”
In a statement issued earlier this month, Reginald Hyde, executive director of The University of Alabama’s Cyber Institute said, “This grant is the first of many anticipated funded projects between members of the Alabama Cyber Research Consortium. UA’s Institute is excited to begin developing cyber policy—such as that projected by this project—that benefits the citizens of Alabama.”
The Alabama Cyber Research Consortium is an active group of scientists, engineers, and affiliates committed to creating solutions with practical impact on the state, local, regional, and national economy, and to helping consumers, corporations, and the public sector solve real problems and avoid significant harm involving cybercrime and related national security issues.
Alabama Power Foundation establishes interdisciplinary research institute in honor of Charles D. McCrary at Auburn University
The Alabama Power Foundation has made a significant philanthropic investment–the largest gift to support research in university history–to create the Charles D. McCrary Institute at Auburn University, as announced on Friday, November 7, 2014, by the Auburn University Board of Trustees. The gift is being made in honor of McCrary’s recent retirement as president and chief executive officer of Alabama Power Company. McCrary, a 1973 mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn, completed a 40-year career with the company in April. The new institute will focus on interdisciplinary research and advanced technologies to improve the security and operations of our nation’s infrastructure while valuing natural resources and conservation. The creation of the institute will enable Auburn to attract nationally recognized faculty who are at the forefront of emerging technological issues, while leveraging existing university resources and personnel to broaden the institute’s technological impact and to inform policy and practice.
“It is very important that we guard and protect the security of our energy infrastructure systems, because they represent resources that are essential to our well-being. To secure the operation of these systems we will have to provide for the development of significant expertise to not only protect the resources already in place, but to develop next-generation technologies to meet the challenge of tomorrow’s threats. Therefore, we see research as a primary mission of the institute – to address the pressing needs that our state, region and country face in strategic areas related to our energy infrastructure,” said Chris Roberts, dean of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University, adding, “The planning that we have set in motion here within the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering will be complemented by conservation enterprises within the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences.”
McCrary was introduced to Alabama Power through the work of his father, Douglas L. McCrary, who had a long and distinguished career at the company. Charles McCrary’s first job at Alabama Power was a part-time summer position in 1970, following his freshman year at Auburn. Following graduation, he joined the company full time and moved steadily into roles of increasing responsibility. He became president and CEO of Alabama Power in 2001.
During his tenure as chief executive, McCrary led the company through some of its most significant natural-disaster challenges, including Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, and the devastating tornadoes of 2011. He has been a leader in numerous civic, business, and educational initiatives, and a force for economic growth in the state, serving as chairman of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. He also was a key figure in the creation of the seven-county Birmingham Business Alliance. He is an avid outdoorsman and serves on the board of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
“We are incredibly appreciative to the Alabama Power Foundation for choosing to honor Charles McCrary in this significant and meaningful way. By supporting people and programmatic activity here at Auburn, a place Mr. McCrary clearly valued, they ensure that their tribute to him will have lasting impact for years to come. It is particularly appropriate and fitting that the newly formed Charles D. McCrary Institute will help to steward the abundant natural resources here in Alabama, which clearly mean a great deal to him as well. There is a direct linkage between these resources, quality of life, and economic development,” said Graeme Lockaby, interim dean of the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University.
“This investment will serve as a catalyst for other enterprises to invest in these programs that will have long-term implications for advanced research, policy formation, economic development, business expansion and job creation,” said John Mason, vice president for research and economic development at Auburn University.
The Alabama Power Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2014. Since its creation in 1989 with funds donated by shareholders, the foundation has provided Alabama communities, educational institutions and nonprofits more than $150 million in support through more than 20,000 grants and scholarships. Learn more about the Alabama Power Foundation at www.powerofgood.com.
Auburn University is one of a handful of institutions in the United States that has been designated by the National Security Agency as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations, Cyber Defense and Information Assurance. This unique three-fold designation allows the Auburn University Cyber Initiative to engage at the highest levels with national agencies and industries working in the cyber domain.
On October 24, 2014, Auburn University hosted a world affairs forum where some of the security challenges related to the cyber domain were discussed. Panelists included Admiral Michael S. Rogers, ’81, Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency and Senator Jeff Sessions, United States Senator from Alabama, Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The panel was moderated by Lt. General Ronald L. Burgess (Ret.), Senior Counsel for National Security Programs, Cyber Programs and Military Affairs at Auburn University.
Topics included the balance of diplomacy and military force in a global crisis; military restructuring and budget constraints; the roles of the National Security Agency and the U.S. Cyber Command; the ISIS threat; and foreign policy in the Middle East. Check out an excerpt here: