U-Idaho Helping to Build the Best Defense Against a “Cyber Pearl Harbor”

Monday, October 15 2012


By Donna Emert

POST FALLS/COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho -- American intelligence agencies have concluded that Iran is behind a recent barrage of network attacks on computers across the Saudi oil industry and US banks. In light of the attacks, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the US risks a “cyber Pearl Harbor.”

In the 21st Century, cyber security breaches are one of the greatest threats to government and business operations. To help frontline computer engineers who keep businesses safe against hacking, the University of Idaho will offer a Cyber Security Workshop from noon to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 25 at the University of Idaho Research Park, 721 Lochsa St., Post Falls. Cost to attend the program is $40. Lunch is included. 

Keynote speaker James Alves-Foss will present, “Computer Security in the Modern Era: An Idaho Perspective.” Alves-Foss is a University of Idaho professor of computer science and director of the Center for Secure and Dependable Systems www.csds.uidaho.edu/. Under his direction, U-Idaho research has resulted in security frameworks adopted by industry and the US Government. Alves-Foss continues to research new techniques to simplify design and verification of high assurance computing systems.

The Post Falls session serves as a workshop for engineers, providing participants four continuing education credits toward professional recertification.

The event concludes with a question and answer session featuring Alves-Foss; Inland Northwest Health Services’ (INHS) Sean Reis, senior director of Technical Services, and Chad Skidmore, director of Network Services; and Clay Storey, security manager for Avista Utilities.

“The University of Idaho has an important role to provide continuing education opportunities, especially in areas that are rapidly changing and of high importance for regional businesses and institutions,” said Charles Buck, University of Idaho associate vice president for northern Idaho. “Maintaining security of sensitive electronic information is an enormous responsibility for any entity with access to that information.

“Our program will enable sharing of best practices from experts in businesses that face information security issues every day. We will also present leading research from professor Alves-Foss, a University of Idaho expert in this field. We anticipate that the program will promote networking and information sharing between industries.”

While in North Idaho on Oct. 25, Alves-Foss also will meet with regional business leaders to discuss cyber security issues impacting business, the Idaho State Legislature’s recent Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission www.idahotechcouncil.org/igem/itc-igem (IGEM) initiative and the University of Idaho’s Center for Secure and Dependable Systems’ www.uidaho.edu/engr/csds (CSDS) support for the IGEM mission. 

That discussion will take place from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the University of Idaho Coeur d’Alene, 1031 N. Academic Way, Coeur d’Alene.

Alves-Foss holds a doctoral degree in computer science from University of California, Davis and teaches classes in computer networks, computer operating systems, theory of programming languages and computer security at the University of Idaho. Many of those courses also are available through the university’s engineering video outreach program on DVD and streaming video.

To reserve a place at the Cyber Security Workshop, go to www.uidaho.edu/rsvp.  
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho inspires students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Through the university’s $225 million Inspiring Futures capital campaign, private giving will enhance student learning, faculty research and innovation, and a spirit of enterprise. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.