Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Michael Haney
Assistant Professor, Computer Science
Nuclear power plants have existed in Idaho since the 1950s, when the small town of Arco became the first city in the world to house a nuclear reactor. More would be built and tested there than any other location in the world.
With research expertise from the University of Idaho and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), significant strides have been made in the state to develop the most advanced nuclear plant designs in the world, including small modular reactors that could offer a cost effective, safer and more secure option for nuclear energy.
“The social acceptance of nuclear power, waste management and people and policies, all these aspects make nuclear energy difficult to develop,” said U of I Idaho Falls Assistant Professor Michael Haney. “Add a digital aspect to somehow hook these things up to the Internet, it gets scarier.”
Haney works with undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Engineering to secure this newly digital industry, a critical part of expanding nuclear power. He also designs sophisticated “honeypots,” deceptive and intentionally vulnerable systems connected to the Internet, to lure attackers and analyze everything they do on the system.
Over the last 20 years, cybersecurity courses at U of I Idaho Falls, in partnership with INL, have grown extensively to include research-focused curriculum including cyber warfare, Internet surveillance and privacy, with courses on elections security and other special topics in the works.
By launching the first cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program in the Northwest, Haney said U of I is working to prepare the future workforce needed to help us stay secure.
“It's a cat-and-mouse game with the hackers out there,” he said, “We have to continually innovate. We need technical folks with ‘hacker’ skills to test systems, and we need analysts and people with writing and communication skills to translate the technical details to the business decision makers.”