UofM Center for Information Assurance Receives $1M as Part of Cybersecurity Research Award from FEMA, DHS

November 2, 2023 — As a core member of the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium, the University of Memphis Center for Information Assurance has received $1 million as part of a larger grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to conduct research on cybersecurity issues with a goal of developing workforce education resources for various industry sectors.

The National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium (NCPC), which received the $8 million grant, is the premier cybersecurity consortium in the nation. Since 2004, in partnership with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, the individual members of the consortium have developed and delivered DHS/FEMA certified training courses to various states, counties, local jurisdictions and critical infrastructure components nationwide addressing cybersecurity and cyber terrorism concerns.

In addition to the University of Memphis Center for Information Assurance, other university partners in the consortium include the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at The University of Texas at San Antonio; The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center; Norwich University in Vermont; and the University of Arkansas Criminal Justice Institute.

As part of this grant, the University of Memphis Center for Information Assurance received $1 million grant for three years to conduct a project titled “Cybersecurity Issues with Operational Technology and Distributed Energy Resources.”

Dr. Mohd Hasan Ali, associate professor in electrical and computer engineering and associate director of the center, will serve as the principal investigator. Dr. Dipankar Dasgupta, center director and Hill professor in cybersecurity, will serve as the project’s co-principal investigator. 

The overall goal of the project is to design and develop cybersecurity-related education and training for operation technology and distributed energy resources to address technical needs of future workforce and industry professionals in various sectors. Additionally, this project aims to develop an outreach program that will demonstrate in-person hands-on exercises and experiments. The hands-on activities will cover topics from security in operation technology and distributed energy resources, which will also be introduced in related university classes for pilot testing. This is important for state and local professionals and employees in specific sectors to transition theory to practice dealing with cybersecurity challenges.

“This project will help participants understand different adversarial attacks on cyber-enabled Operational Technologies and distributed energy resources and various mitigation tools and techniques. Participants will be able to understand the need to focus on safety and reliability in addition to confidentiality and accessibility,” said Hasan Ali. “Moreover, they will learn the best security monitoring and protection for industrial internet-of-things and OT interfaces and will be able to put theory into practice and apply their knowledge into real-world settings and perform tasks that would be relevant to future jobs.”

For more information on this research, contact Dr. Hasan Ali at mhali@memphis.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT Jennifer Godwinjcgodwin@memphis.edu901.678.4822

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