June 7, 2019
A cyberattack is happening right now. At every moment of every day, increasingly sophisticated hackers are trying to gain access to the networks of businesses and institutions around the world. To combat them, Syracuse University College of Engineering and Computer Science Professor Kevin Du says learning how to protect a network is not enough. To fully understand cyberattacks, you need to think like a hacker and know how to break in.
“As educators, what we are actually trying to teach students is – what are the problem areas? How the attacker can attack. We don’t just teach them on paper, we really say you have got to do it because otherwise, you don’t know how to defend,” said Du.
Since 2002, Du has trained thousands of educators from around the world on the latest cybersecurity techniques using his custom-designed labs.
“Students learn better from doing but to actually do that is very hard so this lab serves that purpose.”
In his workshops on the Syracuse University campus funded by the National Science Foundation, participants can safely attack and defend networks without the risk of doing any harm.
“What I provide is a contained environment. They launch an attack inside their own computer. So inside their computer, they have multiple computers actually,” said Du. “So they are attacking from one computer to another which sometimes we simulate some of the servers for example google.com but they actually on the inside of our computer.”
The goal is to boost the next generation of computer scientists and cybersecurity students – making sure they have are ready to adapt in the rapidly changing online security landscape.
Professor Dan Bennett from Edinboro University came to the Syracuse University campus to participate in Du’s workshop. He says his opportunity to work with a worldwide leader in cybersecurity education will benefit his students at home in Pennsylvania.
“I hope to take so stuff that I can take and put in the class pretty directly,” said Bennett. “One of the things that is going to be wonderful is that we teach them so techniques but then when they see these they will understand much better why we teach them software techniques.”
Educators say the material in Du’s workshop can benefit students across several tech disciplines since all need to be thinking about security.
“In your computer, there are a lot of doors, and many doors are not locked,” said Du.
Du just published the second edition of his computer security textbook that is currently be being used by more than 80 schools.