About 100 professors and educators from across the nation and overseas have been spending the past two weeks at Syracuse University learning how to simulate and then defend against cyberattacks. Electrical engineering and computer science professor Kevin Du created the workshop five years ago to offer a hands-on environment to deal with unexpected situations.
“Take the real world attack to try to understand, and then simplify, and then, reduce it to a few hours work. So the student can say, okay now I know exactly how it works. Even it’s simplified, the ideas are the same.”
Professor Du says most attacks happen because of mistakes in how software is written, or its code. He’s trying to teach educators how to make programs immune to attacks by avoiding fundamental errors.
“We create something similar to the software, or we create a variation of that, but with the same mistake. And then we ask students, can you attack this? So now they know these mistakes are so dangerous and risky, so I should be careful when I write the code. I shouldn’t do this, but I should do that instead. ”
Du calls that good security hygiene. He says it does come down to an arms race of sorts, where they’re always trying to stay one step ahead of the hackers who launch cyberattacks. At the same time, Du says there are times that no matter how well prepared we are, the hackers will win.