New UM Cyber Innovation Lab will teach about security, ‘big data’

A new facility at the University of Montana will allow students to learn about cybersecurity and use “big data” to solve real-world problems, the Missoulian reports.

On Monday, UM announced plans to open a Cyber Innovation Laboratory in collaboration with state technology companies. The lab is an outgrowth of UM’s programs, research and technology, and it will be funded initially through donations from private tech companies.

“The Cyber Innovation Laboratory at UM will be a place where students are given real-world experience and learn the technical skills that employees require in this dynamic and growing industry,” UM president Royce Engstrom said in a news release.

The initial private investment in the lab is estimated to be $20,000, and UM aims to open its doors in a couple of months, according to Provost Perry Brown. He said UM has not determined the exact location on campus, but is homing in on sites of roughly 1,000 square feet.

In the lab, students will learn how to prevent hacking and track down hackers. They will study “vulnerability assessment, in which they are taught how to identify weaknesses in information systems.”

They also will learn “how hackers penetrate computer systems” to help companies protect themselves from breaches, and they will study digital forensic analysis and learn how to better trace hackers.

While the lab will be new at UM, “big data” already is in use there, Brown said. He said UM researcher Steve Running, for instance, already uses massive datasets to study climate change, and other researchers use it to conduct business and political analyses.

UM officials will design curricula to use with the lab, and they envision new certificates and degrees involving cybersecurity and big data.

According to the news release, the state’s entire congressional delegation voiced support for the project.

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