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Gift funds Center for Cyber Security

As societies worldwide enthusiastically embrace the amenities afforded by increasingly electronic lifestyles, the reality of increased cyber security risk must be acknowledged-and challenged.

“The cyber security problem is going to be out there forever,” said Wenjun “Kevin” Zeng, an associate professor in Mizzou Engineering’s Computer Science Department and director of the college’s new Center for Cyber Security Research, or CCSR. “With new technologies come new problems.”

Cybercriminals are becoming more cunning and computer viruses more sophisticated. Experts say phishing-electronic financial fraud-and advanced identity theft are on the rise, as are insider cyber attacks.

Zeng and a group of like-minded MU professors from information science, journalism, health informatics and engineering have banded together under the umbrella of CCSR to foster interdisciplinary cyber research and to raise the profile of the work that is being done on the MU campus. The group’s long-term goal is to develop a nationally recognized program to both provide research and learning opportunities in the burgeoning cyber security field and to attract funding for research in the broad areas of homeland security, law enforcement and general e-commerce.

A generous 13-year, $850,000 pledge from alumnus Greg Gilliom, BS EE ‘75, established the Gilliom Cyber Security Fund in 2006. It will eventually provide for an endowed professorship, and in the meantime the monies support a seminar series, graduate fellowships, and undergraduate scholarships.

A January CCSR-sponsored seminar on biometric recognition-based security featured professor Anil K. Jain of Michigan State University. Jain, a highly published expert in the fields of pattern recognition, computer vision and biometric authentication, drew a large and enthusiastic crowd of students and faculty.
“All research needs funding and this gift allows us to support the work of five or six students,” said Zeng, “and it allows us to provide prominent speakers like Jain.”

Noting his family’s strong connection to MU, he said his gift just made sense.

“For me and others in this field, computer science is not a job,” said Gilliom. “It’s never been a job. We do it because we want to, not because we have to. Computer security, networking, biomedical informatics … you just get fascinated with it.”

And so the fascination continues.



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