Beyond the Classroom: The CyberArch program

March 23, 2018 | Students

By Varad Dabke

Varad Dabke

Beyond the Classroom: The CyberArch program

Recently, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government joined a pilot cybersecurity program called CyberArch to help Georgia communities address online security concerns. CyberArch is a UGA initiative into both researching local security concerns and evaluating the best way it can implement solutions.

Spalding and Hart Counties were selected as pilot communities because they are Archway Partnership communities. The Archway Partnership, one of eight UGA Public Service and Outreach units, connects Georgia communities with UGA resources to address critical locally-identified needs and opportunities.

In order to develop a diverse skill set in understanding cybersecurity, Archway is partnered with the Institute of Government, the Small Business Development Center and the Georgia Informatics Institutes, all UGA entities. While the role that CyberArch will play in addressing cybersecurity concerns is not yet finalized, identifying community need is a starting point for deciding next steps in the program’s future. The groups tasked with deciding what CyberArch can do are currently seeking community input in deciding what the program should do.     

Creating a comprehensive cybersecurity initiative is best developed with input from the communities themselves, including conversations with community leaders, local business owners and consumers. That’s why a team from the university conducted initial listening sessions in Spalding County earlier this year. In a town-hall format, community members representing public and private businesses voiced concerns and highlighted issues for a panel of UGA faculty and community leaders. For example, one concern is the need to help businesses that compete for different federal contracts meet security regulations. Another proposal was to provide training focused on creating stronger passwords for the Griffin-Spalding County School System. 

For the university, the listening sessions help faculty examine which services they can offer in return. The Institute of Government could conduct security audits to determine which cybersecurity practices are currently lacking. The Small Business Development Center could work with local businesses to offer specialized expertise from its ongoing CyberStrength program. Because CyberStrength has already helped small businesses meet federal privacy regulations, it is a perfect pairing with the concerns highlighted in the listening sessions. Finally, professors at the Georgia Informatics Institutes in the College of Engineering are contributing by adapting their academic research interests to help decide which community-identified concerns could be prioritized. This research is not only complementary to the Informatics Institutes’ mission of researching cybersecurity, but it can be used by PSO units and other experts in the CyberArch Program.

By the way it is structured, CyberArch should be mutually beneficial for both UGA and Georgia communities, allowing the university to expand its research and service focus, while preparing communities for potential risk.

As the CyberArch Program eventually transitions from planning to implementation, it could serve as a model for other communities in Georgia.

Varad Dabke is a third-year English and international affairs major from Columbus. He is the public and alumni relations chair for the UGA Undergraduate Mock Trial program and serves as an expert-witness in simulated trial competitions. Varad also was selected for a faculty-sponsored research assistantship with the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities. After graduation, Varad hopes to pursue a career in the legal field.