Chair’s Message | Governance and Research

Nov. 13, 2020 

Dear Cybersecurity and Privacy community, 

We are nearing the end of the semester. The familiar cadence of academic life at Georgia Tech does not yet have much impact on the new School of Cybersecurity and Privacy. We have no courses, offer no degrees, and enroll no students. Those milestones are still weeks in the future. Most of the work is going on behind the scenes for now, largely unaffected by schedules, final exams, fall breaks and holiday vacations. However, I can see the progress. Every week moves us further along the path to becoming the academic home for cybersecurity and privacy.

The Executive Committee is designing the way the school will operate. Academic institutions operate on a unique principle of shared governance, which allocates responsibility and authority to the members of an academic community. Faculty and staff, students, administrators and governing boards each play a distinct role in that process. Without an effective and inclusive governing structure nothing much would happen. Expect to see the first committees planning for a new hiring season and creating new courses and curricula. Offices for student affairs will be announced shortly after that. The leadership of the school will have begun to take shape.

We convened the school’s first Industry Advisory Board meeting this week, and it did not take board members long to come to grips with the question of how SCP will differentiate itself from the dozens of other cybersecurity initiatives around the country. The fact that we turned to industry to help us with this problem speaks loudly about the core values we want for the school. “What distinguishes cybersecurity at Georgia Tech?” is the central question. Technical rigor was one area of immediate agreement. Another was the integration of practical experience in all academic programs. Leveraging the Institute’s existing strengths was a third area around which there was consensus. These will be the pillars on which the school is built. I would be interested in your thoughts about how the new school will define itself. This is the beginning of a lengthy conversation, and I will be sharing with you in the coming weeks about how you can participate.

We’re not exactly starting from scratch. I pointed out in an earlier message that we were “born” with the highest recognition from our peers.  U.S. News & World Report ranked us as the number one university for undergraduate education in cybersecurity. And in case anyone thinks that recognition is a fluke, consider this: Georgia Tech researchers in cybersecurity and privacy had one of their biggest weeks of the year. Twenty GT authors published seven papers (see interactive graphic) at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS), the flagship annual conference of the Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) for the ACM.

Georgia Tech led all institutions in number of accepted papers. Not only that, Professor of Computer Science and IISP Executive Director Wenke Lee was a keynote speaker and the paper “PinDr0p: Using Single-Ended Audio Features to Determine Call Provenance” from ACM CCS 2010 was selected for the Test of Time Award of ACM CCS 2020. Also, ECE Assistant Professor Frank Li was a runner up for the SIGSAC dissertation award.

My congratulations to all involved. This work reaffirms the high level of cybersecurity and privacy work taking place across the institute and is a guidepost for future efforts.

On the events front, be sure to put today’s cybersecurity lecture at noon on your shortlist if you’re in search of a good talk. We’re joined by Jakub Szefer, associate professor from Yale University discussing “Securing FPGA-Accelerated Cloud Infrastructures.”

Next week, I’ll be hosting the John P. Imlay Jr. Series on Entrepreneurship Fireside Chat. I’m excited to sit down with Kabir Barday, CS 09 and founder and CEO of OneTrust. He’s one of Georgia Tech’s inaugural 40 Under 40 accomplished alumni and has an interesting story to tell. Join us Nov. 19, 7 p.m. EDT.

The chair’s open office hours continue today and every Friday at 1 p.m. EDT. Stop on by and ask anything on your mind or just drop in to say hello.


Richard DeMillo
Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing
Chair, School of Cybersecurity and Privacy  

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