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SC Cyber aims to unite public, private sectors to combat Internet fraud

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University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides says the SC Cyber initiative will make South Carolina a “go-to state in cybersecurity.” (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides says the SC Cyber initiative will make South Carolina a “go-to state in cybersecurity.” (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)

By James T. Hammond
Published Feb. 24, 2016

The University of South Carolina will lead a statewide public-private consortium called SC Cyber that will seek to unite all interested parties in defeating Internet fraud and theft.

SC Cyber will be housed at 1300 Gervais St., in space controlled by IT-Ology, and will be a nonprofit organization integrated into the university, with an executive director who has not yet been selected.

The new consortium will be kick-started with a $1.5 million investment by the S.C. Department of Commerce. The university and its partners will seek an additional $2 million from the General Assembly to fund ongoing operations, said Lester Eisner of USC’s Office of Economic Engagement.

Gov. Nikki Haley attended the announcement of the new initiative, noting that the 2012 theft of taxpayers’ data from the state Department of Revenue had been a wake-up call for her about the risks associated with the dependence of government and private business on the Internet.

“It told me you never really know” the risks of government and private information on the Internet, Haley said. “They told me there are two kinds of organizations: those that have been hacked and those that are going to be hacked.

“The hackers never stop trying,” the governor added.

Haley said SC Cyber will attempt to bring all the interested groups together to ensure they remain secure.

“I can’t promise we won’t be hacked again,” Haley said. “I can tell you it won’t be due to a lack of trying to prevent it.”

USC President Harris Pastides said SC Cyber would be a “quantum step forward” in efforts to make internet participation more secure for everyone.

“SC Cyber will provide something we don’t do well: to link technology with policy and the law,” Pastides said. He said the university is in the process of expanding its curriculum to include more courses in cybersecurity.

“We aim to make South Carolina a go-to state in cybersecurity,” Pastides said.

The consortium will include two of the private sector’s largest companies — IBM and Boeing — as partners. IBM already is setting up shop on the USC campus for its planned involvement in several information technology projects; and Boeing’s IT division has been a longtime research partner.

Other partners include: SCANA Corp.; Clemson University; the College of Charleston; SAIC; Savannah River National Laboratory; the S.C. Emergency Management Division; the S.C. National Guard; Scientific Research Corp.; Soteria; SPAWAR; The Citadel; Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; The Ulysses Group; and the state’s two-year technical colleges.

A briefing on the consortium notes that “The key outcome in the first year of operation for SC Cyber will be a measurable contribution to the cybersecurity workforce in South Carolina. This will primarily be accomplished by sponsoring and managing programs to expand the base of qualified, credentialed talent available to employers statewide.”

SC Cyber aims to hold at least two Certified Information Systems Security Professional training courses and contribute at least 50 new CISSP holders in the state in the first year, the briefing states.

The consortium also plans to host at least two executive-level educational programs to address the goals of educating state government and business leaders on current best practices and challenges.

USC provided background data that indicates there are an estimated 2,300 open cybersecurity positions and the field has grown more than 130% since 2010. SC Cyber aims to prepare students for high-paying cybersecurity jobs in South Carolina, as well as provide ongoing training and workforce development for cybersecurity experts already in the field.

Initial course offerings will begin this summer, USC said in its announcement.

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