DSU helping to lead charge in cyber security

Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 10:57 PM CST
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Cyber threats are becoming harder to miss in many areas of the world. It is not uncommon for credit card information to be stolen or governing bodies to receive threats.

That is why Dakota State University staff are preparing students to help combat this growing threat.

The internet is difficult to handle because it works in both directions where people from anywhere in the world can hack into devices and find weaknesses. It happened to South Dakota’s state networks after 142 communication attempts occurred with North Korea between September 2017 and September 2019.

None of those intrusions were successful, but that is not always the end result. Hackers have been able to steal loads of information in the past and it has affected credit scores, personal identities, and even lead to blackmail.

“Just a couple of months ago, the Mayor of Minneapolis had his email account hacked and thankfully the bad guys did not do some of the terrible things you could do with any government official’s email account,” said TCE Strategy CEO Bryce Austin.

The threats prove there is an increasing need for cyber security experts, and Associate Professor Ashley Podhradsky is helping to lead that charge at Dakota State University.

“Cyber security is for everyone whether you’re an individual, or a small to medium sized business, a government entity, or a large international firm,” said Dr. Podhradsky.

Her students do case work for law enforcement and conduct research on current and emerging threats to come up with ways to investigate and preserve information to hold hackers accountable.

“We have a partnership with the Attorney General’s office—their consumer protections division—to understand the cyber-attacks that are occurring here in South Dakota, and to study that and then provide assistance to state government and state law enforcement.”

Both Podhradsky and Austin believe a lot of people have a false sense of security when it comes to the internet, and it could lead to problems that could be prevented by patching home networks, backing up data, and encrypting that data.

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