For two weeks, future computer science professionals learned the skills they will need to be on the frontlines of cyber-based attacks. Acknowledging this growing issue, the Computer Science Department at the University of the Virgin Islands, held a cybersecurity workshop, offered by guest lecturer Dr. Michel Kinsy of Boston University.
In this workshop, students learned the intrinsic features of computer systems and the techniques that attackers use to send out cyberattacks to businesses or major corporations to help prevent and defend against attacks. The workshop covered topics such as return programming and vulnerabilities, assembly code and how to imbed malware into the assembly, and binary analysis.
Real world examples such as, the Virgin Islands Police Department being faced with a ransomware cyberattack was brought into the discussion. Cyber attackers have blocked access to police files unless a ransom is paid. In addition, Dr. Kinsy discussed national cyberattacks, stating that, 10 to 15 years from now, “physical wars may be viewed as barbaric and 95 percent of attacks will be cyber related, where rather than physically attacking another country or entity, you cripple their cyber infrastructure.”
Being that cybersecurity is interdisciplinary, Dr. Kinsy stressed to students the importance of math courses such as number theory, discrete mathematics, and linear algebra, as well as how early exposure to cybersecurity “can help to highlight the core classes that form the fundamentals of cybersecurity.”
The overall goal of this workshop was to inspire students to see themselves playing an integral role in the Virgin Islands community in terms of making it more secure, as well as the rest of the world whether they choose to pursue careers in computer science, cybersecurity or branch fields of study.