Sara Mahoney, UConn Foundation
This article originally appeared in UConn Today
Timed to Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the University of Connecticut’s (UConn) School of Engineering announced the launch of Synchrony Financial’s Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity. The center will promote cutting-edge research in a field that industry officials expect to grow from $122 billion worldwide in 2016 to $202 billion by 2021.
With the investment of $2.2 million over the next five years, Synchrony Financial and UConn aim to counter the growing threats of foreign and domestic cybercrime by developing information security talent and leading research to help companies and consumers stay ahead of these threats.
“We are thrilled to establish a world-class program in one of the fastest growing fields in technology with Synchrony Financial,” said Kazem Kazerounian, dean of the School of Engineering. “The program builds on the success of the Engineering School, which celebrates its centennial this year, and allows us to provide robust opportunities for our students looking to pursue a career in cybersecurity.”
Through the partnership, Synchrony Financial will provide an endowment for a Synchrony Financial Chair in Cybersecurity to lead cybersecurity education at UConn and help develop a strong pipeline of information security talent.
In addition to research, Synchrony Financial committed funding toward a Cybersecurity Fellows Program and a scholarship program that will provide stipends to attract to UConn graduate students interested in this subject, where they will study and conduct independent cybersecurity research.
The partnership is close to home for Stamford-based Synchrony Financial, and will help prepare local Connecticut talent to help fill the nearly 210,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S.
“We are passionate about cultivating top technology talent in Connecticut, people who will soon be on the nation’s front lines of defense against cybercrime,” said Carol Juel, executive vice president and chief information officer at Synchrony Financial. “Our partnership with UConn is an important step towards building the research and resources needed to fuel hiring in this growing area of technology.”
The rapid evolution of technology and proliferation of the Internet has led to an increased need for cybersecurity defense mechanisms to protect private data. In 2015, more than 400 million personal information records were lost or stolen worldwide, an increase of 23 percent from the previous year, according to the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report. Synchrony Financial believes that impactful research and dedicated resources, like the center, are imperative in reducing vulnerability to cyberattacks.
“The frequency, speed, and effectiveness of sophisticated cyber attacks is continuing to increase,” said Daniel Conroy, chief information security officer at Synchrony Financial. “New technologies enable us to expand our capabilities, but it’s the people behind the scenes who take the right and timely action to protect the infrastructure. The shortage of cybersecurity experts can only be addressed by investing in cybersecurity research and innovation, and developing future cyber champions.”