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KU to host conference on cybersecurity for the ‘Internet of Things’

Friday, September 28, 2018

LAWRENCE — Security experts from across the Midwest region will gather on the KU Edwards Campus on Oct. 2 for a daylong conference on “Securing the Internet of Things.”
Keynote speakers will include Brigadier General Jennifer Buckner, U.S. Army Director of Cyber, Electronic Warfare, Information Operations, and Aaron Weissenfluh, the chief information security officer for Cboe Global Markets.

Additional discussions will include an industry panel speaking on the challenges of secure communications in diverse markets, as well as select KU faculty speaking on a variety of topics supported by the National Security Agency’s Science of Security Lablet.

Brian McClendon, a research professor for the KU Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and a former Google and Uber executive, will provide a closing keynote address on a digital future.
Perry Alexander, the AT&T Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Science and director of KU's Information and Telecommunication Technology Center, said the conference arrives at a critical time: The number of devices connected to the internet will increase twentyfold during the next three years.
“Chances are there will be some problems,” he said.
The “internet of things” (IoT) includes devices — many found in the home — that communicate with each other, providing web-based services but with little human intervention needed. Examples include home security devices, the national electric grid and, soon, self-driving cars.

And yes, they come with ample security challenges.
“There are several,” Alexander said. “One of the biggest ones is that many of these devices were not designed for security at all. It's not what people were thinking about when they were designed. Another part is, a lot of these devices — internet-connected lightbulbs for example — there's not much computing on the lightbulb and therefore there's not much computing there to implement security features you might find in a normal package.”

Alexander is leading a multidisciplinary team at KU — including computer scientists, electrical and computer engineers, psychologists, sociologists and philosophers — to tackle the fundamental science underpinning the security of the IoT. The team earlier this year received funding from the National Security Agency to shore up the cybersecurity of the IoT, developing the technology that could be integrated into consumer technology in the coming few years.
Researchers from KU participating in the new contract include ITTC and electrical engineering & computer science researchers, as well as experts from KU’s Departments of Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy. The work builds on Alexander’s decade-long experience working on projects with the National Security Agency, as well as a Scholarship for Service program with the National Science Foundation. Much of the work under the new effort will help train the next generation of cybersecurity experts and extend their knowledge into the private sector in the region and nationally.
The conference, Alexander said, “is one element of a larger cybersecurity thrust at KU."

The conference starts at 8:15 a.m. Oct. 2 in the BEST Conference Center at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. Learn more and register now to reserve your seat at the free event at hubs.ly/H0dwWyn0.

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