University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


Cybersecurity foundation to fund an endowed faculty position in CBCS

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As part of a $1.5 million investment to create a cyber threat intelligence laboratory at the University of South Florida (USF), the Rapid7 Cybersecurity Foundation will fund an endowed faculty position within the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS). The position will be part of the interdisciplinary leadership team of the lab and is one of four endowed faculty positions created in the following USF colleges: CBCS, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, and Muma College of Business.

The cooperative nature of the Rapid7 Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab will lead to opportunities for interdisciplinary research between the behavioral sciences and STEM fields. The Department of Criminology, for example, will provide expertise in understanding offender motivation, victimology, and organizations’ response to crime and will use sophisticated and theory-based analysis to investigate how humans and technology interact to create online risks and possible solutions to cybercrime.

“As our society becomes more integrated with technology and networked interactions, the prospect of online victimization has expanded,” says George Burruss, PhD, USF Department of Criminology professor and associate chair. “Most aspects of our lives have some cyber component — shopping, banking, employment, education, dating, and entertainment. In this environment, the opportunities for easy, scalable, and covert illicit profit encourage offenders. Our cybersecurity infrastructure must meet the rising demand for security measures and develop innovative solutions.”

In this digital era, expertise in cybercrime and digital forensics are critically important, and Burruss says that the lab will offer an unprecedented opportunity for students to see the variety of scientific and technical skills needed to become leaders in cybersecurity.

“Often in cybersecurity, we develop technical fixes or proactive policies yet need to appreciate how human users relate to these tools,” he adds. “Teaching a behavioral science approach to cybersecurity matters will allow students majoring in technical disciplines to recognize how criminal motivations, opportunity incentives, and victim responses can inform cybersecurity best practices. Correspondingly, students in the behavioral sciences will appreciate how an understanding of computer science, engineering, business, and information systems can inform their understanding of how cybercrime is done.”

This will be the first time CBCS’ Department of Criminology will be home to an endowed professor, an investment in faculty and student success.

“It is especially exciting because we are on the cutting edge of cyber-criminology,” said USF Department of Criminology Chair John Cochran, PhD. “Of the few criminology/criminal justice programs around the world that have faculty with expertise in cybercrime, most have only one cyber-criminologist, and almost no programs have more than two. At USF, the Department of Criminology has six faculty members with this expertise, and our faculty’s expertise goes beyond cyber-criminology to include digital forensics – an area of focus in which almost no other criminology/criminal justice programs have expertise.”

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About College of Behavioral & Community Sciences News

The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.