The University of Alabama is receiving $500,000 in grant funding and additional support from Google’s Cybersecurity Clinics Fund to help expand operations and drive forward research and teaching as it relates to cybersecurity.
The funding from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, is part of a $20 million collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics that Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced in June of this year.
In addition to grant funding, Google is offering the University volunteer mentorship from Google employees, Google Titan Security Keys and scholarships for the new Google Career Certificate in Cybersecurity.
Cyberattacks increased by 38% globally in 2022, and have cost the United States economy billions of dollars over the past five years. Cyberattacks happen all day, at every hour, and it only takes a small error on the part of a user or a technical breakdown to leave a computer system vulnerable to attack.
Despite the need for more cybersecurity professionals, there are currently more than 550,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S.
University Cybersecurity Clinics provide free security services in the same way law or medical schools offer free clinics in their communities. They also give UA students the opportunity to learn and improve their skills, while helping to protect critical infrastructure such as rural hospitals, schools and energy grids.
Over the grant period, the UA cyber clinic will train upwards of 200 students in the prevention of cyberattacks on public infrastructure and provide cybersecurity training to 20-plus critical public infrastructure and community organizations. This will be done concurrently with collaborative efforts with the other involved institutions.
Dr. Matthew Hudnall, deputy director of the Institute of Data and Analytics in the Culverhouse College of Business, was a founding member of the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics. His research focuses on the cybersecurity of governmental systems, including how to best integrate cyber-safe practices into an organization’s IT framework.
“I’ve seen how a cyberattack can bring an organization to its knees. There’s not only the monetary cost of cleaning up a cyberattack, but there’s also the loss of customer and partner trust to contend with as well,” said Hudnall, also an associate professor of management information systems. “We are beyond excited about Google’s partnership with The University of Alabama to help inform the next cohort of cybersecurity professionals.”
Dr. Greg Bott, the Marillyn Hewson Endowed Professor in Cyber Security, is the director of the UA cyber clinic with Hudnall assisting with the clinic’s development and sustainability. The clinic was the fourth of its kind and was one of the founding members of the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics.
The clinic has assisted non-profit organizations in Tuscaloosa in the past and is looking to expand its efforts to focus on rural hospitals, a key component of both critical infrastructure and community health in Alabama.
“These clinics have been designed to provide the next generation of professionals with the tools and resources they need to succeed in the ever-growing field of cybersecurity,” said Royal Hansen, Google’s vice president of Privacy, Safety, and Security Engineering. “We’re proud to lend a hand to help grow a strong security workforce responsible for strengthening and protecting our infrastructure for years to come.”