Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, Ph.D. | Conversations with Jeff Weeks | WSRE
This, original, wsre presentation. Is. Made possible by, viewers like, you thank, you. We. Dive into the world of cybersecurity, with, dr. Eman el-sheikh, on this edition of conversations. As. The. World becomes more dependent. On computer, systems and advanced technologies, the need to protect sensitive information becomes. Paramount, dr.. Eman el-sheikh, is an expert, in the field of cyber security as well, as artificial intelligence. And machine learning. Dr., el-sheikh is director, of the Center for cyber security and a professor of computer science at, the University, of West Florida, she is also a visiting, research scientist, with the Institute, for human and machine cognition we're, glad to have dr. Eman el-sheikh, on this edition of conversations thank, you for joining us thank you for having me on Jeff let's give a big broad, question. When we say cyber, security, what are we really talking about we, are talking about, protecting. Our, resources. Whether that's our computers, our devices our, data our information. Our networks, we're talking about being able to protect, and defend them against, attacks. Against, threats from. Internal. Sources as well as external, sources and. Obviously, this is becoming more and more important, as we become more and more dependent, upon all this technology. And. Of course a lot of spin in the news you know particularly surrounding the election, and Russian hacking, and all this sort of stuff what do you make of all of that I think certainly it's you know been, in the news because it's so important it affects everything from our personal. Daily lives our health information our financial, information. Our credit cards all the way to through. Through our assets. Our national assets our critical infrastructure such as our elections, such as our, national. Security so. I think it's it's important, and that's a sign that as a community we need to continue to be more involved be, more aware individually. In terms, of how cyber security relates to us how we can be secure starting. With our own mobile. Devices, as, well, as kind of how as a community, we can come together to continue to stay. Ahead of the game when. You talk about personally. Being more secure, with your mobile devices what are things that people should be thinking about certainly. Think about a lot of the things that we. May not realize, all, the default for example settings think about your phone a lot. Of now, you used, to have, locations, where they, message, each other they are able to connect and locate, each other well, if you, think about if you leave your location, on that's, an opportunity for somebody to be aware of where. You're at right now whether that's somebody who is. Looking. At where children, are hanging, out or whether that's for example you're going on vacation and, you're posting pictures of somewhere.
Else Where now you're letting somebody know that you're away from your home and. So a lot of times it's it's, just good just like we check our. Safety. At home on a regular basis. Our fire alarms, are things like that it's probably good to check your computers, and your devices, on a regular. Basis in terms of what are you doing to protect your. Privacy and your security and, just being aware of those things, all. The various, social media platforms, made us more vulnerable. They've. Certainly opened, up a, lot, more opportunities, to be vulnerable we, look at for example the explosion, in the internet of things everything's. Connected there's so many devices right now from your TVs, and your refrigerators. To even. Toothbrushes. That are connected, or have the ability to be connected, to the Internet and a, lot of those that that's a gateway to the. Network so whether that's you, leave your device, connected, and now they can access your network. Through. That connection more, importantly, now a an, attacker could access the rest of the Internet if that device is now connected on the Internet it then serves as a very unsecure. Gateway. Into, the rest of the Internet and a lot of times when. We've seen big, outages. Or big attacks. In the past it's been through devices like, that or situations, like that. Who. Are these people, better. That. Are hacking into all of this and I mean it's they've, obviously hacked, in the government stuff they've hacked into you know major corporations. Who, are they and where are they I think there's a variety of cases so certainly there's the. People. Who are just doing it for fun so, the, the the people who are trying to see well what can I get into what what can I pet. It is a demonstration and all the way through to, external. Agents. That are trying, to. Attack the things that we have as a nation in terms of leadership, in terms of security and. It's everything in between and as I mentioned you could be the, safest, in, terms of your own network. But it could be somebody internally, who accidentally, clicked. On a link. That. They thought was valid and that that then caused. The vulnerability, and then allowed. People into your network and allowed them to access other things in the internet as a result. Melin. The United States they we hear about people being outside of the United States doing or just all over the world I think all over it's certainly all over and there's. Attacks, and threats that go on on a regular basis. So certainly this is something that's ongoing sometimes. We don't find out about the attack, or the breach that's happened until later but. There's people you know the who are kind, of actively, working on trying to get in you look at foreign agencies. That are trying to kind of get in and kind of get. Into sensitive, information or data all the. Way you, know including, kind of people who are locally, who are just kind of curious about what they could sell them there's also, you. Know market, through the dark web in terms of information that you, can get for example personal, information, we look at the recent, Equifax. Breach that now that's going to affect so many people in. The sense that that's very, critical information, and, being able to access that along. With other things is going, to make it so much more. Important, for companies overall organizations. To think, about security. Starting, with kind of your own individual, personnel. Is. Is my understanding that sometimes these, characters, will actually kind of get into the system and just kind of lay low for a while so, it's not like they'll get in on Wednesday and immediately go to work and start doing things but maybe just sit back for months, and then start.
Doing Their nefarious, activity, oh absolutely I, think certainly. You look at attacks, sometimes when we identify, the breaches, you'll see that the first kind of incidents, are the first gateway, in happened, months, or years, before, that and it's part of that is kind of part of the approach. The hackers or the attackers approach in terms, of getting in figuring. Out just like with your own house right or people who monitor you look at people who'll monitor the neighborhood and be able to come in and say, well I'm going to come in at a time why I know that house is not very visible, its I know that they're, not usually home there's nobody there around that time it's the same on the internet right so they're gonna monitor see what's the easiest way in where, is the access point that I can get to does that critical information and, what, can it once I get in can I figure out in terms of being able to get the, information that they want and get out without being detected. How. Do you detect them I mean other, than the fact that you know they moved, money out of your bank account or something like that I mean is there any way to detect, that hey maybe somebody's, in here messing around well, I mean there's something not certainly part of the programs that we teach is cyber, defense so you know how do you kind of protect, your networks and your computers, and your. Information, against. Whether, that's securing, your own computer, system and your access. To the network whether, that's being, able to make sure that you've got backups. For your data so that for example ransomware. Has been such a big issue lately. So the, more that you can have, preventive, measures in place in terms, of making, sure that you have backup data that you have multi. Steps, along the way to get to your secure data that if. You have people, who need to access that critical information that you're, training, them on the procedures, that are necessary to keep other, people or external, agents, out from, the data so there's not only a variety of things and I think it's all part of the kind of global.
Idea Of becoming digital. Citizens, right, so you look at like right now where we are is very different from where we were as a community, or society 10 years ago and is very different from where we'll be in another, 10 years and I think that, part of kind of becoming, digital citizens. And evolving into that will, be kind of helping. More in terms of building that culture of being, secure, right, we need just like we learn about safety, and health. Prevention as a, as a community, as a global community we need to individually, and collectively together, be thinking about how we can become secure. Citizens. And. How do we do that it. Starts, well I'm an educator so it starts with education right. So certainly even, from the lowest level. Elementary. School children now have access to. Computers. To lap. Tops to tablets, so, it starts with them about just safe, practices. Digital Heights cyber hygiene is, a. Very important, topic what, what is important, to do if you're, going to be using a computer, how do you spot something that may be unsafe, so, I think it starts at that early, age where, just, like we teach our kids don't talk to strangers. Things. Like that we need to teach them about cyber. Hygiene and cyber safety how. To read, how to protect themselves when they're online or, using. A computer or. Device I'm. Curious about something so, hypothetically. Speaking let's say someone, infiltrates. Into. Something. A bank. Account or some, private. Information okay, and so they've gotten in and then I guess. They leave, or whatever with the idea maybe I'll come back later or something like that in the meantime I change my password, does that stop, them or have, they still zero, work around I think. It really depends, in terms of so. The interest could, could be either way it depends on how, much access they've gained already sometimes, an an, attacker really just wants that initial, entryway and what, we've seen for example with latest breaches. With recent breaches is that they'll, get in through something, that's unsecure, such. As a, television. That's connected, to the internet a smart TV and, they're not necessarily going after that person's, information they're. Just looking at a portal. Into, the rest of the Internet or the, rest of the kind of security, protocols that they can bypass in order to get to the more sensitive information so, it really depends. And, I think you know the first line. Of kind of, prevention. Is making, sure that we're aware of, what. Are the common things to be looking for for example if you get an email, what do you do to kind of be vigilant, about knowing. What to click on knowing what not to click on knowing how, can I test how can I check if this is a legitimate, valid. Email versus, a scam or. Something that's trying to get personal formation so I think that's the first the, first line of defense but I think certainly having. People that across, the organizations, whether it's government whether it's private. Companies healthcare, finance, banks. Big organizations, having people who are. Trained and have expertise, and ready. To always. Be on the lookout for what, looks like a vulnerability, what, looks like a attack. What looks like and so that's where, human. Expertise, is important but that's also where tools. Such as AI and, machine learning come, in because, they can process data method. We can use AI and machine learning to kind of look at data a lot, more effectively. Than a human expert can, explain. More about what, AI. Is and. How it works and mission learning what what, are you talking about so. This, is something that I've been interested in for many. Years in fact that's kind of been my passion since I was an undergraduate, is, as. An undergraduate I remember when you're needing. An elective I needed an elective to take my junior year and I saw this course listed. Artificial, intelligence, and I said that sounds interesting and the time seemed reasonable, so I said ok I'll sign up for that class and it really just was. Fascinating. So I think there and then is when I decided I wanted to continue. To study AI and, get a PhD in AI and, and help inspire, other students, to get involved as, well it's. Really if you think about it it's a set of tools and methods that we use to solve, problems. Solve, complex, problems in. Ways.
That We can bring intelligence. Into. The equation, both, combining, human intelligence and cognitive methods. As well as kind of other. Strategies, and algorithms, so you look at AI, for example, it's the study of how do we develop systems, that can act intelligently. And that, could take the form of mimicking, how, human, experts behave in the field that could also take the form of just trying, to find the best solution, for a problem using. A variety of methods. You, look at machine learning it really, helps, certainly we've seen so much about machine learning in the news recently and more, specifically, deep learning we've, been able to accomplish so, much that. Humans can't do using machine learning because it's about being, able to process large amounts of data and being. Able to look for to. Reason through that and analyze through, that to, look for patterns to look for solutions, to, look for things. That seem, to be out of nature and so, it's perfect, it's a perfect fit as a strategy, for cybersecurity. Because, you look at what we're seeing in cybersecurity is. Millions. And billions of data going through the, internet, on a regular. Basis, and what you're trying to do is detect what looks like an abnormality. Right you're trying to find something, that looks a little malicious, a little suspicious, how. Can we, identify. That and if so how can we react to it quickly so. Certainly a combination. Of human. Expertise, as well as some machine learning is going, to help tremendously in. The sense that then we can actually look. For patterns, that we can kind of base on we've, seen this network traffic before we've seen something that looks like this and it wasn't good well, we can remember that and then as we see it next time be ready to adapt. To it that's what machine learning helps, facilitate, but. It also helps, build, that knowledge base along, the way so just like we learn along the way and we incorporate, that into our reasoning, a machine. Learning system can, continue, to build learning. And method knowledge, along the way so. That it increases its, knowledge of what's going on and responds. More appropriately, with time know, is this going to be especially. Beneficial. Not. Just in cybersecurity but also like, in medicine, as I understand, it as far as some. Of the things I've read is it's going to increase our opportunities to be able to cure certain diseases, and stuff because we'll, be able to process so much more information it's not correct oh absolutely we're already seeing AI machine, learning benefit, healthcare, benefit, medicine, in fact one of the early. Success. Stories for AI, was an expert system that helped identify, diseases and they built, it using knowledge, for that they got from expert. Physicians, and it was able to detect, diseases, and kind of identify. Appropriate. Remedy. Better, than expert physicians, and so not only that showed the potential of what we could do it, also opened up to the idea of kind of using. AI machine learning as decision. Support tools right so to be able to aid experts. Wherever. They are in identifying, recommendations. And strategy. So certainly in healthcare, it's, made a huge difference in finance. It's made a huge difference if you look at systems that for. Example predict. Where the stock market, or economic, growth is going to go and certainly. At the University, of West Florida we've, done a lot to incorporate. Experiential. Learning experiences. Into. Our program so that students in addition, to the, curricula, and the courses, that they gain they get to participate in, research projects. As, well as, capstone. Experiences, and internships that will give them experience. In real-world. Problem solving in cybersecurity. In AI in, machine learning and other topics, tell. Me about some of the other things that are going on at the University so you actually have the Center, for cyber, security at the University of West Florida what is it what does it do what do you want to accomplish so. The Center for cyber security is. The hub for, cyber, security activities. Both, on, campus, connecting. With the academic, departments, and other units with, the goal of advancing cyber, security, as well, as connecting, with our community to, figure. Out what is needed to continue to help support, our community to, grow cyber security in the area so, we really serve as the hub to kind of connect, the pieces together continue. To lead the vision, for advancing, cyber security and we've been working with the, units on campus as well as our partners, in government and, industry and, military. Assets, that we have here in town to build the cyber coast so we're on a mission to really highlight. The huge potential, and, assets. That Northwest. Florida has and to be able to. Bring. All that together and really, kind of grow.
Our Community, even stronger, interesting. The cyber coast. So. That, would be something that would likely create a lot of economic. Activity I, would assume or, have the potential to right if we became sort of a. Place. That people, wanted. To come to as far as working, in that field absolutely, I think we're very well on our, way as a region, and as a community, so certainly as the University for, starters our the. University, of West Florida is designated. By the National, Security Agency. And the Department of Homeland Security as a national. Center of academic excellence in, cyber, security education and, that's a huge honor that's a less than 5%. Of institutions, across the country, that designation. So it's really the gold standard in terms of the quality of your program, the quality, of the things that you offer, and. More. Importantly recently, the, NSA and DHS, also, named the University of West Florida as the cybersecurity. Regional, resource center for the southeast us so. That's a huge honor as well as a huge responsibility. In the, sense that not only now do we want to maintain the quality and innovative programs that we have in cybersecurity we, want to help the rest of the Southeast region, be, able to develop quality cybersecurity, programs, and support their community, in the, same way that we do so, it's. A great I think platform for, Northwest Florida and the things that were involved and in the community, be able to showcase, the. Great things that are already happening here you look at the growth of private. Sector you look at the growth in terms of our, military. Presence here and their cybersecurity efforts, continuing. To grow we, want to continue to support that already, we. See looking, at national data that in. Our region we have over 1300. Unfilled. Cybersecurity, jobs, right here in Northwest, Florida high, paying. High demand. Jobs and. So we are on a mission to work with community, partners to fill those jobs. And we're also, outpacing. The national, average, in cybersecurity. Job, growth right, here at the Panhandle, is outpacing, the, national average so not only are we in a great place we're poised to be in an even better place and what, we want to do is continue to work with the community, to make. That, happen and to really help Northwest, Florida become a leader, in cybersecurity, when. You talk about those 1,300. Jobs what, type of jobs are those I mean what would somebody be doing is that a programmer, or it. Could be the good thing about cybersecurity, is it's very multidisciplinary, so. Certainly a lot of those jobs are in kind. Of cyber. Programming. And IT backgrounds. Or those types of skills so it could be jobs as an information, security analyst, where, they're looking at kind of how, to solve, problems how to kind of detect. And defend against. Attacks it could be computer. And network, security engineers, the, people who are responsible for securing, the network, for securing, the system, to. Protect against, attacks, it, could be intelligence, analysts, as well who are looking at kind, of being able to identify what, could possibly, be a threat and how do we know and how could we prevent that as. Well so there's a variety of jobs many, of them are technical. In nature IT, programming. Computer. Science have, you related, but some are also in, policy. So we see a huge growth in need in terms of cyber, law cyber, policy. As. Well as communications. And other factors, so the, approach that we've taken at, UWF, is really. Unique. In the sense that we. Focus on multidisciplinary. Aspects, of cybersecurity so given that not. Just locally, 1,300. Jobs nationally, we're, looking at over, 300,000. Unfilled cybersecurity, jobs right. Now and, estimates. Show that by the year 2019. Will, have a global deficit, of over 3 million, cybersecurity. Professionals and, so, certainly what we've realized is we, can't take a one-size-fits-all. Approach, we, can't tell everybody we, have one program and if you like to code this is for you we, want to make sure we have that option available and, certainly. Our cybersecurity, program, is part of our designation. By NSA and DHS as a National Center of academic excellence so students who complete that program their. Transcripts. And certificates, will actually say this is an NSA, DHS. Designated. Program, so that's kind, of like the gold standard for employers, but they know they're getting quality, in. The graduates, but in addition to that we recognize, that students, have a variety, of interests so they may be interested in management, so, we have options in.
Information. Security management through. The College of Business they, may be interested in in government. So we have options and security and diplomacy. Through. The Department of Government and, just, various other options. As well related to cyber security so that the goal is we, can tell students that no matter what you're interested in there's, a way for you to get some cybersecurity knowledge, and skills and there's, a great job waiting for you when. You finish, that's really the approach, that we want in the message that we want to get across the students. Lots. Of opportunity, the bottom line but tell. Me about your relationship with IHMC, the Institute, for human and machine cognition which, is doing a lot of wonderful things in the area, yeah MC. Has been a great collaborator. And certainly, great steward for the community, in terms of the things that they've done to advance research. And knowledge in, the area but also the community support. So, we work with them very closely on. Collaborative. Research and development, as well as trying. To grow that knowledge base so they're very actively. Interested in advancing. Their cybersecurity expertise. Of course they're already a powerhouse, in intelligent. Systems and, as, well as robotics, and, so certainly we've worked with them to make sure that our students, have pathways to work with them on research projects, through internships many. Of our students, are now our alum are now they're happy. In positions, at IMC but, also to continue to advance the field more, importantly to kind of build again that knowledge base right here in, Northwest, Florida it's, great to have them as a partner so. We're working on some things to be. Able to do more advanced cybersecurity, research and, partnership, with them we're also working on a collaborative. PhD. In intelligent. Systems and robotics, that'll, be a joint program between the University, of West Florida and, IMC. And it'll be a very unique, program throughout, the nation, I have. To ask you this and I'd ask you this a little bit tongue-in-cheek because, they obviously, are doing some awesome things with robotics, and we talk about artificial intelligence and, there's some people get a little, frightened.
By That whole concept. What. Should. We be I, think. That it's interesting to me as somebody who's been in, AI now for what over twenty. Seven seven. Years involved in the field to see that that drama continues, to live on I. Think, certainly there. There's risks and everything that we do but I think if you look at kind of AI, and robotics I mean they've they've really helped modernize our. Lives, in so many ways whether it's through our the, phone our iPhone and the capabilities, that it provides or series. Some things that are as simple as that to. Robots. Or to unmanned vehicles, right so, there's everything in between so I think you. Know certainly we have to keep in mind that these systems are designed by. Heat by, people to. Help write to help solve problems to, help the world to help in various ways and so, I personally, I'm not too worried about the. Hype I think it makes good for television. And for entertainment. But. But but I think as long as we're kind of just, like in the, rest of our practices, we always have ethical. Development even in cybersecurity one of the first things we teach is ethics right, and we continue to emphasize that, because we, know that we're students in order to become good defenders. They're gonna need to understand, offensive, strategies, and how to be able to defend against. Them well well, it's the same in developing intelligent, systems right you always start with what, are the design what are the goals of this what are the purpose how will this help and then, you work your way back towards, proper. And you know effective, design too and to incorporate that I have, about two minutes left as you look ahead over the next five, years to then to, the next decade, where do you see technology taking us what are you most excited about I think. I'm most excited about the, connectivity. That it's enabled the communications. And the barriers, that it's broken down because, certainly looking at how, far we've come as a community, as a society, as. A globe in terms of sharing, resources I, think, that's going to continue to be huge because certainly we look at cutting-edge. Technology. Such as AI or, such as cyber security what's, really helped is the fact that we can collaborate. That we can share resources even, within cyber, security we now have centers where we share information. About vulnerabilities. And threats I, think that's to me that's it's really kind of opened up that connected, world, and that, that's going to open up even more revolutions. As we see related.
To Technology and the impact on society interesting. This stuff is moving fast isn't it very, fast. Is. It kind of the Moore's Law scenario, I mean is it happening that fast I, think it's very exciting so, it's. Great to be in a position where we. Have such great advances. And to, be able to say that in five years from now we'll be in a totally different, you. Know even better world is fantastic. Thank, you so very much what a fascinating conversation, thank you so much for having me on I've enjoyed it you bet wish you all the best, like dr. Eman el-sheikh. From the University, of West, Florida she, is the director of the, Center, for cyber, security at. UWF as well as being a professor by. The way you can see more of our conversations online, at, wsre.org/conversations. As. Well as on YouTube and Facebook I'm, Jeff weeks thank you so very much for watching I hope you enjoyed the broadcast, take wonderful care of yourself we'll season. Support. For this program is, provided in part by Gulf, power a Southern, Company and. By. Viewers like you. Thank. You.