RIT secures support from Google Cybersecurity Clinics Fund

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RIT’s cybersecurity clinic is expected to help the community develop a long-term cybersecurity defense. (Photo: Elizabeth Lamark/RIT)

Rochester Institute of Technology will receive $500,000 from the Google Cybersecurity Clinics Fund to help build a cyber workforce and defend critical infrastructure in local communities.

The first university to get such funds, RIT will use the dollars to deploy teams of students to provide free cyber assessment services and resources to  community groups, including nonprofits, small businesses, municipal organizations and school  districts, officials say. The approach is modeled after free clinics at law and medical schools.

“The expansion of our cybersecurity clinic through this partnership will give students real-life  experiences and an opportunity to sharpen their skills while also helping their community,” says  Ersin Uzun, Katherine Johnson endowed executive director of RIT’s ESL Global Cybersecurity  Institute. “We hope to build long-lasting relationships that can keep the talent in the region by  making students aware of local opportunities and connecting the community with the talent  they need to stay secure in this landscape of ever-increasing cyber threats.” 

The funding comes  from Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org., as part of a $20 million  collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics.  The Google Cybersecurity Clinics Fund hopes to grow and support existing members of the consortium while searching for new higher education institutions to help students build a career in cybersecurity. It has been a challenge to fill cybersecurity jobs nationwide. In New York, there are 27,503 job openings , according to Cyberseek.

“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,” says 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.” 

Over the last five years, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has received an average of 652,000 complaints per year. These complaints, which address a wide array of Internet scams affecting victims across the globe, totaled 3.26 million during that period (2018-2022), and translated to $27.6 billion in total losses.

Smaller organizations, including local governments and nonprofits tend to be easy targets, especially because they lack the resources to defend their infrastructure, experts say. 

In addition to grant funding, Google offers RIT volunteer mentorship from Google employees,  Google Titan Security Keys and scholarships for the new Google Career Certificate in  Cybersecurity, RIT says.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

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