Cybersecurity is everyone’s business

TU’s Cyber4All Center serves as a hub of cybersecurity innovation for students, faculty

By JAMIE ABELL on March 11, 2024

Students at desks in the Cyber4All Center
The Cyber4All Center has the space and equipment for students and faculty to perform research and learn about cybersecurity. (Alexander Wright | Towson University)

Since Towson University’s Center for Interdisciplinary & Innovative Cybersecurity (Cyber4All Center) opened in November 2022, it has only grown as a hub for interdisciplinary cybersecurity research and education. The center engages faculty and students across TU alongside government and industry partners to solve real-world issues and prepare the next generation of cyber professionals. 

The National Security Agency (NSA) first designated TU as a Center of Academic Excellence for cyber defense education in 2002 and in cyber operations in 2014. 

"Cybersecurity affects everyone, and I’m so happy that Cyber4All can grow and sustain cybersecurity research and education across TU,” says Blair Taylor, director of the center. “This center is a hub for research that will make not only our TU community more cyber-prepared but the region around us as well.”

For students

The Cyber4All Center welcomes any student interested in cybersecurity. For example, students who want to expand their knowledge of computer security can join the Cyber Defense Club. Led by Mike O’Leary, Ph.D., in the Department of Mathematics and supported by the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, it does not require experience and meets on weekend mornings to prepare for competitions and events. 

Students—regardless of their major, minor or program—can conduct research under the guidance of faculty members. The work often has palpable implications. Most recently, the Empowering Secure Elections Lab launched a survey for the Anne Arundel County voting public to determine why they vote—or don’t. Under the guidance of Natalie Scala (College of Business and Economics) and Josh Dehlinger (Fisher College of Math and Science), students from CBE and CIS have taken lead roles on this project, in partnership with the Anne Arundel County Board of Elections.

The state-of-the-art equipment includes different types of software specific to unique educational goals. Students can also readily access equipment that eases collaboration among peers and allows them to practice their skills.

Student at desk
Joshua Ouyporn

"The Cyber4All Center makes it easy to communicate with cyber faculty and staff from across the university to enhance my knowledge of cybersecurity,” says Joshua Ouyporn ’21, ’24, an assistant coordinator of technology and operations at the center. “During my cybersecurity journey, I’ve had access to so many resources and reliable leadership from faculty dedicated to helping us succeed and ensuring cyber is accessible to everyone of all technological backgrounds.” Ouyporn is going to use the skills he gained in cybersecurity in his new career as an assistive technology coordinator for Accessibility & Disability Services at TU.

For faculty

The center supports educators and researchers across Towson University working toward solving cybersecurity problems and integrating the knowledge gained to enrich students’ educational experience. In addition to Scala and Dehlinger’s lab, the center houses the SecurEd Lab (led by Taylor and Sidd Kaza, Ph.D., associate provost for research and dean of grad studies) and the Security Operations Lab (led by Willie Sanders, Ph.D., Department of Computer and Information Sciences).

Faculty research projects are typically funded through grants provided by federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, National Security Agency and the Department of Defense.

Research areas range from using artificial intelligence models for cybersecurity applications, cybersecurity learning sciences, election security, risk analysis, security operations and much more.

"When faculty comes together from interdisciplinary backgrounds, I can’t help but sit back and watch. This is exactly how we solve problems and overcome cybersecurity challenges,” says Taylor.

The SecurEd Lab spun out SecurEd Inc., a Towson University-born cybersecurity nonprofit focused on building  a cyber-ready workforce through products and services, like CLARK, that facilitate teaching, learning and research across the cybersecurity education continuum, including classrooms at TU. The lab supports 23 TU students, undergraduate and graduate from majors across campus, who work on an NSA grant for building a national strategy on cybersecurity curriculum.

"We work at the intersection of cybersecurity and education, where we are integrating AI into this ever-evolving landscape,” says Paige Flores, the lead doctoral student in the SecurEd Lab. “Providing these tools to others will help educate students on the importance of cyber and make it easier to teach and learn about cybersecurity.”

The Cyber4All Center offers a variety of activities and events to engage the community, raise awareness and develop cyber-prepared citizens, including monthly open houses, seminars, recruitment events and conferences.

Get involved