In order to provide research and education services to strengthen the region's efforts of securing cyberspace and cyber-systems, faculty researchers in the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) have engaged in educational and research activities related to cybersecurity for the past decades. Since March 2012, Dean Zbigniew Czajkiewicz and Dr. T. Andrew Yang from the College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at the UHCL have worked intensively to establish a cybersecurity research and education institute for the Houston region. They have worked closely with representatives of organizations in the Houston/Clear Lake area, including the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAHEP). One of the original goals of this effort was to establish mutually beneficial projects that help to improve JSC's and UHCL’s overall capacity in cybersecurity and to promote cybersecurity related research and education activities in the greater Houston area.
Securing the cyberspace is a complex process, requiring substantial knowledge and skills. The complexity of securing a network system is further increased by two constant challenges:
- The underlying technologies of networks and cyber systems continue to evolve, leading
to at least two implications: First, security professionals are required to continually
update their knowledge and skills in order to cope with the new development; furthermore,
new vulnerabilities may be introduced into the cyber systems along with the new technologies.
- The attackers’ tactics continue to evolve, leading to an arms race between the attackers and the security professionals. New vulnerabilities may be discovered and exploited by the attackers leading to, for example, day zero attacks, which cannot be effectively mitigated by traditional signature-based controls.
Mainly because the complexity involved in securing the cyber systems, many organizations, including governmental agencies and private companies, are not ready against potential cyber-attacks. The Houston region, a population, manufacturing, transportation and economic center, is among the most vulnerable regions that are prime targets of cyber and other attacks. A successful attack will cause unimaginable disruption and damages to not only the city but also the nation's and the world's economy.