NYU Fights for Cyber Security


A rendering of the new Global Cyber Center that will be on 17th Street and 7th Avenue in Chelsea. (Courtesy of NYCEDC)

Benjamin Michael Davis, Contributing Writer

Cybersecurity breaches cost companies and individuals troves of data and millions of dollars each year. 

From banks like JPMorgan to social media networks like Facebook and even 144 universities across the country, data breaches come with a heavy cost. This is exacerbated by the shortage of cybersecurity professionals who can help safeguard this data. 

NYU has begun participating in a citywide effort, Cyber NYC, that intends to help fill this gap in the industry. A part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York Works program, the initiative will feature educational training in cybersecurity, a hub designed to help startups enter the market and more. 

Nasir Memon, a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Tandon School of Engineering and associate dean for Online Learning, will be involved in NYU’s part of the initiative. 

“Some of the biggest consumers of cybersecurity in the world are sitting right here in New York City: the large banks, the financial corporations and these days even the media corporations need cybersecurity,” Memon said. “We are the capital of these two industries in the world. The applied learning initiative aims at creating programs that educate a workforce skilled in cybersecurity.” 

The Cyber NYC program is supposed to achieve this startup culture in three ways — creating jobs, training workers and helping students innovate. Each of these three aspects of the program will be carried out by the universities and companies working in tandem, but each subsection of the program will rely on one institution heavily taking the lead. 

NYU, which will assist with technological innovation in the program, is joined by a list of other schools involved in the initiative, including Columbia University, Cornell University and the City University of New York. 

“Working people today need to keep on learning in cybersecurity even after they graduate,” Memon said. “We’re proposing these stackable credentials, whereby you have small modules, say something like one-month courses similar to a one-credit course and there will be a selection of them. Working professionals or students can come on in and take them one at a time and then string them together to get a certificate and then maybe in the future, string certificates together to get a degree.”

NYU will also offer programs that help undergraduate students. The technology transfer program will help students and faculty commercialize their achievements in the cyber security realm. 

NYU may already have students willing to up the offer. 

“I don’t feel that I naturally have very good business skills, so I would definitely take advantage of this program if I come up with a project they can help with,” said CAS sophomore Rachel Cameron, who is majoring in Computer Science. 

The job creation part of Cyber NYC will be carried out mostly by two companies, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and SOSA. JVP will operate Hub NYC, a cybersecurity investment hub in a 50,000-square-feet facility in SoHo with the goal of helping industry startups commercialize to become major players in the industry. SOSA will run the new Global Cyber Center, a 15,000-square-feet space in Chelsea.

SOSA CEO Uzi Scheffer said the center will function as a location for experts in the cybersecurity field to meet and discuss innovations in the field as well as work on their own projects. 

“The Cyber Center will serve as the meeting place for the cyber security ecosystem and key players — entrepreneurs, investors, academia, corporations and public sector,” Scheffer said.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 22 print edition. Email Benjamin Michael Davis at [email protected].