NSF-funded project helps veterans build skills in cybersecurity

In May, 11 U.S. veterans gathered at the University of Florida to learn how to hack into computer systems.

With the intensity and persistence of a shady cyber-criminal, the Florida veterans learned – through trial and much error – how to invade protected computer networks and become serious cybersecurity threats. 

What’s more, they were very good at it.

“You cannot learn how to hack without actually hacking. They learned how to hack in way that is safe for them and safe for society,” said Sandip Ray, Ph.D., a professor in UF's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who led the group of carefully selected military veterans to study hardware security.

Led by UF's Warren B. Nelms Institute, the three-year project is called Pivots: VETS-HASTE: Veterans SkillBridge through Industry-Based Hardware Security Training and Education; it is funded by $1 million from the National Science Foundation and is led by Ray of UF’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Wanli Xing, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the College of Education.

The study teaches veterans in-demand skills in a chaotic cyber-world that is constantly under attack from crafty hackers. This is an intense program that hosted the veterans on campus for a week and then has them working on home studies through the fall with access to UF resources, including Ray.

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David Schlenker June 14, 2024