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SMU Adds Former NSA Research Director To Cyber Security Program

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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - The cyber threat is considered one of the biggest threats to the U.S. national security and economy.

It seems not a day goes by, when we don’t hear about banks, other businesses, and everyday people getting hacked.

Matas Andriekus, an SMU student, has learned the hard way.  “My computer got hacked last year.  I had to restore my computer and all my settings.”

The Government Accounting Office recently reported the number of cyber security incidents reported by federal agencies skyrocketed from 5,000 in 2006 to nearly 45,000 last year.

The problem has become so big that SMU is now making a major investment to help solve it.

On Friday, SMU introduced Dr. Frederick Chang, as its Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security and Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in its Lyle School of Engineering.

As a former director of research at the NSA or National Security Agency, Chang is one of the foremost experts on cybersecurity.

During his introductory remarks, Dr. Chang said, “I had a front row seat with a view into what some of the most sophisticated adversaries would like to do to the U.S.”

While he wouldn’t discuss specifics or the controversy surrounding the NSA now, Chang has written about how to keep the cyber security problem from escalating.

Chang told me, “The field today is very reactive and after the fact, and we need to develop programs and thinking to get ahead of the problem.”

While at SMU, Chang will be researching how to do just that.

Tim Esfandiari is a junior majoring in computer science.

He says, “As a computer science major, it’s something I need to know about.”

While Esfandiari doesn’t know yet if he’ll eventually work in that field, Dr. Chang says the nation needs many more experts in cyber security.

He believes the new program at SMU will prove to be a breeding ground.

SMU introduced Chang after its board of trustees unanimously voted to increase their endowment goal from $750 million to $1 billion.

The university surpassed its original goal and has raised $780 million.

The campaign is scheduled to end in 2015, marking SMU’s 100th anniversary.

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