Three of Oregon’s largest research universities have joined forces to create the Oregon Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, an effort to improve the state’s resilience to cyber threats.
The new center was created through the passage of a state bill last year that established a cybersecurity grant program fund and an advisory council. The jointly run facility will be housed at Portland State University with experts collaborating from Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. Events at the center are anticipated to begin this month, according to a Monday press release.
“Cyberattacks hit public agencies, private businesses and individuals daily,” Oregon state Rep. Nancy Nathanson, who co-sponsored the bill, said in the release. “Malicious actors are demanding ransom payment in exchange for access to stolen data. Oregon school districts, cities and businesses aren’t just vulnerable, they are being attacked.”
According to the bill, the center will help coordinate, fund and provide cybersecurity awareness, research and workforce development programs at public universities and community colleges.
“Universities are uniquely positioned to establish or expand relationships with various stakeholders and collectively offer the required expertise and experiences to support, coordinate and execute a wide range of envisioned activities to address cybersecurity challenges across the state,” Reza Rejaie, a professor at the University of Oregon and associate director of the center, said in the release.
Local governments, school districts and libraries are among the entities that will be prioritized in receiving cybersecurity services from the center. The center also plans to offer private and nonprofit groups in the state with best practices to protect and recover from cyberattacks.
Additionally, the center will serve as a statewide advisory board to the legislature, governor and state chief information office on government cybersecurity issues in Oregon.
“The opportunity for having such a profound societal impact and working with all these stakeholders make our involvement in the center uniquely exciting,” said Birol Yesilada, the center’s first director and a cybersecurity professor at Portland State University.