Russian and US students study cyber threats together

Aug 12, 2012

A bill to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity laws stalled in Congress this week, but the issue remains a top priority for policy makers and business leaders around the globe.

That's why the University at Albany has launched a new program pairing students in New York and Russia to teach them about cybersecurity.

"Your digital fingerprint"

Fabio Auffant was one of the first officers in New York join the newly formed State Police Computer Crime Unit back in 1998.

These days the retired lieutenant is sharing what he’s learned about cybercrime with graduate students at UAlbany.

Auffant’s teaching a course called Introduction to Digital Forensics and his class of Russian and American students is the first group to go through the school’s new graduate certificate program in Information Security, also known as cybersecurity.

The former police officer has testified in dozens of state and federal court cases over the years.

“It’s very difficult to cover your digital fingerprint," he says.

As more and more of our lives move online, the field of cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important not only to the police, but also to governments and businesses.

Experts are unable to estimate how much cybercrime has already cost the public and private sectors.

From Moscow to Albany

It's one of the reasons Daniel Smith signed up for the courses. He graduated from UAlbany with an MBA in the spring and hopes that spending the summer getting this graduate certificate will help him land a job.

“I think it’s a really important field and it’s growing really fast and there’s a high demand and not that many people trained in it, so I think it would be a good opportunity for me," he says.

Smith admits he also signed up so he could visit Russia. 

It’s a country known to many Americans as the home of some of the most sophisticated hackers and cyber criminals on the planet.

Smith was there in June to study with a group of other American and Russian graduate students at the Bauman Moscow State Technical Institute. The school has a longstanding relationship with UAlbany that predates the Cold War.

“We went to the Kremlin and the Red Square. Probably my favorite part of the trip was St. Petersburg," says Smith.

The students returned to Albany in July for the remainder of the classes. Smith took his turn hosting the Russians- showing them around the state capital and taking them on a camping trip to the Adirondacks.

For more on this story and the Innovation Trail, visit their website. You can also follow Marie Cusick on Twitter @MarieCusick.

The Innovation Trail is a collaboration between five upstate New York public media outlets. The initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), helps the public gain a better understanding of the connection between technological breakthroughs and the revitalization of the upstate New York economy.