As it was for so many around the world, 2020-2021 was a year of change at the Florida Center for Cybersecurity (Cyber Florida). In addition to navigating the pandemic, the introduction of new leadership ushered in a bolder vision for the Center with high-reaching objectives designed to position Cyber Florida on the national stage. A comprehensive review of resources, structure, and mission areas culminated in an ambitious three-year Strategic Plan with well-defined goals aligned to our three mission pillars: education, research, and outreach. We were part of three grant awards from the federal government that brought nearly $8 million in funding to the state of Florida, including funding for free workforce training for veterans and first-responders! 

Some of the key achievements from 2020-2021 include

  • Retooling the University of South Florida’s M.S. in Cybersecurity into four new master’s degree programs to more effectively address employer needs
  • Implementing Operation K12: a highly successful initiative in partnership with the Florida Center for Instructional Technology that has infused cybersecurity hygiene and career awareness curricula into public schools throughout Florida and created numerous pathways for K-12 students to spark and encourage interest in cybersecurity careers
  • Partnering with DC-based think-tank New America to create a national Cyber Citizenship Education program to combat the rising threat of mis- and disinformation online
  • Funding rapid research projects to investigate how COVID-19 misinformation spread via social media in the early weeks of the pandemic, how the public used social media to seek health-related information, and cybercrime victimization stemming from COVID-19
  • Landing three grant projects to support the National Security Agency’s Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAE-C) program by providing leadership support for the Southeast Region; designing and implementing a national workforce development program, CyberSkills2Work, as part of a 10-member consortium; and creating a national collegiate cyber competition for the CAE Community with a focus on encouraging newcomers to field, particularly those from underrepresented groups
  • Adding staff resources to enhance our role in enabling and facilitating of state-of-the-art research across the State University System of Florida (SUS) by capturing more grant opportunities, bringing more research dollars to Florida, and leading a series of research-focused events
  • Introducing a public policy aspect to our outreach mission area to effect change at the state and national level, advocating for legislative and budgetary support to improve the overall cybersecurity posture of our citizens, organizations, and nation-at-large
  • Bringing together an incredible roster of distinguished thought-leaders for a major virtual conference hosted on behalf of U.S. Central Command examining the United States’ role in cyberspace through the lens of the ‘Great Power Competition’
  • Creating a Governing Council of dean-level representatives from across the SUS to guide and support our efforts
  • Conducting several successful public outreach campaigns—one in partnership with the Florida Secretary of State to raise awareness about voting misinformation—on matters of public cyber safety