Source: Orlando Business Journal | Matthew Richardson | May 19, 2016

A University of Central Florida professor is digging deeper into research to prevent computer hackers from gaining access to information, while also helping to grow the future workforce in cybersecurity — which could be great news for the local business community.

Assistant professor Yier Jin, who has a doctoral degree in electrical engineering from Yale University and came to UCF in 2012, landed a $750,000 grant from theU.S. Department of Energy on May 16 to fund his research in developing cybersecurity-enhanced hardware and software to prevent data breaches.

Jin's research on enhancing cybersecurity hardware and software has been four years in the making.

As technology has advanced, cybersecurity has increasingly become an issue that many businesses are concerned about. That's because as more important documents become digital data, hackers are sometimes able to get their hands on information that could potentially harm a company or cause it to go out of business.

Jin said that one of the best ways to improve a computer's security is to enhance its hardware as well as its software. "Many times, people focus on the software aspect of security, but software brings in too many problems with leaving a computer exposed," he said.

Jin's idea is that any device that connects to the internet can be developed with better hardware — the actual physical parts and wires — to better pair it with cybersecurity software. If successful, his findings could be put into mass use with computers and smart devices such as tablets and phones.

However, the problem is that most students in computer engineering programs focus mostly on software development and not hardware creation, Jin said. And that's where the grant funds come in: The funding of $150,000 a year for five years will support doctorate and graduate-level students for their research in computer hardware and software.

UCF is already making strides in cybersecurity education as it received recognition as a National Center for Academic Excellence in cyberdefense education, a designation awarded by the National Security Agency and theDepartment of Homeland Security. From that recognition, the school is now eligible for scholarships and research grants that could bring in federal money to help build up the cyberdefense program — a necessary move because of the demand for talent in the field.