Why should I care about cybersecurity?

The increasing reliance on computer systems has made cybersecurity a growing concern. Missouri S&T Magazine staff asked Cristina Serban, MS CSci’93, PhD CSci’96, a researcher with the Chief Security Office at AT&T and holder of five patents for various security systems, about the industry, its history and what the future has in store for information security.

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S&T: Cybersecurity is a big topic in the news recently. Why is it important?

Serban: Cybersecurity touches almost everything we do. Technology is exploding and new gadgets are invented each day. Each and every one of these things needs security built into it.

S&T: How can your fellow alumni stay secure online?

Serban: It really helps to not click on everything you see. That cat video may promise to be funny, but is it from a trusted source? People need to be cautious while online. Businesses also need to follow security measures, since breaches can be costly. Awareness programs and employee training should be a must.

S&T: What is the future of the information security field?

Serban: The field will continue to grow. It is a relatively new specialization and innovation continues to build the need for security. The Internet of Things and machine-to-machine technologies will expand, and with that so will cybersecurity demands.

S&T: Can you tell us about the patents you hold and how they came about?

Serban: I have patents in content distribution systems and virtual platforms security systems. They all came naturally from my work. I see a product or process and want to make it better. If something bothered me, I would see how I could improve it and make it secure at the same time.

S&T: What skills do you need to be successful in the your field?

Serban: It comes down to three main things: curiosity, attention to detail, and a willingness to learn and adapt. It’s not just what your textbook says; security is not created in a vacuum. Professionals need to think about what could go wrong and try to prepare for it.

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