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Universities beef up cybersecurity, identity theft research

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The University of Texas at Austin will open a center to offer research, programs and workshops to help the public better understand the threats of identity theft, fraud and privacy.  The university said its outreach would initially involve groups most at risk to the threats: senior citizens, children and small business operators.

The resources would be funded with a $5 million appropriation from the Texas legislature, the largest state investment in identity theft protection in the country, according to the university.

The project is being managed by of UT’s Center for Identity, an inter-disciplinary research center that draws from the university’s business, law, engineering and computer science departments for a focus on identity management, privacy and security.

Leveraging the resources of The University of Texas and those of its public and private sector members, the Center aims to forecast threats and deliver solutions that define and protect identity in physical and cyber environments.

Susan Combs, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, who is on the center’s board of advisors and chairs its child ID task force, called identity fraud “an increasingly common occurrence and a huge expense for state and federal government.”

“Smarter, more informed consumers lead to less fraud, theft and abuse of identity information,” she added. “We believe this effort can help prevent millions lost to the state of Texas as a result of identity fraud cases.”

The resource center, which was announced at the Center for Identity’s third annual ID360 conference, is expected to launch in the summer of 2014.

Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut is planning to expand an existing research center it operates on hardware security with the help of a multimillion-dollar investment by cable operator Comcast Corp., according to the Hartford Courant.

The state has been plagued with security breaches in the last year, according to the report, which said 400 breaches affected half a million residents.

The UConn program, named the Center of Excellence for Security Innovation, will lead research into the IT components of cybersecurity, with six professors and seven doctoral candidates dedicated to work at the center.

Mark Tehranipoor, director of the Comcast-UConn partnership, said his goal is to make the center “a national authority for hardware, software and network security,” according to the Courant.

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