USC Launches Cybersecurity Effort to Better Protect Your Information


The University of South Carolina announced Wednesday the creation of a new cybersecurity effort to better protect your personal information. “SC Cyber” is a consortium of business, academic, and government partners that will train businesses how to beef up cybersecurity and fight cyber crime.

Les Eisner, with USC’s Office of Economic Engagement, says the need for the program is already huge and is growing. “Today, there’s about 15 billion connected devices. By 2025, the estimates are there are going to be 40 billion devices,” he says.

Gov. Nikki Haley helped announced the new effort, saying her eyes were opened to the problem when hackers broke into the state Department of Revenue in 2012, stealing the personal information of 3.8 million adults and about 700,000 businesses. Since then, state agencies have been focused on cybersecurity. She says SC Cyber will enhance that. “What are the newest and latest ways that they’re trying to hack? What are the vulnerabilities that we need to be watching for? How can we educate the private sector so that they know now to protect themselves? And are we training our newest students on what cybersecurity is and how they need to be thinking going into this next era?”

Tommy Suggs, president and CEO of KeenanSuggs Insurance, says every business is vulnerable. Hackers will send an email that looks legitimate, for example directing an employee to wire money to another business. He says, “It happened to me recently in Atlanta. I was there last week in a meeting, get an email from one of my employees, one of my accounting people said, ‘Are you sending us emails to wire $250,000?’ I said no, I’ve never sent an email like that. But someone was in our system.”

USC President Harris Pastides says the effort is more than just training businesses, though. “At USC, I’m very pleased that we’ll be deepening and expanding our curriculum, so that USC students, and I know that with other universities as well, we want our own students to have more coursework in cybersecurity, more internships to work in the private sector and in the government sector,” he says.

The effort should prepare more students to go into cybersecurity, where there are already an estimated 2,300 open jobs in South Carolina, in a field that’s grown by more than 130 percent since 2010.

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