By Jonah Grinkewitz

Fifteen students from Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and the College of William & Mary have completed the Fall 2021 Cybersecurity Undergraduate Research Program.

The program is run by the Coastal Virginia Center for Cyber Innovation (COVA CCI).

Led by ODU, COVA CCI is one of four branches of the state-funded Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). The other branches are in Northern Virginia (George Mason University), Central Virginia (Virginia Commonwealth University) and Southwest Virginia (Virginia Tech).

The program pairs undergraduate students with an academic advisor from one of the partnering institutions to complete an independent research topic related to cybersecurity.

Students presented their research during a virtual showcase last December.

The value that undergraduate research brings to student success cannot be overstated," said Brian Payne, vice provost for academic affairs at ODU and the COVA CCI director. "While learning about the research process and a specific cybersecurity topic, these students also enhanced their communication skills. These skills ultimately help to shape these students as future professionals."

This was echoed by Iria Giuffrida, professor of the Practice of Law at William & Mary.

"Cybersecurity poses significant challenges that require interdisciplinary thinking," she said. "This program creates the unique opportunity for undergraduate students to investigate an issue that fascinates them under the guidance of a professor - a specialist in the field - who will guide them in thinking outside the proverbial box. In several instances, students are supervised by professors from disciplines different from those in which the students are majoring. This is an enriching experience for both student and supervisor."

The selected students and their research topics are listed below, and their papers can be read on the COVA CCI website.

  • Kevin Rossi Acosta, ODU, "Effects of Cloud Computing in the Workforce"
  • Sierra Burnett, ODU, "Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) compliance for DoD contractors"
  • David M. Cooke, ODU, "Cybersecurity: Building a Better Defense with a Great Offense"
  • Marlow Cosby Jr. ODU, "How secure are Android and Apple's operating systems and based applications against cyber-attacks and cybercrime"
  • Joanna DiSicipio, W&M, "Developing an International Framework for Addressing Non-State Actors in Cyberspace"
  • Raymond Gestel, ODU, "GDPR, PIPL & LGPD: "Privacy Regulations & Policies across the Globe"
  • Chad Holm, ODU, "Leverage Psychological factors Associated with Lapses in Cybersecurity in Organizational Management"
  • Matthew Nguyen, ODU, "Protection of Patient Privacy on Mobile Device Machine Learning"
  • Killian Robinson, ODU, "Self-supervised Perceptual Adblocker"
  • Mary Riley, ODU, "Best Cybersecurity Practices for Companies, Post Van Buren"
  • Seth Smith, ODU, "An Analysis of Significant Cyber Incidents and the Impact on the Past, Present, and Future"
  • Noam Stanislawski, W&M, "Tackling AI Bias with GANs"
  • Connor D. Yu, W&M, "On the Usage and Vulnerabilities of API Systems"
  • Torre Williams, ODU, "Analytical Approach to Biometric Security and How It Affects Privacy"
  • Zobair Wali, ODU, "Internet of Things: Cybersecurity in Small Businesses"

The program will run again this semester with another 15 students representing Camp Community College, Christopher Newport University, Norfolk State University, Old Dominion University, Thomas Nelson Community College, Tidewater Community College and William & Mary. Mentors from each institution will support students in their research.

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