IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Cybersecurity and protecting our online footprint is an ever-growing concern. Idaho State University is working hard to ensure cybersecurity nationwide through educating the next generation of the cybersecurity workforce.
On Wednesday, U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson visited the Idaho Falls Extension Campus of the University of Idaho and Idaho State University. He visited the campus to learn more about Idaho State University's role in the cybersecurity sphere and discuss a new proposed lab for Industrial CyberSecurity Research.
He was there starting at 11 a.m. and discussed new initiatives with industry experts and researchers. During his visit with the experts and researchers, he learned that the University of Idaho and Idaho State University, are among the nation's leaders in academics for Industrial Cyber-Security. Making up the top seven.
"Cybersecurity is one of the biggest challenges we face in this country. And to find out that two of the seven top universities doing all this stuff are in Idaho, that's kind of amazing when you think about it," Simpson said.
Simpson said he hopes to use his influence in Congress to help secure future funding for the program. The two universities have sent a request to Congress asking for nearly $2.9 million dollars.
"In Congress, we have some influence about what we can do and how we can help them get the resources they need. Because a lot of this stuff is money. It's funding to do these things. And this is not cheap, but it's absolutely necessary," Simpson said.
Congressman Simpson also encourages young people interested in technology to explore the cybersecurity realm.
"If I was in junior high school, I would be looking at something like that. It is getting teachers to understand it so they can get their students involved in it. These young people of the young generation like yourself are fascinated by by technology, and I think we can get them into the field. They just have to know about it. So it starts at grade school getting these young students involved in it throughout high school and then in the college," Simpson said.
An educator for ISU Benjamin Lampe, says showing the congressman the challenges faced by the program is essential to its future success.
"It's just overall good to help paint that picture and help him show that his funding will be put to good effect and really targeted at the problem," Lampe said.
Lampe added as technology continues to rise and improve and more new tech releases so does the need to secure it rise.
"With technology, you also need to secure it because if you don't have security tomorrow, they're going to get hacked.," Lampe said.
Lampe says the program is hoping to expand with some of the funding as currently, they can only hold 20 students in a class at a time.
"The reason we're limited to that is because of the hardware constraints. So we're requesting funding to build systems and build technologies to make this available in a virtual space because virtual spaces allow us to scale very effectively in the cloud being a perfect picture of that. When you're in the cloud or Google the big providers, they can service the entire world because of that, that is the beauty of virtualization," Lampe said. "So our challenge is to take the expertise we have on physical trainers that have a level of say, limitations, and ability of how many people can work on it and open that up for people. So not only building bigger and better trainers that go to a larger scale, but also make those trainers available for any others that need to bring that into their curriculum and bring them as a resource into their education to make them more hands-on, make it more real for the student."
Congressman Simpson and the educators he visited look forward to a bright future in Idaho's Cyber-Security.