plugged_in_rgbIn April 2015, the University of Florida and the University Press of Florida launched Gatorbytes, a digital book series following the innovative research taking place at UF. Intended to pique the interests of the intellectually curious and to share the stories behind the discoveries being made at UF, the books are written by professional journalists. 

“They know how to take complex material, break it down into manageable chunks and tell a story,” says Meredith Babb, director of the University Press of Florida.

We’re taking a closer look at each of the works in the Gatorbytes series to spotlight the journalists working to share these amazing projects and to offer even more behind-the-scenes information about the groundbreaking research.


In Plugged In: Cybersecurity in the Modern Age, Jon Silman introduces the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity Research (FICS Research), the nation’s premier multidisciplinary research institute for the advancement of cybersecurity in all areas of society. FICS Research is the only institute in the country that provides expertise covering so many areas of cybersecurity: hardware, network, mobile, big data, internet of things (IOT), applied crypto, social sciences, law, and more. Jon Silman shines a spotlight on some of the foremost minds in cybersecurity.

Domenic Forte is a member of the FICS Research team that specializes in hardware security. Much like FICS Research itself, Dominic Forte takes a multifaceted approach to cybersecurity. Counterfeit detection, hardware trojan detection, reverse engineering, and biometrics are just a few of the areas that Forte researches.

Forte shares his interest in hardware with one of the co-directors of FICS Reasearch, Mark Tehranipoor. Forte worked with Tehranipoor at the University of Connecticut before both moved to the University of Florida.

Tehranipoor studies and improves the security of integrated chips, which he calls “the foundation of every device.” Hardware is far from infallible, though it’s rarely thought of as being as vulnerable as software to hacking. Chips are present in electronic devices from cell phones to army helicopters. A sabotaged chip could mean a data leak at least and a catastrophic malfunction at worst. With the increasing integration of our everyday lives with technology,  the multi-pronged approach FICS Research takes to cybersecurity becomes ever more necessary.

Tom Shrimpton is another member of the FICS Research team, and he focuses his work on the software side of cybersecurity, in encryption and cryptography.

Shrimpton isn’t only interested in cybersecurity within American borders, but also in using his cybersecurity know-how in order to make a difference in people’s lives around the world. By giving people the tools to circumvent censorship and government-maintained firewalls, Shrimpton helps connect them not only to the internet, but to the international communities it fosters.

FICS Research stretches across the U.S. and beyond in order to provide tech users (an ever-growing part of our world) with safe and reliable technology, and to protect the free exchange of information.

Patrick Traynor is the other co-director of the FICS Reasearch with Mark Tehranipoor and, like much of the team, an advocate for such wide-ranging interdisciplinary research. “The idea is that we’re kind of the one stop shop for
security research, for hardware systems software, for cryptography, for human computer interactions,” he told Silman. “We have broad and deep coverage like no other university does, and that makes us able to deal with problems in a way that other places can’t.”

The FICS Research team is committed to staying on the cutting edge of cybersecurity and having a worldwide impact of people’s lives. They are constantly pushing forward with new ideas, innovating and inventing technology and procedures to better serve and protect users and their data. As Silman says, “It’s a team to keep an eye on.”

Check out UF’s Q&A with three member of the FICS Reasearch team for more information on how best to secure your own data.

To learn more about cybersecurity and the cutting edge research going on at FICS Research, check out Jon Silman’s Plugged In.

This and other Gatorbytes can be found on our website.

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