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New Academic Cybersecurity Center Names First Director

Anderson University has named Karl Perman, a U.S. Army veteran with a background in law enforcement and corporate security, as the first executive director of its new Center for Security Studies and Cyber Defense.

A digital padlock over a tech background.
(TNS) — Anderson University has named  Karl Perman , a U.S. Army veteran with a background in law enforcement and corporate security, as the first executive director of its new Center for Security Studies and Cyber Defense, funded through a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment and the Avis Foundation.

"I am pleased to welcome Karl to campus to lead our cutting edge initiative to equip students for a career in cybersecurity, whether in the private sector or with federal, state or local agencies, all within the AU tradition of excellence," said AU President  John S. Pistole .

Over his tenure at AU, Pistole, a former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has advanced cybersecurity as a lucrative major for students, building up the discipline through the development of the center and special programming including visits by national leaders in the field.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Perman, 54, studied public law and government at Eastern Michigan University but developed an interest in law enforcement as a military police officer.

"I learned a lot of cybersecurity in military intelligence," he said.

Eventually working his way up as an agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Perman later switched to senior-level corporate security positions at North American Transmission ForumExelon Corp. and Southern California Edison. In 2011, he was named one of Security magazine's most influential people in security.

A leader in cybersecurity, which didn't even exist when he was the age of the students he will welcome to the center, Perman said he considers himself a businessperson first and a security expert second but likes to look holistically at the threats to any organization he has been sworn to protect.

"If it gets out in the press as far as having poor cybersecurity, it really affects your brand," he said.

The new center will benefit not only the students but also the community as students conduct internships and projects through the program, Perman said. Most students will be majoring in the computer science and security studies programs, he said.

"We want to give the students lab experience so they can improve skills," he said. "They will learn in a real lab rather than just academic theory and it gives them a wage so they can be on their way toward earning a living."

Eventually, Perman said, AU hopes to add graduate-level coursework, continued education and certificate coursework for these rapidly changing fields. The challenge today, he said, is not the rogue hacker.

"Unethical conduct has become a big deal, even with nation-states. There 's no doubt that one of these foreign countries would like to announce, they have gotten into critical systems in the United States," he said. "Cybercrime has become not just a hobby; it's become a business."

Threats to cybersecurity continue to go up because of the increasing intellectual capabilities of the adversaries, Perman said.

"Every time we come up with a better mousetrap, they are trying to learn about the mousetrap and how to take the cheese," he said.

Because of this, cybersecurity presents an opportunity for job stability, Perman stressed.

Because people now are working more from home rather than in office buildings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, that adds a new layer of security that must be considered.

"These organizations have to be knowledgeable about their workforce when it's done remotely, but that makes it hard to do," he said. "I don't know anybody in cybersecurity who has been laid off. If anything, they have been hiring more in cybersecurity."

(c)2021 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.