At Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute on May 21, three national universities signed memoranda of cooperation with DAI Global LLC within the project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) "Cybersecurity of Critical Infrastructure of Ukraine". On behalf of the National Technical University of Ukraine "Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute" the relevant document was signed by Rector Michael Zgurovsky, on behalf of the Shevchenko Kyiv National University - First Vice-Rector Volodymyr Ilchenko, on behalf of the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” - Acting President Oleksandra Humenna. All three memoranda were signed on behalf of USAID by Timothy Dubel, project director.
DAI Global LLC, with which the universities will cooperate within the project, is its executor from the USA. In addition, in project are also involved Catalisto, a company that distributes advanced security technologies, Florida International University, Information Systems Security Partners, an international specialized cybersecurity company, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, SocialBoost, a Ukrainian technological public organisation, and Veterans First Initiative, a strategic IT solutions company.
Why the idea for such a project came up and why right now? The fact is that cyberspace is now becoming a battlefield. And attacks on objects that ensure the viability of individual enterprises, settlements, or entire states, can be, if not as bloody as in real space, then certainly no less destructive. However, destruction or accidents at such facilities can also pose very serious threats to the health and even lives of people living in the areas concerned. Especially when those are enterprises of such industries as energy, chemical industry, transport, banking and financial sector organizations, information technology and telecommunications, health care, utilities, etc., which are strategically important for the functioning of the economy and security of the state, society and population. In a word, all those objects that belong to the critical infrastructure. The issues of cyberspace protection are especially acute for our country, which has been in a state of hybrid war for 7 years. Therefore, this project of USAID is aimed at helping Ukraine in the face of very real dangers that threaten its security and economy, and its immediate goal is to reduce and, if possible, eliminate the factors of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the critical infrastructure of our country and its regions.
The project is designed for a little more than 2 years. It has three main directions. The first is to strengthen the preconditions that promote cybersecurity (this includes improving and bringing into line with international standards the legal and institutional framework of the national cybersecurity sector). The second is the development of a sustainable cybersecurity industry in Ukraine. And the third, which primarily concerns Ukrainian universities, is the development of national human resources in the field of cybersecurity.
This third component should help to close staffing gaps in the field of cybersecurity through training new qualified personnel and assisting educational institutions in improving the skills of existing professionals. The project will cover the entire human resources system - both improving the quality of education provided to future cybersecurity professionals and improving sectoral educational programs to accelerate staff development in Ukraine, as these people will have to respond effectively to direct network vulnerabilities. . Thus, this area should provide assistance to higher education institutions in teaching a course of cybersecurity disciplines, including the opportunity to hone practical skills in virtual training laboratories. In fact, all this, together with some other specific measures, is reflected in detail in the memoranda. In particular, the project plans to provide Ukrainian universities with opportunities to teach students practical skills in virtual training laboratories on cybersecurity (cyberfields), which will allow them not only to undergo theoretical training, but also to actively develop their skills to identify and combat real malicious software in a wide range of networks with simulation of real situations. It is interesting in this regard that, among a number of other measures to gain practical experience in the field of cyber security, the project, under certain conditions, will even support the conduction of regional team student competitions in cybersecurity - very popular among information security professionals online games Capture The Flag and hackathons - between HEI, which are members of the educational network with access to training cyberfields.
"The document, which was signed today, provides additional opportunities to improve the methodology of our educational process in the field of cybersecurity. It also provides several measures to improve the skills of our teachers, who will then pass it all on to our students. There is also a separate training program for our students. These are some new disciplines that can be included in our curricula. And, very importantly, the project partners are several American universities that specialize in cybersecurity and can acquaint us with modern aspects and trends in its development, - said to "Kyiv Polytechnic" director of the Institute of Physics and Technology Olexii Novikov. - At the same time, we should not assume that our cybersecurity experts are lagging behind in this area. We know a lot and can do a lot, our teachers are highly valued, many of them have international certificates. But contacts with colleagues, especially as powerful as those working in American universities, will certainly give us a new impetus to improve the quality of education, introduce new plans and methods, perhaps provide access to specific software, and so on. Given that we have about six hundred students studying in this speciality, and there are also students and cadets of ISZZI, Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute will have someone to take advantage of such cooperation.”
Finally, it should be noted that 14 Ukrainian universities have already signed documents on cooperation with USAID within the framework of the project "Cybersecurity of Critical Infrastructure of Ukraine".