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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

In The Age Of Coronavirus, Your IT Department Becomes Especially Important, UD Says

University of Dayton
UD Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence provides workforce development, awareness and training.

Possibly one of the first things to gowhen companies have money problems is the information technology department. Cybersecurity experts don't want that to happen, especially during a pandemic when the practice of employees working from home puts online information at risk.

With the University of Dayton's Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence now a regional programming center, more resources for governments, businesses, and the public are available to identify and mitigate cybersecurity threats.

"We've created a situation where a a bunch of people who normally would go into the office and work in relatively controlled networks are now at home," says the University of Dayton's Director for the Center for Cybersecurity and Data Intelligence (CCDI).

CCDI's David Salisbury says employees think they're fine. " 'My employer doesn't know a lot about what's on my machine and if I'm keeping my antivirus up-to-date and my software patches up-to-date and things like that.' "

But with COVID-19 that threat is growing. Salisbury's been watching how many labs working on vaccines are being attacked looking for intellectual property.

Forbes reports there are 40,000 high-risk threats on the web.

But there are resources. CCDI Director of Research Rusty Baldwin says UD is providing businesses, government and individuals with help to determine threats. It's making some curriculum available to small businesses and government agencies.

For Small Business And Government Agencies

"There's always budget pressure," Baldwin. "So part of what we want to do is roll out things that we can make generally available to them for the awareness, agency and action of things they can do to reduce their risk." 

For The Public

CCDI has developed materials for "cyber mindfulness." Salisbury says, "We try to get people into that middle ground between oblivious and paralyzing fear they have to be concerned about. But there are things (they) can do."

He also has metrics on how people think using UD's controlled virtual environment. And how better to protect them.

For Students

A recent survey found thousands of cyber jobs go unfilled.Ohio is 7,000 workers short and UD is developing programs to respond to that. A survey of area businesses found new hires have to be trained from the ground up since they haven't worked in a cyber operations center before.

CCDI has developed a simulated cyber operations center and is running students through it so they will be better prepared.

The center recently got a grant from the state of more than $277,000 in cybersecurity incentive funding. As a regional center it will work in collaboration with the Ohio Cyber Range Institute based at the University of Cincinnati.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.