Big Ten universities start cybersecurity center at Indiana University
Source: Victoria Heath/ Unsplash

Five of the United States’ Big Ten Academic Alliance universities have collaborated to fend off cyber threats in what they’ve called a ‘first of its kind’ operation.

OmniSOC at Indiana University (IU) will protect the thousands of staff and students from IU Northwestern University, Purdue University, Rutgers University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Based on the principle of “safety in numbers”, the center will provide 24/7 monitoring of potential threats and data sharing on behalf of all the campuses.

OmniSOC Executive Director Tom Davis said: “With tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff, university campuses are really like small cities, with sensitive data and powerful computing systems that are coveted by cyber criminals.”

It will leverage the expertise of the Global Research Network Operations Center at IU, which has provided cybersecurity services to government, research and education networks across the US.

“With the ever increasing volume, sophistication and potential damage of cybersecurity attacks, the CIOs of the Big Ten universities recognised that we had to depart from the historic emphasis on local protection, identification and response,” said Sean Reynolds, vice president for technology and chief information officer at Northwestern in a statement.

“Information security in this new environment requires many layers of protection within our campus environment, at our campus borders and with partners beyond campus.”

Greg Hedrick, chief information security officer at Purdue University said: “Higher education is for the most part an open environment, so we often see cyber crimes that others have not.”

“By allowing us to monitor across higher education, OmniSOC helps to improve our capabilities to identify and react more quickly to these bad actors. My hope is that this information can be shared with others outside of our community in order to protect the entire ecosystem,” Hedrick said.

OmniSOC plans to expand membership in the years to come beyond the Big Ten as it scales up services.

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