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Students Hone Cyberdefense Skills in New Security Operations Center

In the SOC, Katz School students are getting practical experience defending against cyberattacks in hyper-realistic simulations.

The Katz School of Science and Health has launched an advanced Security Operations Center (SOC) that is providing graduate students in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, computer science and data analytics with hands-on experience defending against cyberattacks in a hyper-realistic simulated environment.

“This Security Operations Center—this really incredible space—is going to be important not just for our university but the entire community,” said Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, “and it’s all due to the amazing vision of our academic leadership.”

Located on the Beren Campus in Midtown Manhattan, the Security Operations Center and cyber range—a high-fidelity clone of a real-life network system under a simulated cyberattack—was dedicated on March 8 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony co-sponsored by the New York State Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Israeli Economic Mission to the United States.

In addition to President Berman, the launch was attended by Selma Botman, provost of Yeshiva University; Paul Russo, vice provost and dean of the Katz School; Anat Katz, Israeli economic minister; Asaf Zamir, consul general of Israel in New York; and Daria Siegel, vice president for special initiatives at NYCEDC.

Developed in partnership with Cyberbit, provider of a leading cybersecurity skills development platform, the Security Operations Center uses Cyberbit’s advanced cyber range as a training ground, giving students and researchers unprecedented access to threat scenarios where they can find weak links in computer systems before criminals can exploit them, and defend against hackers during live-fire attacks by leveraging the same networks, firewalls and proxies they will find in a corporate environment. The Katz School plans to open the Security Operations Center at some point to local businesses and nonprofits that lack dedicated security teams of their own.

“This is the first such center in New York City and one indication of the blossoming of the Katz School,” said Dr. Botman. “The Security Operations Center is particularly important because it will train students in the latest technology.”

At the March 8 ceremony, the winners of the school’s first live-fire hackathon, held in the SOC earlier that day, were also announced. Cybersecurity students Israel Pomerantz, Motty Zisovitch, Jacob Grosh and Binyomin Weiner from the Sara Schenirer Institute Men’s Division won the competition, which featured a reverse-engineered real-world attack.

“Our students are getting the opportunity to experience what it means to be a security analyst,” said Sivan Tehila, director of the M.S. in Cybersecurity. “As a manager, it’s a huge advantage to hire someone who understands what it means to work in a Security Operations Center.”

The Katz School has 70 students enrolled in its top-ranked cybersecurity master’s program, which was launched four years ago. With the opening of the Security Operations Center, Dean Russo expects enrollment to more than double.

“Our mission is to meet the needs of industry for next-generation cybersecurity experts who will secure our nation’s critical infrastructure,” he said. “The Security Operations Center provides the experience that chief information security officers in every industry are seeking, and very few programs provide this level of real-world training."