September 7, 2018
The Texas A&M University System’s Security Operations Center works to protect the System from an estimated 1 million attempted cyberattacks per month, according to a three-minute video made available Wednesday that outlines the center’s work.
Executive director Dan Basile said his team sees and works to thwart attempts from “almost every country in the world, including the United States, China and Russia. You name a country, and we’ve probably seen an attack from it.”
Basile said an attempted cyberattack could mean a host of different things. “It could be a group trying to steal usernames and passwords. It could be trying to steal malware for research information, or trying to trick someone into giving up some of their personal information or passwords,” he said.
The A&M System posted the video, which features System Chancellor John Sharp and Basile talking about the center’s work, on YouTube.
“There are about a million attempts a month — cybersecurity hacks — trying to get into the A&M System and into research, classified research, all kinds of things like that,” Sharp said in the video.
The A&M System received the 2017 Defense Security Service Award for Excellence in Counterintelligence from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Security Service.
The SOC has a team of six full-time security analysts, two system administrators, one business administrator and 10 student technicians. The center works to detect and eradicate attempts to breach security systems at Texas A&M University, the 10 regional campuses and the System’s seven state agencies.
Basile described his team’s work as akin to solving a number of puzzles a day.
“A lot of the work is trying follow these different rabbit trails without getting distracted,” he said. “Our security operation center monitors the entire A&M system, and we look inside individuals’ networks so that the member institution can block things on their own. We’ll detect the items that have gotten past those defenses.”
Basile also said the staff works to educate system engineers, faculty, staff, information technology professionals and students throughout the university system to help people have a greater understanding of ways to shield from threats including attempts to obtain personal information.
“Our job is to support the individual and the universities, however they need that support. One of the big [goals] for the entire team is that we want to help increase the security of how we protect information at the A&M system,” Basile said.
Basile said in the system video that the SOC works with members of the A&M Corps of Cadets and is one of several teams within the A&M System working on cybersecurity.
“We are a service-based organization, and it’s our job to help out the others at the A&M system — that’s what we’re here for, to provide help,” he said.