Cyber research gets name recognition. One of West Point’s oldest research centers redesignated for its critical cyber mission
One of West Point’s oldest research centers was re-designated Monday as the Cyber Research Center, coinciding with a promotion ceremony for its director.
Formerly the Information Technology and Operations Center, the newly-recognized Cyber Research Center and Col. Gregory Conti were recognized in a ceremony at Herbert Hall with about 60 guests in attendance.
As the CRC director and associate professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Conti said this is the era of the cyber warrior and it reflects the country’s current needs.
“Our nation is the most technologically advanced and the most technologically dependant on the face of the earth,” he said. “This brings great promise and great peril … from lone malicious hackers, to online criminals and nation states wishing to do us harm. In recognition of this, the Department of Defense has recognized cyberspace as an operational domain alongside land, air, sea and space.”
Since its establishment in 1985, the center transitioned from the domain of artificial intelligence to informational security.
In the fall of 2011, the Dean of the Academic Board Brig. Gen. Timothy Trainor approved the redesignation to better communicate this mission and to align with DOD initiatives including the formation of the U.S. Cyber Command and Army Cyber Command.
“We want to leverage our intellectual capital on behalf of the Army and the nation, and enrich our educational program here,” Conti said. “It’s going to take an interdisciplinary team … and we want to cross those disciplinary boundries.”
Cyber is truly a team sport, Conti said, and he listed the contributions of staff, faculty and cadets over the years, to include Col. Ron Dodge and Col. Daniel Ragsdale, two of the center’s most distinguished leaders.
Ragsdale sponsored the creation of the Cadet Cyber Security Club and co-founded the national Cyber Defense Exercise, in partnership with the National Security Agency. West Point teams have claimed the annual trophy more times than all other service academies combined, and will defend the title again in mid-April.
Lt. Gen. Rhett Hernandez presided over the promotion ceremony for Conti, whom he called “the ultimate cyber warrior” for possessing the four words that title encompasses—elite, trusted, precise and disciplined.
“I don’t use those words lightly; our nation will require cyber warriors like Greg. He’s a quiet and competent professional who doesn’t look for credit but looks to solve our toughest problems,” Hernandez, who commissioned from West Point in 1976 as an artillery officer, said. “He’s a strategic cyber asset and, in many ways, a national resource.”
Since assuming the directorship in 2007, Conti has led the center in creating links with industry, government, academic, non-profit and military partners in the cyber community.
The CRC focuses on cyber warfare, cyber security education, security data visualization, secure and usable interface design and online privacy.
“With the work he’s doing here, he is instrumental in both shaping our future leaders and serving as a catalyst for change as we mature the Department of Defense’s newest domain—cyberspace,” Hernandez added.