Tulsa Cyber District in the works to fight online crime

Published: 01/10/2019, 6:43 PM
Edited: 01/10/2019, 6:45 PM

(TULSA, Okla.) Private and public organizations are working together in hopes of creating the Tulsa Cyber District. The goal of the ambitious project is to better protect nations, businesses and citizens from the growing threat of cyber warfare.

At a meeting Monday, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak Doak, University of Tulsa President Gerard P. Clancy, U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern and Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum discussed the vision. More than two dozen insurance industry and civic leaders were also in attendance.

“A cyberattack is one of our country’s biggest threats,” said Doak. “Foreign governments, rogue hackers and terrorists are determined to compromise our military, financial, energy and health sectors. The University of Tulsa, which is well known for its cybersecurity excellence, is the perfect choice to lead this endeavor. I support Governor-elect Kevin Stitt’s goal to make Oklahoma a top 10 state, and this will put us on a global list.”  

The proposal asks for the creation of a Tulsa Enterprise for Cyber Innovation, Talent and Entrepreneurship (TECITE). It allows industry, federal agencies and the University of Tulsa (TU) to work together to defend information systems.

“TU faculty and students have been researching cybersecurity for nearly as long as the issue has been a concern,” said Dr. Clancy. “It makes sense financially that a Tulsa Cyber District be established as quickly as possible to meet the growing needs of businesses and organizations; it makes sense academically that the district be anchored by the University of Tulsa which is best positioned to deliver the expertise necessary to start strong and continuously elevate its capabilities. We are grateful to Commissioner Doak for his leadership as we advance our plans for a world-class cybersecurity training and innovation center in Tulsa. The insurance industry will be the latest field to benefit from all that Tulsa and TU bring to the table to protect critical information.”

The proposal includes four cyber centers of excellence; an Engineering Research Center funded by the National Science Foundation, a Multi-Federal Agency Cybersecurity Center for Excellence, a Cybersecurity Insurance Institute and a Consortium of Business Sectors. All four centers would be located along Tulsa’s 6th Street Opportunity Zone Corridor linking downtown Tulsa with the University of Tulsa.

“There’s no greater buzzword right now than cybersecurity,” said Rep. Hern. “Everyone knows it’s a problem. Everyone knows we need to fix it.”

“The potential impact of making Tulsa the hub for cybersecurity research, defense and training is exciting,” said Mike Neal, Tulsa Regional Chamber CEO. “Not only will it help protect businesses from cybercrimes, but it will also create new Tulsa-based startups in cyber-related industries. This is a win-win for the city of Tulsa.”

Insurance Commissioner-elect Glen Mulready said the Cybersecurity Insurance Institute will address some of the biggest problems insurers have faced in regards to cyberattacks.

“Winning the war on cybercrime requires research, innovation, entrepreneurship and a capable workforce,” said Mulready. “This bold initiative includes all those key elements. This is a big step in the right direction.”

“In order to effectively combat and remediate against existing and emerging cyber threats, there has to be an ongoing open dialogue among the public and private sectors so as to untie the needs of profit-making enterprises and entities that serve the public at large,” said Elissa Doroff, vice president, underwriting and product manager for technology and cyber liability at XL Catlin.

“We need to pool our resources and become more efficient at sharing knowledge for the greater good. The University of Tulsa is uniquely positioned to advance these efforts having been at the forefront of cybersecurity research and education for almost 15 years and sending a significant number of graduates to work in high profile cyber security roles,” said Doroff.

The University of Tulsa has programs on campus supported by the National Security Administration (NSA), the Secret Service, the U.S. Department of Defense, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Energy. It has been named a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by the NSA.


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