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ASU research center, Allstate partner to address cybersecurity challenges

ASU research center, Allstate partner to address cybersecurity challenges

Above: The ASU team working with Allstate Insurance to improve cybersecurity includes (left to right) Todd Hardy, Stephen Yau, Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, Gail-Joon Ahn, Jamie Winterton and Nadya Bliss.


Arizona State University’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics (CDF) is partnering with Allstate Insurance to address digital security challenges by advancing cybersecurity research, education and entrepreneurship.

As the founding, platinum-level member and industry partner of CDF, Allstate Insurance will pledge $1.5 million over three years to support scholarship, student fellowships and competitions related to cybersecurity and digital forensics. In return, it will receive assistance in sourcing ASU students for internships, opportunities to partake in CDF-sponsored events, and office space at SkySong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center.

“In addition to managing sensitive and valuable data, Allstate is also arming itself against potential risks that might accompany emerging cyber-related technologies, including smart vehicles and home automation,” said Gail-Joon Ahn, director of the center and professor at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, who will be leading the partnership. “Allstate’s partnership with the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics will help identify and understand potential risks to help the insurance company continue to provide excellent service and fulfill its business goals.”

“Allstate provides innovative protection and retirement solutions to more than 16 million households across the country. We are also committed to the protection of confidential information,” said Paul Black, director of security engineering and operations at Allstate Insurance Company. “Our partnership with ASU aligns perfectly with our goals; to keep ahead of evolving cyber threats and constantly deploy innovative methods to protect our valuable information assets. We’re excited to collaborate with ASU to share cutting-edge academic research and apply what we learn to real-time corporate issues.”

The partnership is expected to be the first of many that will link the center to industry, university and government entities that will play a vital role in producing a skillful workforce in the area of national security and contribute to economic growth.

To extend the impact of ASU cybersecurity and digital forensics research even further, CDF also aims to promote commercialization and technology transfer activities to advance innovation and entrepreneurial activities in the field.

“This partnership fits perfectly with the center’s mission, bringing together expertise from private industry and academia, and giving students an opportunity to get hands-on experience. I look forward to working with Allstate to continue to establish the Valley as a leader in cybersecurity research, entrepreneurship and education,” said Nadya Bliss, director of the Global Security Initiative that houses CDF.

The Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics focuses on three pillars — education, research and innovation — to help produce an outstanding workforce in the area of national security. It tackles short-term and long-term security challenges via top-notch research expertise and activities; and significantly contributes to economic growth in Arizona and the U.S. by transferring innovative and patented technologies to the marketplace.

Along with Ahn and Bliss, leaders of the collaborative research project with Allstate are: Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, executive vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development at ASU; Stephen Yau, a professor the School of Computing, Informatics, and Decision Systems Engineering within the Fulton Schools of Engineering, who led work to establish several information assurance programs in computer science; Jamie Winterton, director of strategic research initiatives at Global Security Initiative, who leads cybersecurity strategy for the initiative; and Todd Hardy, senior economic development adviser for Knowledge Enterprise Development. Bliss and Panchanathan are also Fulton Schools of Engineering faculty members.

Learn more about ASU’s Global Security Initiative and the Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics at globalsecurity.asu.edu. For further information, contact Gail-Joon Ahn, director, Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics.

The Allstate Corporation is the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, protecting approximately 16 million households from life’s uncertainties through auto, home, life and other insurance offered through its Allstate, Esurance, Encompass and Answer Financial brand names.

Written by Iti Agnihorti, ASU Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, iti.agnihotri@asu.edu

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