UD, Premier team up to create cybersecurity center

Premier Health and the University of Dayton are partnering to create a center devoted to cybersecurity. In this recent file photo, Premier Health President Mark Shaker, left, listens to UD President Eric Spina. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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Premier Health and the University of Dayton are partnering to create a center devoted to cybersecurity. In this recent file photo, Premier Health President Mark Shaker, left, listens to UD President Eric Spina. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

With a gift from the area’s largest hospital system, the University of Dayton will create a new “Center for Cybersecurity & Data Intelligence,” the university said Thursday.

The lead gift — which the university called “substantial” — is from Premier Health, which is meant to enhance the “cyberhealth of the Dayton community,” an announcement from the university said.

The exact amount of Premier’s gift was not identified.

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The approximately $3 million center will be located at Miriam Hall on UD’s core campus, not at the old downtown Dayton Montgomery County fairgrounds, which UD and Premier last month pledged to work together to develop.

Though there is still some fund-raising to do, the partnership already has about two-thirds of that $3 million amount, so it’s looking to raise perhaps $1 million more, UD Chief Information Officer Thomas Skill said in an interview.

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And UD is also looking for perhaps two to three industry partners for the center in total to help underwrite the cost and develop center programming.

The center will focus on research and education, Skill said.

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“We thought what an ideal way to really engage our professional IT (information technology) staff, our academic folks, our community partners and our students, as they come in,” Skill said.

He expects the center to have a “multi-disciplinary” approach, harnessing the skills of technical staff, those who “understand human behavior,” and organizational experts. It will extend from academics to regional partners who have their own unique data protection needs, Skill said.

There will also be space for research, he said.

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“What are the new things we should be testing, evaluating and inventing that might help us better understand and protect our systems?” Skill said.

For example, health information is now one of the most sought-after online records pursued by the “bad guys,” he said.

“Stealing health information is something that allows them to do anything from being able to leverage that information in ways of allowing people to sell it and make money off of it or ways to just be able to compromise other people’s identities,” he said.

One mission of the center will be to explore best practices to fight that, helping patients “take control” of their health information in safe ways.

The center’s mission will broaden over time to focus on the needs of other partners as they come aboard, the university said.

Premier will collaborate with UD’s faculty and information technology staff to identify and test new cybersecurity practices, create education and awareness programs for employees, and share best practices with the greater Dayton community, UD’s release said.

“Thousands of University of Dayton and Premier employees come in contact with thousands of bits of electronic information daily, so you can imagine the millions of touch-points affecting most everyone in the region,” Gary Ginter, Premier Health CIO, said in an initial announcement from UD.

“While UD and Premier must continue the training of employees, it’s important that we provide understandable and attainable recommendations to the greater Dayton community for protecting their personal data, including health information,” Ginter said in that statement. “Our vision is to build awareness of the cybersecurity risks we face, ensure people understand the best ways to limit these threats, and help them take meaningful steps to protect themselves.”

Any organization interested in becoming a practice partner in the center can contact Derrick Dukes, assistant vice president for corporate relations for the University, at 937-229-4523 or ddukes1@udayton.edu, UD said..

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