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Dr. Donald Rebovich,
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Utica University
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UC Professor Speaks Out on Cyber Terror, Sony Hack

Historic, Frightening Time for Corporations, Governments

Written By Christine Leogrande

Expert on cybersecurity speaks on recent hack, aftermath


Utica, NY (12/18/2014)
- “The North Korean attack on Sony Pictures is ground-breaking,” said Austen Givens, professor of practice in cybersecurity and homeland security at Utica College. “I believe that this incident represents the first successful major cyberterrorist attack in world history, with myriad implications for corporate and international political concerns.”

Amid veiled threats, major theater chains canceled plans to show “The Interview,” a fictional comedy produced by Sony Pictures which was set to be released on Christmas Day. The far-fetched plot involves the assassination of the leader of North Korea. The studio subsequently canceled release of the film indefinitely.

“We’ve been saying for years that the battlefield is changing from guns and tanks to keyboards and computer screens. A successful attack like this – costing millions if not billions of dollars and virtually controlling the actions of an international corporation - is just the beginning of a new reality in security,” said Givens.

Givens, an expert on counterterrorism and emergency management, is the co-author of “The Business of Counterterrorism: Public-Private Partnerships in Homeland Security,” which highlights the increasingly powerful influence of businesses in functions ranging from disaster management to cybersecurity. His articles have appeared in The International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection, The Journal of Strategic Security, Emergency Management Magazine and The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Givens has worked with the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Virginia Fusion Center. He holds a master’s degree in homeland security and emergency preparedness from Virginia Commonwealth University, and is completing his Ph.D. in public policy at King's College, London. Givens studied international relations in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics at the University of Virginia.

He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on critical infrastructure protection, homeland security, counterterrorism, emergency management, cyber incident management, and network security at Utica College.

Utica College is home to an internationally respected suite of economic crime, cybersecurity and justice studies programs, taught by a remarkably accomplished professional faculty, using the industry's most current tools and techniques. Students have access to advanced technologies available in the college's state-of-the-art Economic Crime, Justice Studies and Cybersecurity facility.

The college was recently designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Education (CAE IA/CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The college has also earned designation as a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3).

As a pioneer in economic crime and cyber programs, Utica College is home to the Economic Crime and Cybersecurity Institute, the Northeast Cyber Forensic Center, and the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection (CIMIP), which has garnered national attention for its landmark study of perpetrators of ID theft.

Utica College is one of only a handful of colleges to offer a master’s program in specialized cybersecurity. The college recently added a third specialization option, cyber operations, for students in the master’s program to address the needs that are critical to intelligence, military, national defense, corporate and law enforcement organizations. Other specializations in the Utica College program include computer forensics and intelligence, and are offered online with residencies at the Utica campus.

"The North Korean attack on Sony Pictures further demonstrates the importance of top-quality education for tomorrow's cybersecurity professionals. At Utica College, we prepare future cybersecurity leaders to defend against threats like the North Korean attack on Sony Pictures. Our graduates are ready right now to supply corporations and government agencies with the cybersecurity expertise that they urgently need,” said Givens.

For more information about cybersecurity programs at Utica College, visit

About Utica College – Utica College, founded in 1946, is a comprehensive private institution offering bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. The College, located in upstate central New York, approximately 90 miles west of Albany and 50 miles east of Syracuse, currently enrolls over 4,000 students in 36 undergraduate majors, 27 minors, 21 graduate programs and a number of pre-professional and special programs.