It is important to understand the concepts of different attacks
Magnus Almgren is an associate professor in the Networks and Systems division of Computer Science and Engineering. He is a security specialist, and encourages all students to take at least one course related to cyber security.
Why did you go into cyber security?
My interest in cyber security started in the early '90s. At this point in time, after the first major attack through the Internet worm, it started to become clear that security was, or would become, very important. However, many universities still had only a single course in cyber security (cryptography) and not the richer set of courses, touching on a range of topics, that students are offered today.
I got the opportunity to do a master’s thesis within web security at IBM Research in Switzerland, this cemented my interest and later I went to Stanford University where I worked to combine AI and cyber security.
What are you working on at the moment?
My current research focuses on critical infrastructures and how they can be attacked and protected. The challenge is the mix of features of the Internet of things (many small simple devices) with legacy systems (older systems that cannot be upgraded to the latest software). They may also be limited in their processing power and memory, meaning that some protection mechanisms that we have already developed will not work. In some cases, they also run on battery, adding yet another parameter when building efficient protection.
What will the students learn in your course?
In the Computer Security course (DIT641), we take a broad approach. The students will touch on many of the areas of modern cyber security. We discuss historical attacks, how malware have changed over the years, the importance of understanding the dynamics of security with the defenders vs the attackers, demonstrated by a simple example of using passwords to authenticate oneself to a system. The course offers an overview and a good basic set of tools that students can then develop further in the other courses offered at University of Gothenburg.
Why is security important for students?
The world is becoming increasingly digitalised and computers and their services are becoming more important. This goes both for people using the services and for attackers trying to distort our life. I would recommend all students to take a first course in security (DIT641), regardless of whether they want to work with the topic full time. It is important to understand the concepts and different types of attacks, to be able to protect oneself.
Of course, I find security very interesting, and would recommend the full security specialization that our department has put together.