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Nine New Jersey Universities Team Up in “Big Data” Coalition

Rutgers Was Recently Embarrassed by Devastating Cyber Attacks
NJBDA
Nine NJ universities make up the NJ Big Data Alliance NJBDA

NEW BRUNSWICK—Since Dyn, an Internet performance management company, was notably struck with the largest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack of 2016, universities and industries around the country have clamored down on their cyber defenses.

Experts foresee these types of attacks, which can target public bank accounts or make it difficult to access important internal information, becoming more common.

With this in mind, as well as making educational tools readily available to a wide array of students and faculty throughout the Garden State, the New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA) with the recent addition of the College of New Jersey has now established itself as a driving force behind building up the cyberinfrastructure of NJ.

Rutgers, for one, is no stranger to these types of attacks. In 2015, the FBI  began to look into a string of DDoS attacks against the school, which lasted for three days in March.

That attack and others like it crippled major parts of the school's network, preventing students and faculty from accessing several online learning sites such as Sakai and Blackboard, and rendering on-campus WiFi broken or abnormally slow.

Rutgers reportedly cited "$3 million worth of network upgrades” as one of the reasons it increased tuition during the smmer of 2015.  Students were upset about the tuition increase considering the univeristy still continued to experience network attacks.

In its subsequent efforts to bolster their cybersecurity, the school joined NJBDA.

In addition to Rutgers, the NJSBA brings together Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Kean University, Rowan University, St. Peter's University, Stockton University, Stevens Institute of Technology, in order to "build capabilities in advanced computing and big data for [NJ]."

"The fact that the Alliance members proactively created this organization to increase access to advanced cyberinfrastructure technologies and big data expertise by academia, industry and government demonstrates the commitment that we have to establish New Jersey as a leader in this field," said Dr. Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, Rutgers Associate Vice President for Economic Development and a founder of the NJBDA. 

A 2014 law designated the NJBDA the State’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Consortium.

However, the State Assembly is currently evaluating proposed bill A-2075, which would allow the NJBDA, State Office of Information Technology and Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute into creating a state cyberinfrastructure plan.

Still, with the progress made thus far Liz Rowe, Chief Data Officer for the State of New Jersey, says the NJBDA has established itself as a model for the potential of these types of partnerships.

“The close collaboration between academia, industry, and government on this effort will not only advance cyberinfrastructure in the State,” added Rowe, “but also create and fortify the connections needed to develop and deploy the common standards and practices required to enable predictive and prescriptive analytics across multiple disciplines, while ensuring privacy and security of the data.”

The organization is currently sprucing up an industry affiliate program to engage new business partners. Dr. Rashmi Jain, Chair and Professor, Department of Information Management and Business Analytics at Montclair State University, says this is key in the NJBDA’s future.

“We are working closely with the industry partners, several of whom sponsored and participated in the third symposium hosted at Montclair State University last year,” said the professor. 

Most recently, the NJBDA and other NJ organizations invited the public to attend CourtHack 2.0 - a 30-hour hackathon to benefit the administration of justice.

The event was held in New Brunswick at Rutgers' New Jersey Law Center on April 22-23 and brought together legal minds, technologists, entrepreneurs, as well as expert mentors.