Farmingdale State College’s new—and first—Chief Information Security Officer, Pete Grizzaffi, came to the College in March 2020, three days before the campus shut down due to the pandemic. Grizzaffi suddenly was tasked with moving FSC’s classes and business operations online.
“Changing our educational delivery model overnight was not easy, and it introduced a whole host of challenges for faculty, staff, and students, as well as for Information Technology (IT),” Grizzaffi said. “In the end, the IT team and the whole campus really stepped up and partnered closely to build out new systems and enable academic offerings that will benefit us for years to come.”
All of that access, though, means more vulnerability. The College’s network security system fends off thousands of attacks daily, and more than a million annually. FSC has a strong cybersecurity system and is constantly assessing it, Grizzaffi said. FSC periodically enlists “white hat hackers”—ethical hackers who test the network for weaknesses.
But the threats are constantly changing. “Hackers are not just one person in a basement; now there are countries and organizations who are dedicated to breaching networks,” said Grizzaffi. Hackers can buy malicious programs and even access help desks to assist them in deploying viruses, malware, or ransomware. “The level of sophistication is amazing,” he added. “It’s becoming more necessary to upgrade our defenses. We need to ensure that every year we have a better system.”