White Hats, Black Hats, and Grey Matter: Tackling Cybersecurity

By Gordana Goudie, Tara La Bouff, Jacqueline Nemeth, and Mike Terrazas

A secure internet and its applications are now essential to almost every aspect of our daily lives. Yet connected technology has opened the door for criminals and foreign governments to launch cyberattacks with increasing scale and impact.

Today, America’s national defense, economic prosperity, and individual freedoms depend upon cybersecurity.

As the storm of demand for cybersecurity solutions and talent grows, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers, faculty members, and students are tackling cybersecurity from multiple angles.

Black, White, and Nuances of Grey In the realm of cybersecurity, white hats are good-guy defenders and black hats are the adversaries. But it takes both to really put grey matter to work in solving one of the most vexing challenges of our time.

Few universities can approach cybersecurity with the same breadth and depth as Georgia Tech. Few have the cooperation of top-tier academic researchers, plus 500 cybersecurity engineers inside a multimillion-dollar research division that is the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), and a deep history of supporting classified military, government, and law enforcement operations.

Under this unique combination of resources and skill, Georgia Tech is creating the next wave of cybersecurity solutions. Tech’s grey hat hackers study how malicious black hats operate and adapt in order to help the white hats prepare for the next attack.

Seven units and 12 labs across Georgia Tech and GTRI are engaged in cybersecurity. With coordination by the Institute for Information Security & Privacy (IISP), faculty and students across a range of disciplines can connect to tackle new facets of the cybersecurity problem.

Look what’s underway…


Researchers at the College of Computing advance cybersecurity by uncovering devastating vulnerabilities between operating systems, hardware, and software; mobile apps; and the machine-learning algorithms that power automated decisions.

Visionary Leaders

Cybersecurity students from the Georgia Tech College of Computing The college spearheaded Georgia Tech’s entry into cybersecurity academic research in the 1990s with the launch of the Georgia Tech Information Security Center. An annual Cyber Security Summit soon followed.

Since then, Georgia Tech has consistently been one of the top universities represented by research published at the world’s most important cybersecurity conferences, and the College of Computing has led the way.

In fact, many of the Institute for Information Security & Privacy’s most influential researchers, such as Mustaque Ahamad, Taesoo Kim, Annie Antón, and Sasha Boldyreva, are based in the College’s three schools.

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and industry leaders such as Intel and Google, more than two dozen professors are working on the frontiers of cybersecurity. For example, David Bader, Polo Chau, and Le Song are developing new big data analysis algorithms for security analytics as well as new security protection for machine learning.


David A. Bader
David A. Bader
Distinguished Professor and Director of the Institute for Data Science

David A. Bader is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Computer Science at New Jersey Institute of Technology.