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Michael Corn joins Univ information security

Published: October 4, 2013
Section: News, Top Stories


It was announced last week that Michael Corn has joined Brandeis staff as Chief Information Security and Privacy Officer and Deputy CIO. Corn will begin at Brandeis on Nov. 11. While he describes his education as a “train of thought (that) took the scenic route,” Corn will now be responsible for various tasks, from handling attacks on Brandeis’ open internet network to educating students on privacy issues.

John Unsworth, Vice Provost, University Librarian and Chief Information Officer, was influential in the hiring of Corn. In an email sent to students, faculty and staff, Unsworth praised Corn’s varied background.

“At Brandeis, we like to say that other schools talk about interdisciplinarity, but we live it; in addition to his background in IT and security, and his many professional certifications, Mike Corn originally trained as a musicologist,” Corn said in the email. “We are very pleased to welcome him to Brandeis, where we are certain that he will make a difference.”

In an interview with The Hoot this week, Unsworth stated that he himself studied multiple disciplines. He teaches courses in the English department, and is currently in the works of proposing an article for next semester.

“I also worked as an RA and TA in the astronomy department (and was a telescope operator on Manua Kea one summer),” said Corn, continuing to detail his academic career. Corn began working as the Chief Information Security Officer at the Champaign-Urbana campus of the University of Illinois in late 2003.

“I’m very active both locally and nationally in security and privacy … for the last few years I’ve been deeply involved in cloud service offerings, initially with an eye toward security and privacy, but more recently I’ve become quite evangelical about cloud offerings and how they represent both a challenge and an opportunity for higher education,” said Corn.

Unsworth reports that the position Corn will fill is technically a position that existed in the past, though it has remained vacant for two years. “I have tweaked the position to add the privacy piece,” said Unsworth.

This aspect of the position is rather unusual, stated Unsworth. “Students need to know more about this, it will be more aimed at the individual, we will be looking for teachable moments,” he said.

In addition to informing students about their right to keep information privy, Corn’s job will also involve defending the campus from attacks. “This campus, like any university campus, is being probed and hacked many times an hour and we do many things to defend from that,” said Unsworth. “This kind of activity has gone up in the last couple of years, there is a lot of computing power on college campuses and they are pretty open because they have to be.”

Corn agrees that this will be a key aspect of his job, and relates to why he wants to work in a university setting. “The evolution of technology has brought so many nuanced security and privacy issues to the forefront of our national dialog. I can think of very few places where these critical issues can receive the deliberate and thoughtful investigation they deserve. Universities are the crucible that forges the intellectual vanguard for that conversation.”

Corn is excited to begin working at Brandeis. “Brandeis represents to me personally an opportunity to become much more deeply engaged in the academic mission of the institution. Most organizations are really driven by the networks of relationships that develop between members of the community. I’m very excited by forming that new network at Brandeis,” he said.