Latvian universities work on securing IT systems

Several Latvian higher education establishments have joined forces to develop resilience and security of computer-based systems, Latvian Television reported November 9.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people work and study from home. This is a major challenge, for information technology (IT) system administrators, because these processes must be smooth and secure against hackers at the same time. 

Rīga Technical University (RTU), together with partners from Vidzeme University, the University of Latvia, Liepāja University and Rēzekne Academy of Technology, is studying how to provide sustainable and secure services in such circumstances.

“In order to be able to carry out our work duties, to learn, to get to a doctor, we need an Internet connection and we need opportunities to communicate with people. We are looking at how to ensure that such services are safe and durable, so that they will not disappear if there is some very rapid change in circumstances, and to be sure that the information we transmit on the computer networks will not go anywhere and will not reach unauthorized users,” RTU head of technology department Jānis Grabis said.

Before the pandemic, many worked in offices, and it was a relatively closed network that was inaccessible from outside. But now, working remotely, everything has changed. So far, technologies, including firewalls and antivirus, have been more suited to closed environments.

“We're trying to develop technologies that allow you to quickly identify a potentially malignant action so that you can alert users that your computer is likely to be attacked.

Our aim is to develop a variety of recommendations and techniques to predict that such a situation can arise and what to do in this situation,” explained Grabis.

This will greatly ease the work of system administrators. The work of Latvian researchers will be available to them by the end of the year.

“The end result is that by studying how to achieve the resilience and safety of services, we compile knowledge and [let them know] what techniques we have used to address safety hazards. It is compiled in the so-called master repository.

It is a structured knowledge base that contains information on how various security threats could be tackled,” Grabis said.

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