May. 22, 2017
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The Carole and Marcus Weinstein Software and Information Systems Engineering and Cyber Security Building was inaugurated last week as part of Ben-Gurion University of the Negevโ€™s 47th Board of Governors Meeting in the presence of Carole and Marcus Weinstein. The building reflects BGUโ€™s commitment to being the best in cyber security research. 

 

Prof. Bracha Shapira also became the incumbent of the new Carole Weinstein Chair in Information Systems Engineering. Shapira is head of the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering. 

 

Prof. Dan Blumberg, VP & Dean of R&D: โ€œI am so very honored to be standing here today to mark the official dedication this state-of-the-art facility that will house ground-breaking research and learning. 

 

โ€œWe live in an age that we need to consistently be ahead of the game and lead the technology race.  It is of utmost importance for us to have the tools and the environment that will allow us to proudly pioneer the information systems and cyber research fields. It is this relative advantage that placed BGU on the innovation map and in the global technology arena.  Marcus and Carole โ€“ Thank you for recognizing our need to find a home that will foster the great minds of today and tomorrow,โ€ he said. 

 

BGU President Prof. Rivka Carmi spoke to the character and passion of the Weinsteins, โ€œWhat seems like just yesterday, on November 13, 2012, I had the opportunity to meet two very special people who came to visit Ben-Gurion University during the Pillar of Defense operation. I remember wondering, what kind of people would chose to come visit a war zone with missiles falling almost without warning? Now, not even 5 years later, Marcus and Carole, you have become pillars of our community and dear friends of mine. 

 

โ€œMarcus and Carole Weinstein come from Richmond, VA, the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and a city rich with history, culture and personality. What strikes me most every time I visit is how Marcus and Carole have contributed and made a difference in their hometown and the surrounding region. Together they have introduced me to the University of Richmond, the Virginia Holocaust Museum, the Virginia Historical Society and the Weinstein JCC, all institutions that are better today thanks to the passion and perseverance of these two very special people. It is this same passion and perseverance now shaping Ben-Gurion University as we see today.โ€ 

 

Turning to the nature of the cyber threat, Carmi remarked, โ€œThis is a battle of wits fought with lines of code in an ever-expanding cyberspace. Despite its virtual nature, the threat to physical systems remains very real. Unless they are protected, basic life-sustaining infrastructures, such as electricity, water and transportation โ€“ are susceptible to devastating attacks. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is at the forefront of this battle, bringing together academic expertise, professional experience and the enthusiasm, drive and passion of our researchers and students in an environment that encourages innovation while developing real solutions.โ€ 

 

โ€œFor research to develop and bear fruit and for our students to succeed at the highest possible level we need excellent people at the helm,โ€ Carmi said, โ€œProf. Bracha Shapira is an excellent scientist whose accomplishments to date are outstanding. With her as head of the department, BGU was the first university in Israel to introduce cyber study tracks for undergraduate and graduate students, attracting the best and brightest students and researchers from around the world.โ€ 

 

Prof. Shapira, โ€œI am standing here in front of this beautiful building and this is one of those moments in life when one feels that dreams really do come true.  I can already imagine this building coming to life with students taking classes in the state-of-the-art teaching labs and faculty and research students doing research in the offices and labs and making them cozy, hanging pictures on the walls and growing plants. This great facility is where fantastic research will happen and knowledge will be acquired, with the goal of protecting the world and making it a better place to live. 

 

โ€œThis is of course thanks to you Carole and Marcus. Thank you to for your generosity, your vision and your care for this university.  You will have a part in every significant research that we will conduct here and in every success story,โ€ she declared. 

 

โ€œThis building is of great importance to the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering,โ€ Shapira explained, โ€œThe Department is expanding constantly.   Next year, we have five new young faculty members joining us, arriving after spending time as post-docs at the most prestigious universities in the United States. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to offer them nice offices and labs where they can continue their research together with tenured faculty members. We are also growing in the number of students: we currently have more than 600 undergraduate students that will use the labs in this building, including the unique cyber teaching lab. We have 140 research students that are doing research in various fields, mainly cyber security, artificial intelligence, and other aspects of information systems with various application domains such as health, finance, and education.โ€ 

 

Carole Weinstein noted that she has been a โ€œtech junkieโ€ for years, so the buildingโ€™s purpose was close to her interests. 

 

Turning to the importance of the research to be done, she said, โ€œAll Israelis are united in cyber security.โ€ 

 

Marcus Weinstein added, โ€œThank you for providing the opportunity to invest in the State of Israel and Ben-Gurion University. When you contribute funds to education, itโ€™s not a charity, itโ€™s an investment. 

 

โ€œThis is about Tikkun Olam, trying to make the world a better place. Israel is the envy of the world because thatโ€™s where the brains are,โ€ he declared. 

 

โ€œIโ€™m 91 years old, and I want to thank the State of Israel for making this Jewish boy a first class citizen. Israel has made all 14 million Jews left in the world first class citizens,โ€ he concluded. 

 

Prof. Dan Blumberg replied to general laughter and applause, โ€œWe promise you a high ROI [Return on Investment].โ€ 

 

The Weinsteins were honored later the same day with honorary doctorates. They are members of the Presidentโ€™s Pillars and new members of the Board of Governors. Marcus Weinstein founded a successful real estate company in Virginia. 

 

The building will house a number of state-of-the-art labs. One such is Dr. Yossi Orenโ€™s Implementation Security Lab.  Dr. Oren is a senior lecturer (assistant professor) in the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and member of BGU's Cyber Security Research Centerโ€‹.  The purpose of this lab is to carry out side-channel attacks โ€“ cyber attacks that allow the extraction of secret information from various devices by exploiting their precise physical behaviors (such as power consumption, electromagnetic emanations, heat or vibrations). The research conducted in the lab will be grounded on knowledge attained as part of the EU-funded ECRYPT project and use precise measurement equipment and techniques to assess the impact of side-channel attacks by measuring the leakage of a target device, such as an IoT device, under test.  This will allow researchers to obtain an upper bound on the potential performance of attacks carried out using less sensitive measurement devices such as compromised phones or malicious aftermarket peripherals.  In addition, Dr. Oren plans to use this lab to find creative and unexpected uses for the sensors found on modern mobile phones, such as the gyroscope, touch screen, and magnetic compass. 

 

The new state-of-the-art building was designed to meet the specialized needs of the software and information systems engineering and cyber fields, which are powered by technology, information, and computers.  However, needs vary greatly among researchers, and each of the buildingโ€™s research labs requires customization.  In addition to the computer equipment which this field relies upon, the lab is equipped with sensitive measurement apparatus such as oscilloscopes, wideband receivers, and signal generators, and a designated space has been allocated for this equipment.  Other areas of the lab will be dedicated to measurement work and electronics, and the lab will include ample space for electronics, tools, and other necessary components.  The lab has a dedicated power supply and network ports, and features 24/7 air conditioning, allowing long, unattended measurements and experiments to be run remotely overnight and over long periods of time.   

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