FBI Dallas
Public Affairs Officers Melinda Urbina and Katie Chaumont
(972) 559-5629 / (972) 559-5699
October 26, 2022

FBI Dallas Hosts Conference for Academic Institutions

DALLAS—FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno welcomed leaders from dozens of academic institutions and related fields to discuss the future of information and cyber security, insider threats, risk management strategies, and partnership with the FBI at a conference held at Dallas FBI headquarters on Tuesday, October 25.

“U.S. higher learning institutions hold the keys to our country’s future. They have a tremendous responsibility to train our nation’s academics, protect research interests and promote scholastic success across all industries,” said SAC DeSarno. “Leadership is charged with upholding academic freedom that yields productive collaboration and must continuously evaluate security issues that could threaten the resulting intellectual property.”

Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, provided the keynote address, speaking on risks in higher education and emphasizing the need for a new way forward as institutions and government agencies address these vulnerabilities.

“We constantly deal with information and cybersecurity risks in higher education. These issues and their solutions can be extrapolated to any number of industries working to protect their intellectual assets and proprietary infrastructure,” Mitchell said. “As technology – and the world – evolves and advances, we must move ahead of the paradigms of the past and find new ways to protect the critically important research we conduct at our institutions. Innovative collaboration with partners like the FBI allows for a proactive approach of education and prevention before something happens instead of relying on arrests and prosecution after a breach has already occurred.”

SAC DeSarno explained, “Some foreign governments sponsor programs to take external knowledge and innovation back to their countries, to include stealing trade secrets, violating export control laws, or muddying conflict-of-interest policies. American universities and research institutions should remain aware of potential risks and illegal conduct to take deliberate steps to safeguard trade secrets and intellectual property.”

Panel presentations with experts from state and nationwide institutions and agencies provided context to leaders, including Chief Information Officers and Chief Information Security Officers, as well as risk management approaches for research institutions. Of particular significance, robust discussion regarding the implementation of National Security Presidential Memorandum-33 (strengthening research security) occurred.

Dr. Rebecca Keiser, Chief of Research Security Strategy and Policy, National Science Foundation said, “NSF works closely with the U.S. government and university communities to address issues regarding research security and integrity. Our capability to use big data to identify research security issues in an equitable manner will enable us to bring information to the research community so that we can jointly work to address issues in this area.”

“FBI partnerships extend beyond traditional law enforcement relationships.” SAC DeSarno continued, “increasing communication and understanding at both the academic and law enforcement levels will help universities to take proactive steps to better protect their institutions. In turn, the FBI will be better able to provide transparent and timely intelligence to our academic partners so they can make informed decisions with consideration to national security risk.”

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