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Life experience prompts grad student to study cyber

April 24, 2019

After Thuy Lam found herself a victim of cybercrime, she decided to be proactive.

“After someone had used my social media and bank accounts, and emails,” she said, “I felt like I was always in waiting mode, waiting for someone ... to let me know that my accounts were hacked.”

She hated that feeling of the unknown and being unaware, so the Fountain Valley, Calif. resident “decided to go back to school simply because I wanted to learn what I don't know…with the hope that I can protect myself and others going forward.”

A google search named Dakota State University as one of the best schools for an online cyber degree, and Lam is now working towards her Ph.D. in cyber operations. Lam has a family and a full-time job as a senior programmer for the Orange County Water District, which can make it a challenge to find time to study, but she finds the field very addicting, more like a hobby or video game than quiet study time.

“I enjoy exploring thousands of lines of script, even scripting languages that I am not familiar with,” Lam said. While it can “feel like finding a needle in a haystack, it is interesting enough to get me continue going down the path.”

She recently presented results from her first research paper at the 3rd International Conference on Information Systems and Data Mining (ICISDM 2019) held at the University of Houston (Texas) on April 6-8. For her paper, titled “PhAttApp:A Phishing Attack Detection Application,” she earned the “Best Paper Presentation” award.

Her graduate advisor, Dr. Houssain Kettani, professor of computer science in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, encouraged her throughout the whole process. With his support, “I am now confident that can I go further and complete my research,” said Lam.

Her plans after graduation are yet to be determined, but will involve technology.

“It just seems logical to me to study and explore the cyber field, especially when it is a growing career field due to the many cyber events that happen daily,” said Lam.