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Michele Maasberg

Michele Maasberg
Naval Academy Graduate Makes Waves in UTSA Cybersecurity

We hear about it in the media nearly every day- companies and organizations getting their databases hacked and their information breached. But did you know that a large number of these incidents are perpetrated by people you would likely trust?

Known as an insider threat, this type of behavior can put organizational data, systems, and even business viability at risk. Insiders can include such people as business partners, clients, and even current and former employees.

Helping to understand what goes on in the mind of an insider is Michele Maasberg, a doctoral candidate studying cybersecurity at UTSA. For the past few years, Maasberg has been conducting insider threat behavioral research with advisors Dr. Nicole Beebe and Dr. John Warren.

“There are different motives behind the malicious insider threat incidents,” says Michele, a former navy helicopter pilot and graduate of the United States Naval Academy. “Financial gain and revenge are common, but there are many others, such as competitive advantage, ideology, political, curiosity, thrill, and so forth.”

Using the Dark Triad, a group of personality traits consisting of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, Michele is developing a model to help recognize these insiders in the workforce.

“We want to better understand how the mind of insiders work, in order to improve insider threat detection and prevention,” says Michele, who has presented her research at several high caliber information technology conferences.

For Michele, she is thankful to the Nancy and Frank Kudla Endowed Fellowship in Information Assurance and Security for allowing her to pursue her passion in cybersecurity. The prestigious and competitive graduate fellowship was established through the generosity of UTSA alumni Nancy Kudla M.B.A ’87, and Frank Kudla ’85. Their $500,000 gift supports graduate student research and education at the nation’s number one cybersecurity program. 

“I could not have not done this without the support of Frank and Nancy Kudla,” says Michele.  “Earning a PhD is a full-time job, and their support enabled me to focus on my research and present it across the country. They are really making a difference for me and UTSA.”

Give now to support graduate students like Michele who provides an important contribution to the future.

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