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Michele Maasberg

October 7, 2015//

Meet Michele Maasberg. A doctoral candidate studying cybersecurity at UTSA, she's focusing her research on seemingly unlikely threats: those that come from insiders.

– Michele Maasberg

We hear about it in the media often: companies and organizations getting their databases hacked and their information breached. A large number of these incidents are actually perpetrated by people deemed trustworthy.

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

For the past few years, Maasberg has been conducting insider threat behavioral research with advisors Nicole Beebe and John Warren.

"There are different motives behind the malicious insider threat incidents," said Maasberg, 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."

Michele is developing a model to help recognize these insiders in the workforce. This model includes personality and behavioral traits such as the Dark Triad, a group of personality traits consisting of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, addiction, and lack of social support and resilience.

"We want to better understand how the mind of insiders work, in order to improve insider threat detection and prevention," Maasberg said.

She also has presented her research at several high caliber information technology conferences.

Maasberg 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," Maasberg said. "Earning a Ph.D. 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."

Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at social@utsa.edu so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.

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