CHARLESTON, W.Va. — From refining your writing skills to learning about the history of the Capital City, the launch of a new speaker series is filling up the schedule of events at West Virginia State University’s newest downtown Charleston hub.

Safeguarding your Digital World, presented by Dr. Ali Alsinayyad, Director of WVSU’s Cybersecurity Innovation Center, made the third presentation Wednesday during the ongoing weekly Lunch and Learn series at WVSU Center for Public Leadership on Capitol Street.

Alsinayyad told MetroNews that he was trying to make Wednesday’s lecture as easy to understand for the average person as possible, as cybersecurity is something that’s really important, yet no one seems to care much about it.

“I’m trying to make it as less technical as it should be so I can make this awareness for all of the population if that’s possible of West Virginia,” said Alsinayyad.

He said many take it for granted that their data is safe and they don’t have to worry about being hacked, but he said that’s simply not the case.

Alsinayyad said the U.S. is under cybersecurity threats every minute, not just everyday. He said this is because we live in a very digital world here in America, with the majority of people using cell phones, mobile devices and computers.

In addition, Alsinayyad said hackers are constantly after our data here, because they feel like they can get some money out of it.

“Our data is valuable because it’s always related to some financial prospect, so for that reason the attackers find it really attractive to get attacked,” he said.

WVSU opened the new Cybersecurity Innovation Center late last year, and Alsinayyad said since then, they have made much progress in its development.

He said so far, they have about a total of 39 students enrolled in the minor of Cybersecurity, and within a few months some of his grad students published three research articles relating to cybersecurity innovation.

Along with that, Alsinayyad said they have a laboratory of cybersecurity that consists of the Cyber Hive, which is essentially a cybersecurity wall that mimics a water treatment plant and chemical a treatment plant. He said students are currently using this as an important learning tool.

“Right now I’m teaching my students how to hack it and then how to defend it, mostly how to defend it, because, you know, if you want to defend something you must know what is the attacking strategy,” he said.

He said they are also expecting the second half of a joint grant of $500,000 with Marshall University to advance cybersecurity infrastructure.

Alsinayyad said their goal is to put WVSU’s Cybersecurity Center on the map in regards to the future of innovation in cybersecurity.

The weekly speaker series at WVSU Center will run each Wednesday from noon until 1 p.m. It began Jan. 24 and will continue through March 6.

The following is the next upcoming presentations scheduled to be held at the center:

· Feb. 14 — What Read Aloud Does for Reading, presented by Dawn Miller, Executive Director, Read Aloud West Virginia;

· Feb. 21 — Writing to Learn: Discovering, Meaning, and Understanding, presented by Dr. Robert Wallace, Dean, WVSU College of Arts and Humanities;

· Feb. 28 — Why Capitol Street Has Its Name: A History of Our Capital City, presented by Dr. Billy Joe Peyton, Retired WVSU Professor of History; and

· March 6 — Self-Care for Social Workers, presented by Crystal Price, MSW, LICSW, Mount Care Network, Clinical Director.

The series is free for the public to attend. Audience members are encouraged to bring a lunch and learn more about the topics being discussed. Light refreshments will be available on site.