Computer Science Major Harshita Kalbhor Wins 2024 Gordon Prize in Managing Cybersecurity Resources

Kalbhor was recognized for her paper on securing national critical infrastructure.
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University of Maryland sophomore Harshita Kalbhor, a computer science major and astronomy minor, is the 2024 recipient of the Honors College’s Gordon Prize in Managing Cybersecurity Resources. Kalbhor was honored for her paper, "From Private Ownership to Public Risk: Securing National Critical Infrastructure," which discusses the challenges of protecting vital national assets primarily controlled by private entities. Kalbhor will be recognized at the Honors College Citation Ceremony scheduled for Friday, April 26, in the Memorial Chapel. 

Established in 2008, the Gordon Prize is an endowed award created through a donation by Dr. Lawrence A. Gordon of the Robert H. Smith School of Business. It aims to encourage innovative and diverse approaches to managing cybersecurity resources. Winners receive a $1,000 prize for their contributions to the field.

“I am thrilled that my paper has been honored with this prestigious award,” Kalbhor said. “This paper represents months of dedicated research and passionate advocacy for a topic that sits at the nexus of public safety and strategic defense investments.”

Kalbhor developed her research interests within the ACES program, which offers rigorous cybersecurity courses. Her work explores the intersection of cybersecurity with politics, private sector development and critical infrastructure. In her paper, Kalbhor emphasizes the need for comprehensive strategies that map dependencies and assess potential attack surfaces. These strategies are crucial for minimizing vulnerabilities and enhancing strategic defense mechanisms to protect vital systems.

Her work is particularly timely, given the increasing reliance on digital infrastructure and the growing threats to its security.

“My paper represents not just a culmination of academic effort but a sincere dedication to advancing discussions and solutions in the realm of cybersecurity and national defense,” Kalbhor said. “Winning this award inspires me to continue pushing boundaries and advocating for robust policies safeguarding our vital infrastructure.”

In the future, Kalbhor plans to expand her focus to the aerospace sector, where integrating cybersecurity with policy is increasingly critical.

“As the cybersecurity and aerospace fields experience rapid growth, developing a unified language and framework to address cyber risks and their impact on technological advancements becomes imperative,” Kalbhor shared. “By fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and understanding interdependencies between sectors, we can craft informed policies that drive innovation while ensuring resilience against cyber threats. The future demands thoughtful, well-informed decisions and I am eager to contribute to shaping this path forward.”

—Story by Samuel Malede Zewdu, CS Communications 

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