Professor, Management Information Systems
Although he is a professor by day, Randal Vaughn could be described as a crime fighter by night-fighting electronic crime, that is.
Vaughn works in the Management Information Systems department; however, he has a statistical background-he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mathematics from Baylor.
“I think I got my start on an abacas my dad got me,” he laughed. “When I graduated, there actually weren’t many courses in computing. At the time, computing courses were offered through the physics department and the business school. I also took a computing class from the math department. I thought it was fascinating.”
While at Baylor, Vaughn completed the ROTC program and subsequently served in the Air Force. Through his work as a project engineer in the military, Vaughn became interested in cyber security.
“I’ve always been kind of a hacker,” he said. “If a computer isn’t doing what it is supposed to do, you find ways to fix it and make adjustments, which in a sense, is hacking. When I did hacking it was a good thing, though!”
Vaughn also worked in industry, programming for geophysics at Mobil Oil. After earning a PhD from the University of Texas at Arlington, he began teaching at Baylor-and he’s taught for 28 years, since the creation of the Management Information Systems department. He currently teaches Business Data Communications and Introduction to Security-Technological Factors.
“When I first came here, we were forming the department,” he said. “It was fulfilling to develop the curriculum. That’s happened several times since I’ve been here-it’s a creative process and involves working with people toward a common goal.”
Outside of academia, Vaughn serves as an organizer for the Internet Security Operations and Intelligence (ISOI) conference, which provides professionals and academics in the security operations community a chance to meet, exchange ideas and communicate about potential and on-going research. Vaughn also serves as general chair of the APWG/IEEE eCrime Researchers Summit, an annual event that brings together academic researchers, security practitioners, and law enforcement to discuss all aspects of electronic crime and ways to combat it.
“One of the great things about working in academia is that I’m still able to participate in the information security community,” he said. “Counter crime involves all sorts of disciplines-we work with psychologists, technical and non-technical people, lawyers, linguists, etc. It’s exciting but a difficult challenge-there’s nothing quite like a nice, difficult challenge!”
Vaughn’s research focuses on cyber security operations, and he recently received a grant from ESET LLC, an antivirus and security company with U.S. headquarters in San Diego, Calif. The grant encourages basic research, facilitates an information exchange between industry and academia, and allows academics the opportunity to participate in other industrially-led initiatives.
“E-crime is an ongoing process™it’s never-ending,” he said. “But I’m determined to do my part to make sure it’s more controlled.”