Photo of Nicklaus Giacobe

Nicklaus A.

Associate Teaching Professor
E333 Westgate Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 865-8233
Additional Title(s)
Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations
Point of Contact (POC) for the NSA Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education at Penn State
Ph.D., College of IST, Penn State University, 2013
B.S., College of IST, Penn State University, 2007

Dr. Nicklaus A. Giacobe is an Associate Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) at The Pennsylvania State University.  He has earned a B.S. and Ph.D. in Information Sciences and Technology from The Pennsylvania State University.

He currently conducts research in cybersecurity education. He focuses on the measurement of human cognition in cyber educational activities. His system, Polylab, uses cryptographic techniques to embed unique parameters in lab exercises, generating individual experiences for each student. He has developed Polylab exercises for networking, Linux operating systems, and forensics courses.

Dr. Giacobe generally teaches the following courses, as needed by the College:

  • CYBER 100, Computer Systems Literacy
  • CYBER 262, Cyber Defense Technologies Studio
  • CYBER 342W, Incident Handling and Response
  • CYBER 440, Cybersecurity Senior Capstone
  • IST 210, Organization of Data
  • IST 220, Networking and Telecommunications
  • IST 440, IST Senior Capstone
  • IST 451, Network Security
  • IST 554, Network Security (Graduate)
  • SRA 111, Introduction to Security and Risk Analysis
  • SRA 221, Introduction to Information Security
  • SRA 231, Decision Theory and Analysis
  • SRA 440W, Security and Risk Capstone

During his graduate education, he conducted research related to situation awareness in the cyber-security domain, and focused on measuring human cognition of cyber-security analysts. He developed frameworks for the fusion of cyber-security raw data using advanced multi-sensor data fusion techniques. Additionally, he developed visualization techniques for representing cyber-security data to analysts with the goal of improving analyst situation awareness. During his work, he identified a need for methods to measure situation awareness in this domain and has transitioned some general-purpose situation awareness measurement techniques from the cognitive science field and applied them in the cyber domain.

He has developed online course content to reach learning objectives in both the World Campus and the residential classroom using virtual lab technologies. He has focused on the development of content to be delivered to online students, whose technology and resources are diverse and limited.  Nick serves as the Course Committee Chairman for IST 220 and CYBER 440. For the capstone course, he and his graduate students fabricated a robust 200 GB dataset from a fabricated ransomware incident. Students analyze to discover the nature of the attack, specific methods of intrusion used, scope of the breach, and the data exposed. Student teams then present their findings to top level executives outlining the legal implications of the incident.

Prior to graduate school, Nick was a Network and Systems Administrator with 18 years of increasing levels of responsibility.  Most recently, he managed the day-to-day operations of computers and networks for a large academic department in the Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. In this role, he managed Ethernet networks, servers, workstations and cluster-computer systems to meet the computing needs of a diverse population of academic researchers. The network he managed spanned two separate facilities, over two hundred individuals including forty faculty members from five different sub-disciplines. He previously worked as a network design engineer for a small company that partnered with multi-service operators, like Time Warner, Comcast, and Cox, to propose fiber-based networks for metropolitan governments and large school districts. Nick’s computer networking career began as a 2nd-level network support technician for Penn State University where he handled day-to-day router and centralized switch configuration for the University’s 24 campuses.

Research Keywords
Cybersecurity Education
Situation Awareness
Security Metrics