According to the online school SkillFactory, specialists in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and information security are among the most sought-after employees in 2022. This conclusion is supported by the amount of job offers, salary rankings, reports, and analytical data compiled by major companies. AI is applied in a wide range of fields, from art and telecommunication to science and engineering. At its core are algorithms that process huge amounts of diverse information to identify patterns and make conclusions. But data is sensitive and can be manipulated by attackers in order to produce incorrect predictions.
The new Master’s program by ITMO University titled AI Security will train specialists who will be able to ensure the safety of AI technologies and protect them from hackers. Its graduates will be able to find employment at major companies such as Russian Railways, Gazprom Neft, Sberbank, Rostelecom, etc.
“Modern society is concerned with the information security of technical systems. AI penetrates all spheres of social relations, which raises the question of its correct functioning. That’s why our prospective graduates’ competencies are related to both AI systems and information security. The program offers a unique opportunity to receive training in these fields through solving real-life tasks proposed by our customers and pick a specialization and a workplace during the studies,” says Danil Zakoldaev, the head of the Faculty of Secure Information Technologies.
In the course of their studies, the students will have to pick one of two specializations:
Security Management in AI Systems
As part of this track, students will learn how to use various methods and tools to ensure the information security of AI. After graduation, they’ll be able to analyze systems for vulnerabilities and find ways to optimize them by choosing the most suitable protective method or developing a new one.
Mathematical Methods for AI Systems Security
Master’s students who pick this specialization will study the math at the core of AI information security. This knowledge will allow them to develop hardware and software of the next generation.
Graduates of the program will be able to conduct research, program, analyze data using AI tools, automate informational and analytical activities, and ensure the security of AI systems.
One of the opportunities ITMO University offers to Master’s students is the ability to form individual learning tracks and pick courses, lecturers, and so on. The general curriculum structure can be divided into several stages: overview, task, research, approbation, results, and implementation.
At the first stage, students get to learn all about available research fields and teams. As a rule, each program holds a contest to select new members who will join the research groups. Then, the student comes up with a task that must include research and completes it. Once it’s done, the achieved results are checked and confirmed through experiments, publishing of academic papers, or presentations at conferences. At the final stage, the solution is implemented at the lab or a company. Thus, in two years, graduates will learn how to design and maintain the implementation of safe technological processes, as well as prevent threats to information security in complex systems.
“One of the key tasks of a university is to train highly qualified and sought-after graduates. That’s why over 60% of lecturers at the Faculty of Secure Information Technologies are practicing professionals – heads and leading specialists at relevant organizations, including partner companies. In the course of their classes and internships, Master’s students communicate with specialists who help them determine their research tasks, complete them, and assess their work, including theses. The results are represented not only by grades but also by how valuable the graduates are on the job market,” says Danil Zakoldaev.
If a student’s research project is commissioned by a company, they will undergo the internship there; and if it was suggested by a research team – at the university. The form of internship depends on the objectives set by the research supervisor: it can be a theoretical study, lab work, development of test stands, a series of experiments, experimental data analysis, usage of specialized hard- and software, or acquisition of new skills by performing tasks at the workplace.
The program is open for applicants who know the basics of Python, are proficient in mathematics, and have some knowledge in the field of information security. You can apply by taking an entrance exam or through the I Am a Professional contest, It’s Up to You! online forum, contests for best reports at the Congress of Young Scientists, or ITMO’s MegaContest.