Columbus State News


CSU Hires Corporate Technology Expert to Lead New TSYS Cybersecurity Center

                         Michael Barker

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Columbus State University has hired an Atlanta technology expert and state-licensed private detective specializing in digital forensics as the director of its new TSYS Center for Cybersecurity,

Michael Barker is the CEO and owner of C4 Group, Inc., a consulting and contract services firm that works in the area of information technology, security, incident response, digital forensics, assurance, audit, compliance and governance across a broad spectrum of industries.

With a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a master of science in Information Security Management from the University of Fairfax and 35 years of experience across a broad range of technologies and industries, Barker is a recognized industry leader in cyber security, information security and digital forensics.

“We are delighted we were able hire someone with Barker’s background and qualifications,” said Linda Hadley, dean of the Turner College of Business, which houses the TSYS School of Computer Science and the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity. “He will be a great complement to the outstanding computer science and cybersecurity faculty we already have in place.”

Barker is certified by the National Security Agency as an Information Systems Security Professional and a Senior Systems Manager. He also is certified by the Georgia Police Officer Standards Training (POST) as an instructor in cyber forensics investigations.

The TSYS Center for Cybersecurity is one result from a $5 million gift in 2015 to Columbus State University’s ongoing First Choice comprehensive campaign.

Part of the gift from Columbus, Ga.-based TSYS, a leading global payments provider, was designed to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity both in Georgia and throughout the nation. Lack of qualified cyber security practitioners has been highlighted as a major challenge facing both industry and government.

Through its partnership with CSU, TSYS has designated $2.5 million to establish the center.  Hadley said there are two primary goals with the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity:

  • Prepare a strong cybersecurity workforce, particularly for the financial services industry
  • Produce applied research and promote technological innovation that will influence cybersecurity practice in the financial services sector.

“TSYS has a long-standing partnership with Columbus State University, dating back over 30 years, and we are proud to continue that relationship by helping create the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity,” said Patty Watson, Senior EVP and CIO at TSYS. “We welcome Michael Barker as the new Director of the TSYS Center, and believe that he is the right leader to enable CSU to meet the demands for cybersecurity education within the Valley and across the world.”

A grand opening for the center was held in October.

“With the center built, the funding secured and a director now hired, the TSYS Center for Cybersecurity is well positioned to both serve our local business community while also making another mark for CSU in the Southeast,” said CSU President Chris Markwood. “I look forward to seeing us expand our research capabilities and technical expertise.”

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