Dr. Michele Maasberg

Service. It’s what drives Dr. Michele Maasberg. In fact, the former naval officer was busy answering questions for this story from 32,000 feet while traveling to an information systems conference where she served as chair for a workshop track.

Michele MaasbergMaasberg graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and entered flight training, finishing first in her advanced helicopter flight school class. During her service, she accumulated more than 2,500 flight hours, reporting for fleet service to Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Three (HS-3) and flying antisubmarine and combat search and rescue missions in Kosovo, Iraq, the Persian Gulf, and Haiti as well as numerous exercises and deployments in the Atlantic theater of operations.

After serving a tour as a flight instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola, she reported for final assignment as Air Officer of Amphibious Squadron Two where she worked closely with Marine and Allied units to coordinate air operations.

“I was inspired to go into the military to serve our country, and I was inspired to go into the field of cyber security to serve our country,” said Maasberg. “A common theme for me with these two areas has been risk analysis and incident response.”

After retiring from the Navy, Massberg worked for the U.S. government as a civilian in technology and information assurance with both the Navy and U.S. Army. She went on to earn her M.S. with a concentration in information assurance and a Ph.D. in business information technology with a special interest in cyber security.

Today, she serves as the Herbert McElveen Endowed Professor and Assistant Professor in Louisiana Tech’s College of Business, where she conducts cybersecurity research — insider threats, data breaches, and malware. 

“My primary research area is regarding malicious insider threats, most specifically sabotage — trying to understand who the bad actors are, when and why they attack organizational assets and data, and what mitigation strategies are available to organizations regarding these types of attacks,” said Maasberg, who noted she is most interested in the malicious actors because they can cause the highest level of damage in organizations.

“The technical side involves investigating improvements to a new technical systems to detect actions of these individuals before an incident, and the behavioral side is to detect the types of individuals who continue to circumvent the novel technical systems designed to detect their actions.”

Her research and teaching is supplemented by Tech’s close proximity to Barksdale Air Force Base, government contractors, and liaisons — making for real-world impact and application for students. She views this, along with the College of Business’ designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense and Research by NSA and DHS, as “an opportunity to contribute to national security through a legacy of the students and research.”

One way Maasberg does this is through her Security Risk Analysis course that allows students to collaborate with local organizations to help identify potential risks.

“One of the best moments so far at Louisiana Tech was watching the Winter 2018 CIS 524/424 class present their final projects of actual risk analyses with outside organizations,” she said. “It became apparent the transformative relationships that had taken place with our students and the community as local organizations were able to improve their security posture and the students enhance their skills and professionalism.”

For Maasberg, it has been an honor to serve the country. Now, she serves the students of Louisiana Tech by encouraging them to decide what their dream careers are. 

“If they do that, and work hard toward their goals with a single minded focus with personal integrity, then they will never ‘work’ a day in their lives (because they do what they love). If it happens to be technology (especially cyber security), then Louisiana Tech University is the place to be and the possibilities are infinite.”