NIU STEM Café explores cybersecurity

The past few years have shown us how essential the internet is for both businesses and individuals, as more and more of our banking, shopping, communicating and entertainment happen online. Manufacturing is also becoming more reliant on the internet, as manufacturers connect digitally with supply chains. However, cybercrimes and scams are also becoming more prevalent, and they affect both individuals and businesses.

At the next NIU STEM Café, hear from two cybersecurity experts. Learn about common vulnerabilities and scams, signs of malicious intent and protective measures you can take. The STEM Café will take place online at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15. It is free and open to all. Registration and more information are available at

One expert speaker will be Jennifer Fowler, a member of the Strategic Cybersecurity Analysis and Research team at Argonne National Laboratory and an adjunct professor at Lewis University, where she teaches about encryption and authentication systems. Her areas of interest include cryptography, data privacy, cyberbiosecurity, biohacking and social engineering.

“Protecting yourself online can seem daunting,” Fowler said in a news release. “This talk will impart tips and tricks to protect yourself while online banking, engaging in social media, reading and sending email, and traversing the internet.”

The other speaker will be Cesar Pena, a senior cybersecurity engineer at MxD in Chicago, which equips manufacturers with digital tools and expertise in many areas, including cybersecurity. MxD is working with industry and government to bring cybersecurity to the supply chain and the factory floor. MxD is also the National Center for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing, as designated by the U.S. Department of Defense.

At the STEM Café, Pena will talk about cybersecurity amidst the rise of ransomware in the U.S., and what companies (especially small to mid-sized companies) can do about the problem.

Northern Illinois University STEM Cafés are part of NIU STEAM and are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. They are supported by Bayer Fund and Thermo Fisher Scientific. For more information, visit or contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or