SUNY Canton Cybersecurity Expert Receives Digital Privacy Software Patent


A SUNY Canton faculty member has patented educational cybersecurity software designed to play like a computer game.

The SUNY Research Foundation recently announced that Associate Professor Kambiz Ghazinour had received a patent for the concepts and programming for a Digital Privacy and Security Simulator named DigitalPASS, a product offered by the company CyberSpara, Inc., which Ghazinour founded in 2020.

Kambiz Ghazinour

“DigitalPASS is a web-based simulation model that uses gamification to teach cybersecurity safety to a wide range of groups, including K-12, healthcare, defense and small businesses,” Ghazinour said. “It is currently deployed at area schools, including Canton Central School and Colton-Pierrepont Central School, to help students stay safe online. We also work with the Griffiss Institute and Air Force Research Lab in Rome to help the defense sector.”

The innovative web interface displays a simulated social networking platform like the most popular photo and media-sharing sites. Individuals can play as either a regular user or a hacker. Users can choose which simulated information and images they want to share and are provided a score for making posts that don’t contain personal information. Hackers peruse the posts of their online friends to find revealing information. The game platform displays points for either digital literacy or being able to glean personal data about other users.

Kambiz Ghazinour works with a student using DigitalPASS in the Cybersecurity lab.

“For example, someone would make a seemingly innocent post like ‘What a beautiful day! I took Ginger for a walk!’” Ghazinour explained. “That reveals the pet's name, which has been used as a password recovery question for the victim's email to a hacker.”

Digital literacy tips for staying safe online built into the software include being cautious about what information is shared online, not clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown or suspicious emails, not engaging in text conversations with people they don’t know, and adjusting privacy settings on social media platforms to control who can see their information online.

DigitalPASS screen capture

“Identity theft affects millions of individuals every year, costing billions of dollars and severe personal difficulties to those affected,” Ghazinour said. “People need to be cognizant of the information they are sharing in their seemingly innocuous posts.”

United States Patent 11,972,026 names Ghazinour as the inventor of “Program products, methods and systems for simulating and preventing the dissemination of sensitive information.”

The faculty member serves as the part-time Chief Strategy Officer of CyberSpara, which employs SUNY Canton student researchers as paid interns, in addition to numerous area educators and experts. The company has racked up significant support from a National Science Foundation Small Business Technology Transfer grant, SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund grant and Helping Upstate Science Technology Leaders and Entrepreneurs Defense Accelerator funding, among others.

He is the second SUNY Canton employee to recently receive a patent for an invention through the SUNY Research Foundation. Previously, Neil A. Haney, an instructional support associate for the Canino School of Engineering Technology, patented an automatic chainsaw oiling system.

The Cybersecurity Bachelor of Science program at SUNY Canton prepares students to assess computer and network system security needs, recommend solutions and manage the implementation of security devices. It was selected for the prestigious National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense in March 2023. In conjunction with the program, the college offers advanced studies in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence.

About SUNY Canton

Discover SUNY Canton, where innovation meets opportunity. The college’s career-focused educational programs emphasize hands-on and applied learning opportunities in digital design, engineering technology, health, information technology, management, public service, and veterinary technology. Faculty members bring real-world experience and exceptional academic expertise to the classroom. As a leader in online education, SUNY Canton offers unmatched flexibility with hundreds of courses and 23 comprehensive degree programs offered completely online. The SUNY Canton Kangaroos compete at the NCAA Division III level and will be transitioning to the SUNYAC in Fall 2024. In addition to its 15 traditional teams, SUNY Canton offers coed varsity esports and cheerleading.