Tampa, Florida -- Cybercrime is epidemic. Proof can be found in the massive hack attacks on the information systems of retail stores prior to Christmas that exposed the sensitive information of millions of people.

But new research at the University of South Florida aims to stop that after the university received a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study cybersecurity.

Dr. Grandon Gill and Amy Harroun are the stewards.

"This grant is a recognition of the cutting edge activities we are doing here at USF," said Gill.

"The students here at USF are learning cybersecurity not just from a technical standpoint, but from a real world, multidisciplinary perspective," said Harroun.

That's fancy talk for throwing graduate students into the cyberfire in the classroom before they have to deal with a cyber breach during future employment. The Target breach is a perfect example.

LEARN MORE: Battle against cybercrime

"At Target, credit card information was stolen because of bad design. An air conditioning system was on the same network as the cash registers. This allowed the hackers to get into a vulnerable system that Target thought was impervious," said Gill.

MORE INFO:On NSF projects

Students will learn how to recognize and block vulnerable access points regardless of device. Cell phones are one of the most vulnerable pieces of technology. USF students will learn how to protect them.