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Syracuse University re-certified as a Center of Excellence Program in Information Assurance Education
Syracuse University re-certified as a Center of Excellence Program in Information Assurance EducationJune 01, 2004Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
The National Security Agency(NSA) has re-certified Syracuse University as a Center of Excellence Program in Information Assurance Education. The designation, given to only 60 programs across the nation, recognizes SU’s programs as among the best in information assurance, and brings with it the potential for new collaborations and funding. SU received this designation through the efforts of the Systems Assurance Institute (SAI).
“The NSA designation brings credibility and recognition to our multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach to assuring safety, security, reliability, integrity and availability of information and information systems,” says Shiu-Kai Chin, professor in the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) and director of the New York Center for Advanced Technology in Computer Applications and Software Engineering (CASE).
“Consistent with the 9/11 Commission findings, the ability to share information securely in a timely fashion is essential for effective responses to a variety of threats,” Chin says. “It’s not about just the encryption algorithms or passwords or policy mandates to share information; its about rigorous methods in the social sciences and engineering that work together to knit together information systems, organizational cultures, policies, practices and laws in ways that produce security and trust.”
SU’s information assurance programs are housed in the multidisciplinary SAI, which was established as the Center for Systems Assurance in 2000 by ECS professors Chin, Steve Chapin, Kamal Jabbour, Susan Older and Steven Taylor. An innovative aspect of the SAI’s academic programs is the intentional integration of the unique technical, policy, management and cultural specialties and perspectives offered by four of SU’s schools and colleges: ECS, the School of Information Studies, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.
There are three graduate Certificate of Advanced Study programs in systems assurance, information security management and information technology, policy and management that are affiliated with the SAI. Additionally, the School of Information Studies offers a concentration in information assurance in Washington, D.C., as part of its Master of Science in Information Resource Management program, and an Advanced Course in Engineering in Information Security is offered at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, N.Y.
“My participation in the SAI has given me the opportunity to work with people outside my discipline and school,” says Patricia Longstaff, a professor in the Newhouse School. Longstaff says the interdisciplinary collaboration has been helpful to her in her work in the role of resilience and communication in security for unpredictable systems. “Interdisciplinary work is crucial to solving many of the problems facing us,” she says.
“The SAI is a great organization for different disciplinary interests to participate,” says Bruce Kingma, associate dean in the School for Information Studies. Numerous members of the school’s faculty are working on information assurance projects.
The SAI received its initial NSA Center of Excellence designation in 2001, less than a year after it was founded. To become a Center of Excellence, the SAI had to demonstrate expertise in research, teaching and outreach. In the designation process, the SAI and its programs were measured against a battery of stringent criteria that include having partnerships in IA education with historically underrepresented colleges, universities, two-year community colleges and technical schools; possessing a multidisciplinary perspective on information assurance education; and having a University library and reference system that maintains state-of-the-art IA resources.
“It’s more than just the courses that you teach, it’s about practicing what you preach,” says Older, the SAI’s education director.
The NSA designation not only provides a boost in reputation for the institute-and the University as a whole-but also opens doors to numerous collaborations with government, private and educational groups. Among the institute’s awards is a four-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Scholarship for Service program. With funding from the grant, the University will offer 30 two-year full scholarships, including stipends, to support students in earning master’s degrees in information assurance-related areas while preparing them for positions within federal agencies. The first group of nine students is now completing their first year in the program, and the second group of students will begin their studies in the fall.
Additionally, the CASE Center was awarded $2.1 million for its Syracuse University Prototypical Research in Information Assurance (SUPRIA) program. SUPRIA, which explores the cutting edge of information assurance technologies through state-of-the-art laboratories, hosts visiting academic researchers and sponsors graduate students to work in information assurance internships in industry.
A number of information assurance research projects are currently under way through the SAI. In collaboration between the Maxwell School, CASE Center, Syracuse Police Department (SPD) and SU’s Department of Public Safety (DPS), researchers are working to create the capability for the SPD and DPS to share information electronically.
In another project, Jeff Stanton, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies, is spearheading a project called the Central New York Secure Business Initiative. Over the next two months, Stanton and his researchers will be working with 10 local small businesses to assess their information security and help to develop ways to grow while keeping their information secure.
“We want to give them resources they can use to avoid security breaches, keep their information safe, and thus improve their bottom line,” Stanton says.
In addition, the SAI is working with the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, led by College of Law Prof. William Banks, and others on campus toward greater collaborative endeavors in teaching and research, including the possibility of a new degree program in security studies.