POCATELLO – The U.S. departments of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency has extended Idaho State University’s recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Security.
Idaho State University has been offering computer security classes since 1987. Seventeen years ago, Idaho State University and the University of Idaho were two of the first seven Centers of Academic Excellence recognized by the National Security Agency. The two programs regularly collaborate said Corey Schou, director of the ISU Informatics Research Institute and Director National Information Assurance Training and Education Center (NIATEC).
“We are pleased with this recognition, which extends through 2020” Schou said. “In the past, the Center of Academic Excellence designation had to be renewed every three years; we have been continuously accredited by these agencies and have extended our program in five new specialty areas.”
The ISU cyber security programs, which are now accredited in 10 different cyber security specialty areas, have brought in more than $5 million in grants to the University. The institute and the center at ISU were also responsible for developing key standards for security systems containing National Security Information.
ISU’s Informatics Research Institute and the ISU NIATEC also developed the most widely used common body of knowledge for industry and government, Schou said. The ISU program is the only school certified to teach all Committee on National Security Systems and National Security Information courses at the advanced level.
“We help design safeguards to cyber security threats, help train people and identify and deal with threats,” Schou said. “Information assurance helps make sure the right people, and no one else, have the right information at the right time, for the right price. Information assurance is critical to defending the critical national infrastructure.”
Last week Idaho State University was made a member of the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service community sponsored by both the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. For a decade, Idaho State University has been offering scholarships through this program.
There has is high demand for the ISU cyber security program and there is currently a wait list to get into it.
“We’ve had 100-percent job placement rates for our graduates since the programs’ inception and as part of the CyberCorps we have recently received more than $3 million for specialized scholarships to increase the number of computer security experts for the federal government,” Schou said.
Students from ISU who earn a certificate in informatics focusing on cyber security and Master of Business Administration degree regularly find employment for national agencies throughout the country.
“Some of our graduates stay in the region to meet their scholarship requirements; many who leave the return to the intermountain area – including Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Boise and Rexburg. Most of our graduates come from within 250 miles of Pocatello, but this is not to say that we do not recruit nationally – we have students from all over the country,” Schou said.
“Since the graduates of the Scholarship for Service program must go to work for the U.S. government,” he added, “we have all sorts of experiential learning opportunities including handling classified material to cyber war simulations, which have been built by our students in the past decades. We have even offered international simulations to support components of Hawaiian, Washington and California National guard.”
In addition, ISU’s cyber security efforts include developing curriculum and materials for professional certification in computer security. The IRI/NIATEC has also developed cyber security competitions for regional universities.
Schou, the director of the program, is the founder and chairman of the board of directors of International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)², which is the largest global, not-for-profit leader in educating and certifying cyber, information, software and infrastructure security professionals throughout their careers.
Among his other activities, he was recently selected to participate on the editorial board of the “IT Security” scientific journal published by the National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI) in Moscow, Russia.
Other ISU information assurance and cyber security faculty at ISU include Howard Schmidt, former Cyber-Security Coordinator in the Bush and Obama administrations, and Larry Leibrock, an internationally recognized expert in cyber forensics.
For more information on ISU IRI/NIATEC, visit http://security.iri.isu.edu/.