September 27, 2007

Cyber defense program earns NSA accreditation

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – National Security Agency certification of a program within Southern Illinois University Carbondale's School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies means program graduates now qualify for employment within secure federal government agencies.

The agency's Committee on National Security Standards, a group whose membership includes representatives of 21 federal government departments and agencies, recently accredited and certified the University's information security and networking system administration curriculum. Students working toward a bachelor's degree in information systems technology can earn the specialized certificate by successfully completing a specific series, including 15 hours of elective courses in networks and security.

The NSA, FBI, the armed services and numerous other government agencies and contractors recognize the certification, said Belle S. Woodward, an assistant professor in information technologies in the School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies.

"We're preparing them to work in the field of cyber defense," Woodward said.

"We are proud of the recent accreditation we have received," said William Devenport, director of the school, part of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. "The security of information systems is extremely important to business, industry and the government and our school's computer networking and security curriculum is now certified by the National Security Agency."

SIUC students have earned national recognition already in the science of cyber defense. The University's Collegiate Cyber Defense Team won the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in 2006 and placed fourth in the national contest. The team just lost out on the Illinois championship earlier this year.

Receipt of the certification and continued work by the cyber defense student chapter members to hone their skills aren't the only steps SIUC is taking to enhance its networking security program.

Woodward said the next goal is to create a Center for Excellence for Information Security, hopefully within the next couple of years. That may necessitate hiring additional faculty. Then, the quest will be to add a master's degree program.