Dr. Elmaghraby and his team awarded Cybersecurity Workforce Education Grant from NSA

January 8, 2018

Headshot of Dr. Adel ElmaghrabyLast fall, a team including doctors Elmaghraby and Lauf from the Department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science, along with Dr. Andrew Wright and Dr. Ghiyoung Im from the Business school Computer Information System program, and Dr. Michael Losavio from the Department of Criminal Justice, received a grant for Cybersecurity Workforce Education from the National Security Agency. The award provides qualified schools, those recognized as Centers of Education Excellence in Cybersecurity, funding intended to grow programs germane to the field.

Applying for several different funding opportunities, the team were awards two totaling $580,069. The first part of their grant funding is geared to enhance the existing cybersecurity courses and education on campus. The second builds on the existing infrastructure here on campus to expand the program for people who want to learn about cybersecurity who have a background in policing or security, to give them the foundations relevant to cybersecurity. The grant will include fellowship money for individuals to enroll into this camp to help top performing students continue in the program to receive a graduate certificate.

“We already have over 100 applicants. Everything will be mostly online. These are busy people. They question how to buy their time. We’re trying to attract them and this is the beginning of getting their foot into cybersecurity information. Hopefully we will screen them in these bootcamps and take the advanced courses,” says Dr. Elmaghraby.

To aid in this study, the CECS department are installing approximately 200 servers to allow for a controlled virtual environment, where students can negotiate compromised technology, navigating viruses and other obstacles, and to see how those programs evolve. The team are currently testing for bugs, an ever evolving obstacle course, to ensure the safety of the shared servers.

Elmaghraby admits, “there flaws in the operating system of the computer.” He adds that if not properly handled that preexisting bugs like Meltdown or Spectre which target these types of digital landscapes can, “slow down up to 30%. We want to get the servers protected, but the price is that it will slow us down in the meantime.”