EMU revises information assurance program to meet growing security needs

by Ward Mullens, Published February 01, 2010

YPSILANTI — “Ghostnet” and “Titan Rain” may sound like the next hot computer games involving foreign powers, international intrigue and high tech, but they are not.

Eastern Michigan University Professor Gerald “Skip” Lawver knows that it is not a game and the occurrences of cyberattacks such as “Titan Rain” in 2003 and “Ghostnet” in 2009 are growing at an alarming rate.

“The number of attacks has increased ten fold,” said Lawver, coordinator of EMU’s Information Assurance Program.

To help address the growing need for qualified information security professionals, Lawver has redesigned EMU’s information assurance courses.

“We have brought the curriculum into the 21st Century to deal with issues related to homeland security,” said Lawver. “We are addressing network security protection and issues related to the large volume of threats against U.S. systems.”

The information assurance program at EMU began in 1995. Since then, EMU’s program has become the only one in the state of Michigan to offer information assurance degrees at all three academic levels (bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral).

“This is a preemptive package that allows a student to graduate and start working immediately,” Lawver said. “Before, a student would graduate and have to find a niche that allowed them to specialize in a certain area. Now they are specialists when they graduate. Student can choose a concentration in information assurance management, network security/administration or digital investigations.”

The graduate certificate program redesign modified the existing courses in the program, then added six courses in network security and six courses in digital investigation.

The undergraduate degree was revised by merging information assurance and network administration and adding coursework in network security.

All of EMU’s information courses are approved by the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) and mapped to 4011 and 4012 standards.

“We have 100 percent employment,” said Lawver. “The National Security Agency has hired five of our graduates. We also have graduates at Homeland Security, the State Department and embassies and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.”

According to Lawver, there are currently 200 students in the undergraduate information assurance degree program, 60 in the graduate degree program and 24 in the Ph.D. information assurance program.

For information about EMU’s degrees and certificates in information assurance, go to www.emich.edu/ia/

Ward Mullens

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