Ensuring the safety of the U.S. information infrastructure is of vital importance to national security. The University of Kansas recently was honored by the federal government for its commitment to research and educational programs devoted to protecting this critical interest.
The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have designated KU a National Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
“Keeping a free flow of digital information is a national priority that also affects individual peace of mind,” said Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies. “KU is working to enhance both. This announcement reflects that fact and is a tremendous recognition of the strong collaboration that came together to submit the successful proposal.”
The KU designation comes at a time when experts at the National Academy of Science and policymakers have identified cyber security as a key component to protecting the wired lives of Americans, who use banks, utilities, communication and other products and services used on an hourly, daily or weekly basis. By educating the next generation of practitioners, performing fundamental research and reaching out to the community, KU serves as a regional center of expertise in support of the ongoing fight to protect the U.S. information infrastructure.
KU’s Information and Telecommunication Technology Center and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science together form the core of KU’s program. In working toward center of excellence designation, ITTC developed the Information Assurance Lab.
The lab serves as a university-wide focal point for information assurance education, research and implementation. The new interdisciplinary lab includes researchers from the electrical engineering and computer science department, mathematics department and business school as well as KU’s IT Security Office, which is responsible for implementing information security on campus.
The proposal for the center of excellence designation was drafted by Joseph Evans, ITTC director and the Deane E. Ackers Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Perry Alexander, director of the ITTC Information Assurance Lab and electrical engineering and computer science professor. They worked with faculty from ITTC and the School of Business and KU's Information Services staff.
“This is a testament to our national prominence in information assurance and cybersecurity education,” Alexander said. “The hard work and strategic vision of numerous KU faculty members and staff led to the University being accepted into this elite group.”
In coordination with the Information Assurance Lab, the electrical engineering and computer science department offers a master’s degree in information technology with a focus on information security. Additionally, the department’s computer science and computer engineering graduate programs include strong security components. Complementing these programs, the School of Business offers information systems and accounting courses with emphasis on information security issues.
“This designation recognizes the initiative and vision of numerous KU faculty and staff, and particularly Professor Alexander,” Evans said. “In establishing the IA lab, Professor Alexander brought together diverse IA research expertise and the rich academic resources of KU. The lab is the centerpiece of a holistic approach to securing the national information infrastructure.”
To be named a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance, an institution must meet courseware standards defined by the Information Assurance Courseware Evaluation Program. In 2007, KU’s electrical engineering and computer science department was certified for standards 4011 and 4013: the National Training Standard for Information Systems Security Professionals and the National Information Assurance Training Standard for System Administrators, respectively.