» Defenders of the Cyberworld
From defending a computer network from hackers to protecting a power grid, information assurance ensures the availability, integrity, authentication and confidentiality of information systems.
The UTSA College of Business Information Assurance and Security (IAS) program is one of the premier computer security programs in the country, and one of but a few that is anchored in a business college. The college’s IAS program, which began in 2001, is dedicated to educating students and conducting high quality research in this field.
“Our program assists in meeting the national demand for information security professionals trained to defend America’s cyberspace,” said Dr. Glenn Dietrich, chairman of the Department of Information Systems and Technology Management. “We offer academic coursework and training in the areas of biometrics, cyber forensics, data mining and intrusion detection.”
UTSA’s information assurance and securityprogram was recently designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Only 40 programs in the nation have achieved the research designation, only three of which are in Texas. UTSA has also been designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education since 2002.
With more than 100 students majoring in the program, the Department of Information Systems and Technology Management offers an undergraduate degree in infrastructure assurance and security, a master’s degree in information technology with a concentration in infrastructure assurance and security, and several minors. Coursework is broad, with more than 14 undergraduate and graduate courses in the areas of digital forensics, secure network design, intrusion detection and incident response.
Students learn how to protect data, gather and examine digital evidence, perform security risk assessments and study computer and network forensics procedures. New introductory security courses have also been implemented for accounting students.
In an effort to remain current with technology, the college has created the Advanced Laboratories for Information Assurance and Security (ALIAS). The 2,200-square-foot ALIAS lab provides necessary resources to support a broad spectrum of security-centric activities within the College of Business. Additionally, the lab also includes two state-of-the-art technology classrooms that support student learning.
“The lab is designed to maximize student learning by providing top-notch software and tools used by professionals in the field,” said Dr. Nicole Beebe, assistant professor of information systems. “We use virtual machines specifically designed to mirror computers and networks involved in all aspects of the security life cycle—those used by hackers to attack, those we
must defend and those we investigate upon compromise.”
Building on this successful program, the college is currently working to establish one of the first university programs in Texas with a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) research area. SCADA systems are used to manage a myriad of infrastructure and manufacturing operations throughout the world.
Faculty members conduct funded research in the areas of biometrics, data mining, data visualization and intrusion detection. Three faculty members lead the IAS research efforts in collaboration with adjunct faculty who are practitioners from leading information assurance companies as well as from military organizations such as the Air Force Information Operations Center in San Antonio.
“Human error is one of the largest security risks,” said Dietrich, an expert in user security behavior. “Individuals share passwords, leave them out in the open or don’t follow proper security protocols.” Dietrich regularly teaches an advanced topics course that discusses emerging security issues.
Professor Jan Clark has conducted research in the areas of digital forensics, data mining, biometrics and hacking behavior prediction. As a lead faculty member in the department, Clark also is instrumental in supervising and mentoring the college’s doctoral information systems students.
“Our program is unique because it focuses not only on the technology, but also on the managerial side of information security,” said Clark, who recently published an article on the top researchers in the field of information security. “The breadth of our IA program makes it more relevant in the security world.”
With more than 10 years of experience conducting forensic investigations with the U.S. government and in the private sector, Beebe specializes in the areas of digital forensics and intrusion detection. “Digital forensics is an exciting and relatively new area of research,” said Beebe. “One of the most pressing issues in this field is the need for more advanced analytical techniques, which is my research specialty. We don’t need to process data more quickly, but we need to process data smarter using advanced information retrieval and analytic methods.”
The college continues to add information assurance faculty as well. A search is currently under way for the AT&T Distinguished Chair in Information Assurance and Security. The chair will further develop the information assurance program by conducting world class research and developing partnerships within academia, business and the federal government.
In support of training a cadre of IASprofessionals, the U.S. Department of Defense has implemented the Information Assurance Scholarship Program. Partnering with select universities, the Department of Defense provides scholarships, internships and job opportunities to skilled students.
Five College of Business information assurance students were named recipients of the Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship Program. The Department of Defense awarded 32 new scholarships this year, with UTSA having the second-largest number of students named as recipients.
The recipients were graduate students Bradley Casey, Brian Durack and Michael Reski and juniors David Garcia and Dane Stuckey.
Students selected for the program receive full scholarships including tuition, books, fees and a stipend. They also participate in a paid internship with the Department of Defense and are awarded a full-time position with the Department of Defense upon graduation.
The college is also one of only 37 universities that have partnered with the National Defense University (NDU) to provide education and training for government employees. Government employees can complete a master’s degree in collaboration with coursework offered by NDU.
“UTSA is well positioned to help ensure the nation is protected from future cyber vulnerabilities and attacks through the students you educate and the research opportunities you provide,” said Richard Schaeffer, information assurance director at the National Security Agency. “We are pursuing strong alliances with our [Centers of Academic Excellence] to ensure we can continue to improve and rely on the information assurance education and research of the next generation.”
UTSA College of Business
One UTSA Circle
San Antonio, Texas
Tel: (210) 458-4313
Fax: (210) 458-4308