Focusing on Cyber Security

Published: Apr 30, 2004

Focusing On Cyber Security


Whether we’re banking, shopping, voting or working, as American life becomes more dependent on information technology (IT), the security of that information becomes more vital every day.

April 26-30 is Information Assurance (IA) Awareness Week at UMBC, with a slate of speakers and hands-on demonstrations to alert faculty, staff and students to possible threats and to show them how to secure their computer systems.

This event, the first of its kind at UMBC, is a collaboration between Alan Sherman, director of the UMBC Center for Information Security and Assurance (CISA), and associate professor of computer science; and Jack Suess, UMBC chief information officer; the OIT Helpdesk; and students from Sherman’s CMSC-491/691 IA class.

CISA has a three-fold mission to promote research, education and best practices in IA. Reflecting UMBC’s university-wide commitment to information assurance, it comprises faculty, staff and graduate students from the Departments of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Information Systems, Public Policy, Mathematics and Statistics and Physics, as well as the Department of Professional Education and Training and the Office of Information Technology.

The week’s activities include hands-on demonstrations of various ways to defend against hackers, computer viruses and other threats.

“For most members of the UMBC Community, the major threats are malicious code— including worms, viruses, and spyware—and identity theft,” says Sherman. “Our work at CISA aims to develop better technology and procedures and to make security easier to use.”

According to Suess, who also co-chairs the National Higher Education Computer and Network Security Task Force, information security and awareness is a top priority at every higher education institution, including UMBC. “This partnership between OIT and CISA is unique and just one example of how students in CISA are using their skills to enhance security at UMBC,” says Suess.

In April, UMBC was re-designated as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education for 2004-2007 by the Department of Defense. An award recognizing this achievement will be presented on June 8 during the annual conference of the ( Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY. 

Later that week at the associated West Point IA Workshop, Sherman will present joint research with his students Brian Roberts, William Byrd, Matthew Baker, and John Simmons on new hands-on educational exercises they developed using UMBC’s Mobile Cyber Defense Lab. 

IAAW kicks off on April 26 with a lecture by Avi Rubin (technical director, Information Security Institute, Johns Hopkins University), a noted expert, author and researcher on cybersecurity. Rubin will discuss security issues with electronic and Internet voting in light of the 2000 presidential election debacle in Florida. The talk will be held in at 1 p.m. in Lecture Hall V.  

Students from CMSC-419/691 IA will staff activity tables on Main Street in The Commons Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Also, there will be hands-on educational cyber defense exercises on firewalls, intrusion detection and computer forensics in the Information Technology Engineering Building, room 237, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2 to 3:15 p.m. (limited seating).  

A complete schedule of activities for Information Assurance Awareness Week is available online.






Scroll to Top