[ISN] Gov't pays ESU students $100K toward cyber security

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Mar 29 03:39:54 EST 2006


Dan Berrett
Pocono Record Writer
March 28, 2006

EAST STROUDSBURG - East Stroudsburg University is fortifying the line
of defense that protects cyberspace.

ESU's computer science department, which launched the nation's first
undergraduate major in computer security, announced earlier this month
that five of its computer security students had received a total of
$105,000 in scholarship money from the U.S. Department of Defense.

"We really have to grow talent by means of scholarships," said Richard
Amori, chairman of the school's computer science department. "This was
an opportunity to provide opportunities to students and fill a
national need. We're very vulnerable as a society."

Cyber-security experts like Amori worry that terrorists will use
computers to amplify the effects of their next attack.

Here's an example: After terrorists flew airplanes into the World
Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 and the media spread the news, what
would have happened if the attackers used computers to shut off cell
phones and other communications around New York City?

"You would have seen absolute panic," said Glenn Watt, president and
CEO of Backbone Security, a computer security firm in East

After all, computer networks support every sector of the American
economy: energy, transportation, finance, public health, emergency
services, water, food and shipping, among others. And networks extend
beyond cyberspace to control such terrorist targets as trains,
pipelines, chemical vats and radar.

Experts also worry that a few hackers can disrupt the lives of
citizens, the transactions of companies and the affairs of whole
sections of the government. "A small group of people can cause
tremendous damage," said N. Paul Schembari, director of the school's
computer security program.

Watt has already experienced one hacker's effect on the government. As
director of cyber-security for Langley Air Force Base in Virginia,
Watt saw the base's servers disrupted for three days in 1998 by a
hacker, based in Estonia, who was sending 60,000 spams per second.

For those three days, the base couldn't order fuel or replacement
parts. "There's a whole array of things we do on the Internet that
just came to a screeching halt," said Watt.

"I think it's a very interesting time to be doing this post-9/11,"  
said Matt Davis, 22, of East Stroudsburg, one of the scholarship
recipients. Davis and fellow seniors, Jess Meyer, 21, of Stroudsburg,
Jason Goss, 21, of Marshalls Creek and Brian Diana of Pocono Mountain,
received $20,000 per year. Joe Smith, 24, a graduate student from
Bally, received $25,000.

The money covers ESU's in-state tuition and expenses of about $11,200
per year, with money left over for a stipend so they can concentrate
on school. For example, Goss said the money allowed him to pay off
$8,000 in credit card bills and his student loans, and to stop working
full time at a local office supply store.

In exchange for each year's worth of scholarship money, the students
must commit to working at the Department of Defense after they

Some have already begun interning there.

"A lot of us knew more than they did," said Smith, describing what he
found as an intern. He said ESU's preparation in intrusion detection
systems was particularly valuable.

ESU's students cleared a field of 400 nationwide applicants for the
scholarships. And, while many award recipients had to be certified by
Defense, ESU's students were automatically cleared because of the
school's high internal standards; ESU is one of 67 schools designated
by Defense as a center of excellence.

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