GWU battle lab trains IT professionals in security

GWU battle lab trains IT professionals in security

An accelerated, six-month computer security certification program for IT professionals at George Washington University's Ashburn, Va., campus is one of the first of its kind in response to the government's Cyber Corps scholarship program.

Cyber Corps scholarships require students to work for the government after completion [GCN, June 18, 2001, Page 46].

Lance J. Hoffman, GWU director of computer security and information assurance, said the university expects to receive a 'designated center of excellence' ranking in computer security soon, making it eligible for the program.

'There is not a lot of sharing yet on who has been hacked, why and what they're going to do about it,' he said.

The certificate program will cover four graduate-level courses in two 10-week sessions rather than on a semester schedule. Its 'battle lab' has 21 PCs, notebook computers, personal digital assistants and other devices on wired and wireless LANs.

The network architecture will vary with each class, which can accept about 25 students at a fee of $9,950. Subjects include computer security, e-commerce security, information policy, and viruses and worms.

Students will learn to use commercial software and freeware to both attack and defend networks, but the lab will have only limited Internet access.

Deep end of the pool

'It's too dangerous' to allow unrestricted access to the Internet, Hoffman said. 'We're not creating a hacker's lab, but you have to know how these things work.'

He said the program will turn out security professionals, not hackers.

A bachelor's degree in computer science or the equivalent will be required for admission, and students must agree to a set of ethical standards.

But ultimately, 'the choice between good and evil is a personal one,' Hoffman said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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