In February 2003, the President of the United States developed a national strategy to secure our cyberspace. A number of Presidential Decision Directives have been issued, and a national policy has been developed on protecting our critical infrastructures. Information systems are one such critical infrastructure.
Through these efforts at the federal level, the National Security Agency, now in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, developed the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE) program. This effort is an outreach program designed to reduce vulnerabilities in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education in information assurance and producing a growing number of professionals with IA expertise in various disciplines.
Universities that are designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education receive formal recognition from the U.S. government as well as the ability to offer scholarships and granting opportunities to both students and faculty. In conjunction with the CAE/IAE program, NSA and the Department of Homeland Security sponsor a number of workshops through the Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education and also sponsor a Senior Executive Academic Liaison program. The goal of all such programs is to promote and increase the availability of information assurance education across the United States.
Information assurance education is not an isolated need. The demand for research and for students who possess the needed education and skills is growing. In our global society, we have become dependent on information systems, and ensuring their continued operation is a critical need in our society.
To address the need for trained cyber security professionals, IUP developed a cross-disciplinary baccalaureate degree between the IUP departments of Computer Science and Criminology. It includes the core Computer Science program augmented with cyber security and information assurance classes, combined with a minor in criminology. The BS in Computer Science/Information Assurance track was first offered in fall 2002.
In addition to a baccalaureate degree, the departments of Computer Science and Criminology developed an interdisciplinary minor in information assurance designed to complement degrees in criminology, computer science, information management systems, and others with a base understanding and skills in information assurance.
The minor involves a different distribution of computer science and criminology courses depending on the student’s major. In 2005, the IUP Council of Deans formally established the Institute for Information Assurance as an IUP Institute with the mission to promote information assurance education and awareness across the IUP campus.
In the early 2000s, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designated IUP to be a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE). IUP was one of the first undergraduate institutions to receive this designation and has maintained a unique blend of computer science with criminology.
In 2007, IUP signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Butler County Community College and with the Community College of Allegheny County to work together to pursue partnerships, programs, and collaborations. A similar agreement with the Community College of Beaver County was signed in 2008.
In 2008, IUP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and with Westmoreland Community College to operate collectively in the furtherance of mutual interest in the area of information assurance and computer security.
Since signing these agreements, IUP has assisted in review of curriculum, established transfer of credits, and collectively promotes information assurance activities. IUP continues to work with these and other institutions to develop articulation agreements and strengthen relationships.
In 2012, IUP received funding in the amount of $231,000 (during academic year 2012–13) from the National Science Foundation CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) award for its project, “The Cyber Catch Scholarship Program.” The total funding for this project over a five-year period is anticipated to be $1,148,531. This program provides qualified students with a scholarship to become a federal information assurance professional and address the growing need for protecting the government’s critical information infrastructures. The scholarship program supports one or two years of stipends, tuition, and allowances for undergraduate information assurance majors or minors at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Ten scholarships have been awarded each year since 2012.
In 2015, the Institute for Information Assurance established a steering committee to better coordinate and disseminate cyber security and information assurance research, practices, and activities across the IUP campus. Faculty members from four of the IUP colleges are represented together with security personnel from IUP IT Services and the dean of Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
In fall 2015, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designated IUP to be a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE/CD), the latest designation. In conjunction with this new designation, the Institute for Information Assurance was given a new name: the Institute for Cyber Security.
IUP was the first college/university in Pennsylvania to receive a GenCyber Grant from the National Security Agency and National Science Foundation to host a Summer Camp on Cyber Security. This free, week-long event in summer 2016 had over 45 middle/high school students and teachers from the western Pennsylvania area.
IUP continues to build relationships with regional institutions. IUP signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Hagerstown Community College and updated its Memorandum of Understanding with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. IUP joined with Westmoreland Community College, Community College of Allegheny County, and Butler County Community College in seeking an America’s Promise Grant to provide tuition-free education in IT and Cyber Security.
Today, IUP graduates 25 to 40 students each year with a degree in cyber security and 10 to 20 students with a minor in cyber security. The Institute for Cyber Security organizes and promotes a number of activities, including Cyber Security/IA Day, meetings of student organizations, workshops for teachers, summer camps for high school students, and roundtable discussions.