Computer Crime Research Center


USM opens cybersecurity training lab

Date: August 28, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With hacking becoming an increasing problem in the digital age, some schools are implementing cybersecurity curriculum to prepare the future workforce on data theft issues. University of Southern Maine opens its cybersecurity lab Tuesday on its Portland campus, which is part of the Maine Cyber Security Cluster.

USM came up with the idea to create a cybersecurity lab about four years ago. Using $1 million in grants from the National Science Foundation and Maine Technology Institute, educators were able to design and build the lab. Part of the grant money also went toward building a private network, which will allow students to work with computer viruses without the threat of it spreading to other networks. Students will also examine technical, legal and ethical issues surrounding the collection, sharing and theft of sensitive data.

The Maine Cyber Security Cluster works to train cybersecurity personnel, though USM does not currently offer a stand alone degree in cybersecurity. The program trains students to conduct assessments and provides space for research and development.

USM said it plans to weave cybersecurity throughout different programs. Communication students will learn the most effective way of notifying the public about security breaches and how to manage "public relations crises." Technology students will learn how to protect networks from security breaches. The Philosophy department will discuss the ethical issues of access to sensitive information.

"We're watching companies all around us, and government agencies, penetrated by hackers," said USM President David Flanagan. He said this lab will give students the practical skills to enter the workforce in an increasingly important field.

"Right now in cyber security, there is zero percent unemployment," said Professor Glenn Wilson, who will be running the lab. "It's a really good future for students and the citizens of Maine."


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