US Naval Academy Increases Educational Opportunities in Cyber Security

Story Number: NNS100312-11Release Date: 3/12/2010 3:41:00 PM
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By Jessica Clark, U.S. Naval Academy Public Affairs

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- U.S. Naval Academy academic dean announced at the quarterly Board of Visitors meeting March 8 that the academy will continue to increase its educational opportunities in the field of cyber security.

In response to the establishment of the Navy's Fleet Cyber Command/10th Fleet, Andrew Phillips, the academic dean, announced that the academy is taking steps to ensure that future graduates are given the skills and knowledge necessary to operate effectively in an emerging cyber security environment.

In December 2009, the academy created the Center for Cyber Security Studies (CCSS) to enhance the opportunities available to midshipmen, faculty and staff in the areas of cyber security. CCSS coordinated with the National Security Agency (NSA) to increase the number of summer internships for midshipmen to 14, as well as several at the National Defense University.

"We think experiences like that will be crucial for recruiting midshipmen into the field in the future, especially for those who might not have thought of this as a warfare specialty," said Phillips.

Midshipman 1st Class Stephanie Stamm, an honors math major from Lockport, N.Y., participated in an NSA internship in 2009 where she spent six weeks working with a civilian counterpart on algorithms used for various types of encryption.

"It was incredible. Throughout the six weeks, I had to recall concepts from every math course I've ever taken," said Stamm. "It was a great experience to put all that together and see it being applied in a way that was enhancing the security of our nation."

Stamm is slated to graduate in May 2010 and will be commissioned as a surface information warfare officer. Her first assignment is in Mayport, Fla., on board the guided-missile cruiser USS Gettyburg (CG 64).

Prior to her internship, Stamm had traveled to London with the Computer Science Department, a trip that included a guided tour of Government Communications Headquarters, a British intelligence agency.

"We were exposed to the different methods of attack that they have in approaching the same kind of problems that we're having," said Stamm. "Being exposed to the alliance and relationship we have with them and being part of that was really a neat experience."

In January 2010, CCSS launched the Midshipmen Cyber Warfare Activity, an interdisciplinary club designed to increase awareness of cyber security across the entire student body.

Additionally, Phillips said there are ongoing efforts to establish a cyber security curriculum. The Computer Science Department is piloting two elective courses during the spring semester, "Cryptography and Network Security" and "Computer Forensics."

The academy is also testing a new course entitled "Fundamentals of Cyber Security," designed for midshipmen in any academic major.

"The purpose of the course is to get a better understanding of what kind of content would be appropriate for large numbers of students, including those in non-computing based disciplines, and also to get a better sense of what sort of topics will keep the interest level of the students high," said Phillips.

A team of senior professors from across the academy's academic divisions is also conducting a study to determine what is necessary for establishing a future cyber security major.

"We've been working hard to get a number of inititatives relating to cyber security in place. It's a work in progress," said Phillips. "We're in the middle of a national search for a director for CCSS and we hope that person will take a leadership role in bringing all of our vision to reality."

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