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Training Next-Generation CyberCops

The Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) will launch an innovative graduate education program to educate scientists and engineers to address the increasingly complex issues surrounding information security and privacy. A $2.85 million award from the National Science Foundation’s flagship interdisciplinary training initiative, Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT), will fund the program.

“Traditionally, engineers are taught to evaluate projects by technical standards alone, a narrow approach that is out of touch with today’s connected society,” said the initiative’s team leader, Nasir Memon, a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Information Systems and Internet Security Lab. “For the scientists of tomorrow, social context will be a critical aspect of innovation.”

To reach beyond a solely technical approach, the program will enlist faculty from NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, and Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, as well as faculty from CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, with students receiving degrees from NYU-Poly or NYU.

Called INSPIRE (Information Security and Privacy): An Interdisciplinary Research and Education Program, the program will address the shortage of scientists and engineers versed in the interplay between information security and economics, psychology, public policy and law. INSPIRE graduates will be able to apply their understanding of these fields to develop technology solutions attuned to an increasing dependence on trustworthy information systems.

“Information systems are indispensable components of every aspect of our personal and professional lives,” said Kurt Becker, NYU-Poly associate provost for research and technology initiatives. “Protecting their integrity by authenticating content and ensuring seamless, fast, reliable and secure transmission of data and information is critical in areas including national security, personal safety and comfort, commerce and business.”

INSPIRE fellows will address some of the most pressing issues in information security including identifying physical vulnerabilities in critical infrastructures such as IT networks and public utilities, developing new risk mitigation and information security models for enterprise and using human behavioral models to design end-user security solutions.

The program is projected to educate 25 doctoral fellows over the next five years, beginning this fall.

NYU-Poly was one of the earliest schools to introduce a cyber security program, receiving National Security Agency (NSA) approval nearly a decade ago. Designated as both a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and a Center of Academic Excellence in Research by the NSA, the school houses a NSF-funded Information Systems and Internet Security (ISIS) Laboratory, which conducts cyber security research. In addition to the IGERT program, NYU-Poly is home to a similar NSF-funded program — ASPIRE — that provides cyber security-related scholarships and faculty support for undergraduates and master’s degree students at NYU-Poly and NYU.

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