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JCSU Invited to Join the U.S. Department of Defense Center for Digital Forensics Academic Excellence Program

Charlotte, N.C. (January 24, 2012) -- Everyone does it.

Every day, millions of Americans enter personal information on retail or social sites. They use the same password that’s easy to remember — like a child’s name or a favorite pet — to sign into all of their online accounts.

While these actions seem harmless, they’re actually a hacker’s dream. Now that technology and database systems are an integrated part of almost every aspect of business and modern-day life, cyber attacks have never been more of a concern for national security.

It’s a frightening concept. Even scarier, however, is the severe deficit of professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United States.

To address the issue, the U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3) engineered the Center for Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) program and has invited Johnson C. Smith University to join nine additional pilot schools across the country in its development.

“The United States loses approximately $500 billion a year because of cyber security glitches, including the loss of intellectual property and physical damage,” said Dr. Magdy Attia, a James B. Duke Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at JCSU and the founding dean of the school’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. “Professional hackers have proven that you don’t need bombs or guns to attack another country.”

According to the CDFAE, the partnership between American universities and key government agencies will lead to the establishment of “standards and best practices for digital forensics practitioners, educators, and researchers to advance the discipline of Digital Forensics and increase the number of qualified professionals to meet the needs of law enforcement, counterintelligence, national defense and legal communities.”

JCSU was invited to join the program after completing its Undergraduate Research Center in Electronics and Cyber Security, thanks to a $400,000 Congressionally directed grant the university received in 2010. The funding allowed JCSU to develop laboratories, software, summer research programs and a curriculum for a minor in cyber security that will tentatively be offered during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Currently, JCSU is in the assessment phase of becoming certified in the CDFAE program. In addition to a certified curriculum, involvement with the program will also help JCSU increase campuswide awareness of cyber security to instruct faculty and staff on the ways they can protect their online identity and information.

JCSU’s involvement with the CDFAE program also marks the university’s commitment to moving from a traditional education to one that is more market driven, ensuring that students have the ability to find jobs or continue their education with graduate school if they choose.

“JCSU has always had a strong STEM program,” said President Ronald L. Carter. “Our involvement with the Department of Defense will make our program that much more competitive and prepare our students to make an impact in the field of digital forensics.”

“With the $35 million grant our university received from the Duke Endowment, we’ll use a significant portion to continually improve our STEM departments,” said Carter. “Additions to our Technology Center and state-of-the-art laboratory technologies will also ensure that our students will be some of the most sought-after graduates in these critical fields.”


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