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Sacramento State Campus

FOCUS ON: Information Security

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The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security designated Sacramento State as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. The goal is to reduce vulnerabilities in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education in information assurance and producing a growing number of professionals with information assurance expertise.

(Narrator:) This is “Focus” from the campus of Sacramento State.

(Jim Finnerty reporting:) Jeremy Seltz is staging a cyber attack. Rollin Menz is using his technical arsenal to defend his position. A real world computer exercise at Sacramento State that’s part of a program marking the school as a leader in information security. (Isaac Ghansah, Sacramento State computer science professor:) “Because of terrorist attacks, there is a need to protect critical infrastructure.”

(Finnerty:) Professor Isaac Ghansah directs the annual exercise; one element in accreditation from the Department of Homeland Security.

(Ghansah:) “The purpose of this exercise is to get our students to practice what we teach in the classrooms about how to defend their computer systems.”

(Finnerty:) The two teams...red and blue...will initiate and repel computer security attacks for seven days...24 hours a day.

(Jeremy Seltz, Sacramento State computer science student:) “As a student it probably gives me more applied knowledge rather than theory, and that’s pretty hard to come by.”

(Rollin Menz, Sacramento State computer science student:) “You know, it’s kind of like a criminal. They’ll case the joint. They’ll try going in. If that doesn’t work they’ll case the joint again and try going in.”

(Finnerty:) Sacramento State is one of only 87 universities in the nation to be designated as a center for information assurance and security-selected for its course work in things like cryptography, computer forensics and cyber privacy.

(Seltz:) “If you were the red team in real life it would be malicious hackers attacking these services and maybe stealing credit cards. Doing things people shouldn’t be doing.”

(Finnerty:) In a follow-up exercise the teams are reversed. Scored on their ability to protect information or initiate incursions.

(Seltz:) “You have to know your enemy and you have to know how your enemy acts. And by knowing their modus operandi, you are able to defend against the attacks.”

(Finnerty:) This is Jim Finnerty reporting.

(Narrator:) For more information on this and other news from Sacramento State, visit our website.

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