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06/25/2003 - Cyber Security Hot This Summer

Cyber Security classes, research, and collaborative work at Eastern Washington University (EWU) are becoming more and more exciting. This developing effort has been made possible by TINE congressional grants of over $1.5 million. These grants have made possible many new classes, new faculty, and collaborative work with other universities. New, this summer, are two specialized cyber security courses that are being taught at SIRTI on the Riverpoint Campus. There is still time to sign up, but do so immediately if you are interested. Call 359-6260 for information.

Encryption, Applications and Theory is a new class being taught by Dr. Ray Hamel and Dr. Atsushi Inoue, EWU CS. This course covers the theory and practice of keeping data secret and private on any network by encoding it into ‘encrypted form’. The class will cover the popular encryption methods Data Encryption Standard (DES), triple DES, the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), and many others. Uses of encryption, such as digital signatures and certificates, will be covered. This class will explain what makes encryption so hard to crack from a theory point of view, and will also give practical insight from the point-of-view of the systems administrator. Building walls against hackers will be a practical topic.

Information Warfare will continue Dr. John Shovic’s network security series. This class will cover the history and current realities of the ongoing battle between hackers, intruders, and other malicious forces operating over the Internet and the system administrators and users.

Topics found almost daily in the news will be covered including viruses, worms, database security, and denial of service. General issues like propaganda, misinformation, privacy, and disclosure on the network will be addressed. Dr. Shovic will draw on his personal experience with security systems to address issues from both theoretical and practical viewpoints.

Computer system upgrades at SIRTI for cyber security lab work will accompany the new courses being taught and being developed. These upgrades include Linux special kernels, special network configurations, special security configurations, and modified versions of Windows. All are needed to make the study and simulation of cyber attacks and defense from attacks possible in a lab environment.

Over $60,000 of new equipment has arrived in the SIRTI Software Engineering lab to construct an advanced Beowulf cluster. Most Beowulf clusters achieve their computing power in one way -- by dividing the work among many single processor computers. EWU's new computers are quad processor machines, which will allow a much more complex type of parallel problem attack. Each machine can divide the work four ways by itself, then working as a group; all the machines can share the overall job. This is much trickier to set up per problem, but can achieve supercomputer type results -- if all goes well.

In addition to general problems in computer science, Beowulf clusters can be applied to problems of cyber security. Examples of these problems are cracking coding schemes, developing advanced new coding schemes, and finding patterns of data that might signify an attack or the possibility of an attack on the system.

Billie Moreland
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