February 15th, 2019
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05/31/2002 - EWU Computer Science Launches Cyber Security

Fifty-seven unopened computer boxes --- now stacked in fortress-like walls and bastions in the EWU-operated SIRTI Software Engineering Laboratory --- represent the entering wedge of a $200,000 ‘summer sprint’ to begin a program in cyber security within the EWU department of computer science (CS). Fueled by the million-dollar federal allocation for the EWU School of Computing and Engineering Sciences, the launch --- starting this June --- includes additional new equipment purchasing, installation and configuration, community outreach, and a wide variety of new cyber security course development at EWU.

A major component of the summer’s effort will be the startup of the Inland Northwest Security Systems Institute (INSSI), now under development. With a mission of security systems education, project development, and applied research, INSSI was conceived by EWU CS this April and publicly announced at the TechNet /INTEC cyber security workshop on May 9th.

Overseeing the EWU CS security efforts will be INSSI's new director, Dr Atsushi Inoue. Dr Inoue will make appropriate use of his academic specialty area, ‘soft computing’ in artificial intelligence, and his industrial experience. This work includes software development at Hitachi nuclear power plants in Japan, as well as secured credit transactions over the Internet. Dr Steve Simmons, founder of the Terabyte Triangle, will serve as INSSI coordinator, taking responsibility for outreach to the Inland Northwest technology community this coming summer. The outreach will address student internship opportunities, security education development, and possible joint projects with regional industry partners.

Simultaneously this summer, a group of eight EWU faculty will start course development in cyber security. The first new course is scheduled to debut in the summer of 2003. New courses under development include topics in cryptanalysis and the foundations of information theory, database security, secure practices in programming, network security, security issues in operating systems, and biometric applications to security systems.

The department’s summer work will be coordinated with an overall EWU university computer systems security upgrade. "One of the most appealing assets of a smaller university like EWU," says Simmons, "is that collaborations are possible that would not occur in a larger, more compartmentalized, university." As a result, EWU's network staff and security director will work with faculty at EWU CS in new equipment selection, configuration, security policies, and contribute course ideas to give a real-world immediate relevance to EWU’s new cyber security classes.

Less than a year ago, the Code Red computer worm ravaged the Internet, infecting more than 250,000 systems in under nine hours and causing $2.6 billion in damages. In the same time period --- during which computer virus and worm attacks have become almost a monthly disruption ---more unusual local attacks have substantially increased. For example, computers containing vulnerable client records were stolen from the EWU Fitness Center. The Spokane County web site was attacked and defaced by Brazilian hackers. According to Simmons “Malicious hackers, crackers, and cyber attackers are on the offensive --- so it is a pressing local concern to help educate a savvy counterforce and develop effective countermeasures.”

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