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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion to Offer Cyber Security Major in Interdisciplinary Degree

Beginning in fall, 2015, Old Dominion University will offer a Cyber Security major in the University's Interdisciplinary Studies degree program to train students for careers in high-demand fields such as digital forensics, analysis, information system security and network security administration.

The major was established in conjunction with the recent launch of Old Dominion's new Center for Cyber Security Education and Research that serves as a multiple-discipline hub of expertise in the international fight against Internet-based crimes.

"Research and education on cyber security is critically needed in order to safeguard the infrastructures of governments and businesses alike," said Provost Carol Simpson. "At Old Dominion University we have internationally-recognized faculty who are leaders in studying and teaching about cyber security. What sets our initiative apart from others is that we are addressing cyber security from an interdisciplinary framework."

The Center, which was developed by the Office of Academic Affairs through its interdisciplinary initiatives, brings together experts from across the University, including faculty and staff from the College of Arts and Letters, Strome College of Business, Darden College of Education, Batten College of Engineering and Technology and College of Science as well as staff from Instructional Technology Services, VMASC, the Tri-Cities Higher Education Center and Military Affairs.

Students interested in the Cyber Security major will pursue the Bachelor of Science degree through the Interdisciplinary Studies (IDS) program in the College of Arts and Letters. The program will be led by Youssif Al-Nashif, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the director of the University's Center for Cyber Security Education and Research. Al-Nashif was part of the team that created the NSF Cloud and Autonomic Computing (CAC) center at the University of Arizona before he joined ODU. Tamer Nadeem, Department of Computer Science, is associate director of the Center.

Instruction in Cyber Security will provide graduates with the skills necessary to protect computer systems, networks, and electronic data from attack and compromise. In this new major, students will learn to identify and troubleshoot potential security lapses through classroom instruction, hands-on computer lab sessions and opportunities to participate in faculty research projects. Courses for the four year, 120-hour major will be drawn from computer science, computer engineering and engineering management, information technology and decision science, information assurance, wireless networking, criminal justice, philosophy and psychology. Students will learn how to collect forensic evidence in prosecution of cybercrime or maintenance of network security.

Program graduates may go on to work in the fields of Cybersecurity Analysis, Digital Forensics, Information System Security, and Network Security Administration. According to May, 2013, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage estimate for information security analysts was $91,210, nationwide; and $106,350 in Virginia.

A 2014 report from the Ponemon Institute ranked the United States as the country with the highest average cost of cyber-crime at $12.7 million per incident. Cyber security experts from government, industry and higher education consistently point to the multi-disciplinary nature of cyber security as one of the key features of strategies built to protect cyber environments.

Al-Nashif said Cyber-attacks are increasing in their quantity, quality and complexity while impacting many aspects of daily life, including: banking, healthcare, business, critical infrastructure, education and even entertainment.

"Depending on scattered research groups to solve these cyber security challenges is no longer sufficient," Al-Nashif said. "The best course of action is to stand up to current and future cyber security challenges by raising awareness through education and unifying research expertise. This is what the ODU Cyber Security Center of Education and Research is all about."

Those involved in the creation of the Center come from a variety of disciplines, including computer science; electrical engineering; computer engineering; modeling and simulation; engineering management; systems engineering; information technology; philosophy; criminal justice; and psychology.

The specific objectives of the center are to:

  • Promote awareness about cyber security, cyber forensics and cyber operations from a multidisciplinary framework
  • Coordinate interdisciplinary academic programming related to cyber security
  • Expand the pipeline for a cyber security workforce through focused education programs for a diverse group of learners
  • Facilitate a whole of government approach for responding to cyber security issues
  • Provide training and research to the military with a specific focus on topics related to homeland security and infrastructure needs
  • Serve as a clearinghouse for cyber security academic programming, research, training and prevention tools

"This center exemplifies our efforts to promote interdisciplinary solutions to complex societal issues," Simpson said. "We look forward to watching the center contribute in meaningful ways to our students, our Hampton Roads community and the global community."

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