Johns Hopkins to train new cybersecurity experts with help of $2.2M grant

National Science Foundation funding will support 3 or 4 master's students annually beginning in spring semester of 2016

At a time when cybersecurity attacks are more frequent and damaging, the National Science Foundation has awarded $2.2 million to the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute to support a graduate-level degree program that teaches students how to recognize and protect against digital threats.

The grant will be allocated over five years as part of the Federal CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service Program. The program provides students with scholarships covering tuition, fees, and required books, as well as a stipend. In return, the program requires that after graduation, the students work for a federal, state, local, or tribal government in a job related to computer security for a period equal to the duration of their education scholarship, which includes a summer internship.

At Johns Hopkins, the five-year NSF grant is expected to support three or four students annually as they complete the Information Security Institute's three-semester Master of Science in Security Informatics (MSSI) degree program. This program offers students an option to simultaneously earn a dual degree in computer science, applied math and statistics, health sciences or national security studies.

The first scholarships will be available for students beginning their MSSI degree studies in the spring 2016 semester.

The curriculum of the of the security informatics degree program is based on practical and up-to-date knowledge in the field. The classes expose students to practical experience exercises and teach them other valuable skills, such as project management. The goal is to make sure that when the students graduate, they are well prepared to take on a variety of cybersecurity-related responsibilities and challenges.

Anton Dahbura, executive director of the university's Information Security Institute and principal investigator for the NSF grant, said that cybersecurity is arguably one of the most important challenges confronting society in the information age.

"No one is exempt from malicious cyber acts that prey upon imperfect technologies," he said. "This NSF grant is significant because the funds will support U.S. students as they complete our master's program here and prepare them to pursue their careers in cybersecurity, starting with service to a government entity."

Dahbura added that the grant will help Johns Hopkins participate in an innovative and efficient nationwide education system aimed at creating an unrivaled cybersecurity workforce. Developing well-trained U.S. guardians of the digital world, Dahbura said, is critical to national security, continued economic growth, and future technological innovation in secure cyberspace.

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