Cybersecurity

Program Director: David Voorhees

The mission of the cybersecurity program is to provide a strong foundation in societal, technical and policy topics that influence cybersecurity issues, with the goal of enabling students to pursue a wide range of educational and employment opportunities.

Three concentrations are included in this program:

  • Crime, Society & Culture
  • Information & System Security
  • Policy & Law

This program's strength is in the liberal arts tradition - students receive broad exposure to cybersecurity topics that span the social sciences and security technology. Students will probe the meanings and motivations behind cyber security threats, protective needs, and the role and limitations of technology. The program courses are meant to bring together critical thinking, effective communications, and the ability to meaningfully connect concepts, policies, technologies, and their critiques.

All students majoring in cybersecurity shall complete seven common course requirements – two covering crime, society & culture, three covering information & system security, and two covering policy & law. This is followed by a student completing six courses in their selected concentration and two courses in a cross-over concentration. The two cross-over courses allow a student to increase their breadth of exposure to topics covered in another concentration. See the requirements page for a complete description of the cybersecurity major.

This program’s interdisciplinary approach is unique in that it presents broad coverage of policy, societal and technical topics, while allowing a student to specialize by selecting a concentration. This program is a strong example of liberal arts education that is clearly distinguishable from programs at peer institutions, which tend to emphasize only the technical aspect of cybersecurity. A 2014 paper published by the National Council in the Social Studies1 includes the following quote.

... the disciplines of the social sciences promote ways of knowing and deliberating about data and information that are critical to policy development and the implementation of cybersecurity initiatives. Building the capacity of the next generation of social scientists to tackle these emerging issues is imperative.

In addition, a summary report from a workshop on social science, computer science, and cybersecurity held in 20132 included white papers written by the attendees. The following is a quote from one of the computer scientists in attendance at this workshop.

The fact that humans from several different walks of life are interacting with these systems on a daily basis has prompted a paradigm shift: rather than designing secure systems with arbitrarily defined use models, we must design secure systems with use models informed by how people interact with each other, computers, and information. This security paradigm necessitates a close collaboration between technical and social scientists so that the design of secure systems incorporates an understanding of the needs and capabilities of the billions of people that will rely on them.

Upon completion of this cybersecurity program, a student shall be able to:

  1. Articulate critiques of current cybersecurity policies and laws, especially from the perspective of the disempowered.
  2. Explain current policies and laws and their impact on cybersecurity.
  3. Articulate how criminological, sociological and anthropological theories help us to understand the motivations, global patterns, and potential targets for cybercrime and cybercrime communities.
  4. Explain how criminological, sociological and anthropological data collection strategies help understand the vulnerabilities and potential targets related to cybercrime so as to help create policies and programs that help protect society.
  5. Demonstrate ability to assess security risks associated with technical and human factors for individuals, communities and organizations.
  6. Formulate policies, operational procedures, and technology solutions that proactively address vulnerabilities, threats, and risks.

1. Berson, M. J., & Berson, I. R. (2014). Bringing the Cybersecurity Challenge to the Social Studies Classroom. Social Education (National Council for the Social Studies), 78(2), 96-100.

2. Hofman, L. J. (2013). Social Science, Computer Science, and Cybersecurity, Workshop Summary Report. Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute, The George Washington University, Report GW-CSPRI-2013-02 retrieved on October 21, 2016 from https://www.seas.gwu.edu/~cspri/s/Final-08-22-13-1301-Report-Social-Science-66cn.pdf

CYS 167. Introduction to Cybersecurity. 3 Credit Hours.

This course introduces cybersecurity and the NIST Framework from three different perspectives: technology, societal dynamics in cybercrime, and policy and law. Cybersecurity principles including confidentiality, integrity and availability as well as assurance, authenticity and anonymity are demonstrated via examples from each perspective. Students gain awareness of the broad scope of cybersecurity through readings, discussions, and hands-on exercises.

CYS 263. Introduction to Cybersecurity Risk and Protection Strategies. 3 Credit Hours.

This course focuses on cyber risks faced by individuals and organizations, and protection mechanisms to mitigate these risks. Examples are used to demonstrate risks posed by data at rest, data in use, and data in transit. This course will cover statistical models of risk, different risk assessment strategies (including the NIST 800 series) and methods of protecting information systems and data from unauthorized access and use. The strengths and limitation of protection mechanisms will be discussed, and will include access control, encryption, credentialing, operational policies and procedures, and risk mitigation policies (e.g., password update policy, least privilege). Students will get hands on experience on risk assessment and protection mechanisms.

Prerequisite: CYS 167 Introduction to Cybersecurity.

CYS 269. Introduction to Detectin, Response, & Recovery Strategies. 3 Credit Hours.

This course covers detection mechanisms that focus on identifying abnormal versus normal behaviors, and response and recovery actions based on a detected cybersecurity incident. The strengths and limitations of detection mechanisms will be discussed, and will include detecting abnormal behavior, performing continuous monitoring, and analyzing data from multiple sources. response and recovery planning and implementation of these plans will be discussed. Students will get hands on experience on protection mechanisms, and response and recovery planning.

Prerequisite: CYS 167 Introduction to Cybersecurity.

CYS 331. Network Fundamentals. 3 Credit Hours.

This course provides an introduction to modern communication networks and to tools for monitoring and securing them. Students learn about network infrastructure (WAN, LAN, Wireless, Firewalls), communication services and protocols (DNS, TCP/IP,HTTP) and how information flow through networks. Students will install and configure components such as routers, hubs, and switches and use tools for monitoring packets and securing networks (including Wireshark and Scapy).

Prerequisites: CYS 263, CYS 269 and CSC 175.

CYS 337. Scripting for Cybersecurity. 3 Credit Hours.

Students will learn to implement scripts to automate cybersecurity functions of protection and detection using python and linux shell. Detection related applications include system administration tasks, firewall maintenance, scanning log files, malware development and detection. Protection related applications include encryption, signatures, hash functions, access control mechanisms, authentication, and database account management statements (e.g., grant, revoke).

Prerequisites: CYS 263 CYS 269 and CSC 175.

CYS 347. System and Software Security. 3 Credit Hours.

This course gives an introduction to secure administration of operating systems and software. Common vulnerabilities, their associated attacks and current defenses in systems and software are discussed. Students are introduced to penetration testing and other means of detecting vulnerabilities. Students also learn system administration skills for managing configurations (hardware and software), accounts, access control, firewalls, ports, patches and virtual machines and to create simple scripts. Both Linux/Unix and Windows operating systems are discussed.

Prerequisites: CYS 263 CYS 269 and CSC 175.

CYS 349. Digital Forensics: Recovering From and Responding to an Attack. 3 Credit Hours.

This course focuses on methods to retrieve and analyze evidence of attacks from digital media. This includes methods such as using registry structures and other operating system processes on Linux and Windows environments, and in detecting attacks in networked environments. Response planning and recovery after an attack are also discussed.

Prerequisites: CSC 175, CYS 263 and CYS 269.

CYS 390. Cybersecurity Independent Study. 1-9 Credit Hours.

A student who wishes to pursue an independent study project for academic credit must submit, prior to registration, a proposed plan of study that includes the topic to be studied and goal to be achieved, the methodology to be followed, schedule of supervision, end product, evaluation procedure and number of credits sought. The proposal must be approved by the supervising faculty member, the department chair and the academic dean. It will be kept on file in the academic dean's office.

CYS 431. Introduction to Network Security. 3 Credit Hours.

This course discusses security objectives and methods for securing modern networks. The fundamentals of network infrastructure and communication protocols are reviewed to identify how security threats and vulnerabilities arise. Defensive tools such as authentication, access controk, encryption, intrusion detections, VPNs, firewalls, anonymous communication, and VoIP security are surveyed including the trade-offs and limitations of each. Students will get hands on experience using defensive tools.

Prerequisites: CYS 331.

CYS 490. Cybersecurity Internship. 1-12 Credit Hours.

A service learning course where students complete CISRM identified projects or an internship.

Prerequisite: Junior or Senior level standing.