The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has granted Michigan-based Ferris State University’s Information Security and Intelligence program $130,000 to support them in developing a dark web and social media analysis curriculum with a focus on cybersecurity and cryptocurrency.
The NSA will also provide the necessary classroom tools and training for the faculty. The grant is due to the strong presence of Ferris State University in the digital forensics field.
In summer of 2013, Ferris State University’s Information Security and Intelligence program (ISI) was designated by the Department of Defense as a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence.
The program’s strength, since its beginnings in 2007, has been its focus on the integration of cybersecurity and data analytics.
This focus on analysis has also prompted a larger number of female enrollments than would otherwise have been expected from a technical program.
Director of Ferris’ Center of Cyber Security and Data Science Greg Gogolin, explained in a statement that the majority of ISI’s dark web and social media analysis courses are approached from a marketing perspective.
In contrast, the NSA grant will for the first time allow these analyses to be approached from a cryptocurrency and security perspective.
The Goals of the Grant
Gogolin noted that cybersecurity incidents are becoming more and more of a threat on personal, corporate and national levels.
The grant will make it possible for Ferris State University to teach partner organizations and students about the ways of investigating criminal offenses that involve the dark web, cryptocurrency and social media.
College of Business Assistant Professor Jason Otting is among numerous ISI faculty with experience in the legal system and collaboration the Michigan State Police Cyber Crime Lab.
He explained that the program has been trying to tackle the problem with cybercrime for over 10 years and stated that the grant will not only help people to defend themselves against cyberattacks but also to find those who profit from using the dark web for illegal activities.
Another goal is for cyber competitions connected to the dark web, cryptocurrency and social media analysis to be held in the FSU Cyber Competition Center.
The main focus of the competitions is to attract people who have developed an interest in cybersecurity to the ISI program.
They believe that showing students a variety of specialty areas and getting them to work on different types of puzzles will be a valuable exercise for students considering these fields as a future career path.
The competition will be held throughout the whole year, through a course of six events.
FSU College of Business Assistant Professor Jim Furstenberg, who also serves as co-primary investigator of the grant, said that there is a high demand for researchers with this particular skill set.
He currently leads a team of security experts in the Michigan Cyber Civilian Corps, who volunteer in order to support State investigations of cybersecurity incidents.
Furstenberg explains that because of the “criminal and state-sponsored infrastructure involved in malicious activity” that is present on multiple levels, there is a need for more cybersecurity professionals who are trained to successfully fight the cyber war.