The NSA has run this “cyber oper­a­tions” pro­gram since 2012, working with North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, Dakota State, the Uni­ver­sity of Tulsa and the Naval Post­grad­uate School to design cur­ricula that match the agency’s intel­li­gence and infra­struc­ture needs. (CMU, the Air Force Insti­tute of Tech­nology, Auburn and Mis­sis­sippi State joined last week.) The pur­pose, says Carnegie Mellon’s Dena Har­itos Tsamitis, is to shift capa­bil­i­ties from “cyber defense” to “cyber offense.” It’s also to funnel the next gen­er­a­tion of ana­lysts and hackers directly to the NSA, CIA, Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies and contractors.

That mir­rors the cyber ops pro­gram at North­eastern, which, unlike the Carnegie Mellon pro­gram, is open to under­grad­u­ates. Com­puter sci­ence majors there study theory, pro­gram­ming lan­guages and other basics before five cyber ops-​​required classes: one on net­work archi­tec­ture, three on net­work and soft­ware secu­rity, and one on the fun­da­men­tals of radio, wire­less and cel­lular networks.

 

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