Grant Partnership With Mt. SAC to Address Information Security Needs

Mt. San Antonio College and Cal Poly Pomona have been awarded a three-year $900,000 grant to develop new courses and degree programs that will train information security professionals to guard against computer crime.

Coined the Regional Information Systems Security Center project, the grant helps forge a partnership between Mt. SAC and Cal Poly Pomona that will offer new certificate, associate?s, bachelor?s, and master?s degree programs in information systems security. This will be first information systems security program of its kind in Southern California.

“The NSF grant will enable Mt. San Antonio College and Cal Poly Pomona to develop a model of collaboration that addresses the information assurance curriculum needs of our schools and the surrounding community, providing a foundation for a regional center in information systems security,” says Daniel Manson, Computer Information Systems (CIS) professor who is assisting with the coordination of the project.

Funded through a National Science Foundation grant, the Information Systems Security project responds to the need for information security at businesses and agencies to combat the growing threat of breaches and computer crime. Everything from computer viruses to hackers to credit card fraud represents a potential threat.

“Basically every household and business that has Internet connectivity should know there?s a risk,” says Mt. SAC CIS professor John Blyzka, who is coordinating the project.

According to a 2002 Computer Security Institute/FBI computer crime and security survey, corporations and government agencies face continued security breaches and serious financial losses as a result of computer crime. Attacks on business information systems and internal and external networks have mounted as companies increase their Internet presence with e-commerce, Web applications and private networks.

The educational collaboration calls for the creation of new classes and enhancing existing classes. Beginning next fall, information systems classes will be infused with elements of information security such as personal Web server security, user and group security, and auditing and monitoring.

Another 12 new courses will be developed in areas including access control systems and methodology, business continuity and disaster recovery planning, cyberlaw, and telecommunications and network security.

The partnership project also addresses a goal set by legislation through the Cyber Security Research and Development Act, HR 3394, that took effect July 1. Through the legislation, the federal government plans to educate, train, and place 10,000 information systems security professionals by 2010.

“There?s a lot of work for information technology professionals right now, mostly in application development, and that is now refocusing on security,” says Blyzka.

A formal announcement of the grant award will be made at a meeting of the advisory board on Wednesday, July 16, 4 p.m., in the CLA's Heritage Conference Room.

The partnership between Mt. SAC and Cal Poly Pomona is just part of a more extensive relationship between the two institutions, which has included several beneficial collaborations over the years. In April 2001, the two institutes signed a partnership agreement to increase the number of transfers from Mt. SAC to Cal Poly Pomona, eliminate barriers for students enrolled in partnership programs between the two institutions, and create a seamless transition for students who transfer.