A News World — 16 July 2014

718px-National_Security_Agency.svgThe National Security Agency has chosen Capitol College of Laurel, Maryland as one of two academic partners to help NSA’s personnel stay ahead of the steepening cybersecurity curve.

The NSA’s Information Assurance mission–to quote its website–“confronts the formidable challenge of preventing foreign adversaries from gaining access to sensitive or classified national security information.”

Choosing Capitol as a partner makes sense. Its expertise in information assurance programs is well known. Capitol offers graduate degrees (both master’s and doctorate) in the field.

It will offer coursework to NSA employees enrolled in its SEED Program. SEED is an acronym for Security, Engineering and Enrichment Development.  Completing the three year program gives the NSA employee certification as what it calls a premier Information System Security Engineer (ISSE).

“We’re very excited about being selected to provide cybersecurity training as part of this program,” said Xavier A. Richards, Capitol’s Director of Graduate Recruitment. “We feel the flexibility that we offer, along with our strong curriculum, will prove highly attractive to NSA employees who are seeking to boost their credential and expertise.”

The announcement comes as more and more public attention is being focused on the cybersecurity threats facing government and business. In a special report out this week, The Economist writes about the issue, saying that companies, markets and countries are increasingly under attack by cyber criminals and need to get better at protecting themselves.

It quotes the Gartner research firm’s estimate that $67 billion has been spent by organizations around the world on information security in the last year. That number is only going to increase.

In addition to journalists, national leaders are also talking about it more. The White House issued a statement earlier this year that said, “cyber threats pose one of the greatest national security dangers.”

Recently, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said in statement, “cyber attacks present the great threat to our national and economic security today, and the magnitude of the threat is growing.”

NSA employees will have two choices for their SEED program coursework. Previously, training for SEED participation was offered exclusively by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), in Monterey, California via video teleconferencing on the Ft. Meade (Maryland) campus. That option continues or they can take it through Capitol, which offers all of the coursework online.

Richards also pointed out Capitol’s proximity to the NSA.

“We’re just a couple of exits down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway,” she said. “Students can come here and talk with the faculty and administration in person, or take advantage of the Cyber Lab, our library and other facilities.”

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Ed Coghlan

Ed is a former television news director at KCOP in Los Angeles and the Montana Television Network. He writes on health, economic and public affairs issues.

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