The headlines are global and Dr. Susan Lincke, computer science professor and certified systems information auditor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, knows all too well the magnitude of cybercrime.
"Right now it's way too easy and we're all not secure enough," Lincke said. "If you talk to the people in security, they say there are two types of companies: companies that have been broken into and know it, and companies that have been broken into and don't know it."
Interpol, the international police organization, calls cybercrime "one of the fastest growing areas of crime." Criminals worldwide are exploiting technology's speed and anonymity. Attacks against computer data and systems, identity theft, penetration of online financial services, virus deployment, "Botnets," and email scams such as "phishing" are just a few of the tools at their disposal.
Inside the Cyber Security Lab
On the ground floor level of Molinaro Hall at UW-Parkside, computer science students are learning to detect--and prevent--cybercrime. The Cyber Security Laboratory is open only to students studying in this cutting edge field. It's isolated from the campus computer network, enabling students to investigate security issues without running the risk of being hacked from the outside or hacking the university network.
UW-Parkside has a variety of computer labs. However, inside the Cyber Security Laboratory, the environment is...different.
"The Cyber Security Lab does have a different atmosphere," said graduate computer information systems student and cyber security certificate holder Shannon McCumber. "There's a feeling of exclusivity."
Here, the object is to understand how break-ins occur and how to defend against them.
"Network security focuses on what's called 'pen testing' or penetration testing," Lincke said. "That is: How do you monitor to make sure your firewalls are working? Can you break into the network by looking at different servers and seeing what ports are open and then making sure that only the required ports are open?
"I show students how we can monitor the transmissions of what's happening to their computers. There's no way of breaking in without sending a packet over a line. And if you're monitoring what's happening on the line, then you know what's going on with your computer," Lincke said.
Undergraduates can earn a Cyber Security Certificate and students pursuing a master of science degree in computer information systems (MSCIS) can integrate cyber security into their studies.
"The Cyber Security Lab enables people to really understand security in all aspects, no matter how they want to focus their careers," Lincke said.
Business Professor Dr. Stephen Hawk, addresses cyber security in his M.B.A. class. "I was surprised by how many students were in the cyber security course. And most of them did not have a security background," he said.
Hawk, also a certified systems information auditor, is currently developing an online cyber security course to be offered worldwide through the UW System this summer.
Outside the Cyber Security Lab
Of course, not everything about computers and security can be learned inside a lab. Working through the university's Information Technology Practice Center, Lincke and her students have provided network monitoring, security planning and education, encryption, and other services to area businesses, nonprofits, government entities, and educational facilities.
Seeking Security Certification
In late March 2013, UW-Parkside received certification for the National Training Standard for Information Systems Security. This is the first step in becoming a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in IA Education. (NSA CAE/IAE). That, Lincke said, will serve as a strong credential for graduates seeking careers in cyber security. She added that full NSA CAE/IAE certification is a strong possibility by 2014.
The headlines about cybercrime are disturbing raising concerns about global financial stability, international trade relations, and public safety. With the help of the Cyber Security Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Parkside students are positioned to have a positive impact on global data security.In the photo, Dr. Susan Lincke, second from right, works with UW-Parkside computer students, from left, Raul Barrera, Charles Huggins, and Kristen Thompson.