Graduate Students Win Scholarships to Train as Specialists to Fight Cyberterrorism

By Donna Longenecker

Release Date: September 26, 2002 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two University at Buffalo graduate students have received coveted scholarships from the federal government that are designed to train specialists in the task of rooting out hackers, cyberterrorists and insider threats to the nation's information superhighway -- a task that has taken on an increasing urgency since Sept. 11, 2001.

Alexander Eisen of Williamsville and Melissa Thomas of Buffalo, both students in the UB Department of Computer Science and Engineering, were awarded the Information Assurance Scholarships by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The scholarships were awarded to the students because of UB's designation this spring as a Center of Excellence in Information Systems Assurance Research and Education (CEISARE), UB is one of 13 universities to receive the designation this year and among only 36 that have been named to date by the NSA.

Information assurance encompasses the scientific, technical and management disciplines required to ensure computer and network security.

The year-long competitive scholarship covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, lab expenses, supplies and equipment, as well as providing a $15,000 stipend for graduate students and $10,000 for undergraduates. The goal of the scholarship is to support the development of information assurance specialists within the Department of Defense. Eisen and Thomas will be required to serve internships with DOD agencies.

Shambhu Upadhyaya, UB associate professor of computer science and engineering and director of CEISARE, said companies and government research labs have taken extra steps to ensure information security and critical infrastructure protection.

"New initiatives such as Trusted Computing (National Science Foundation), Trustworthy Computing (Microsoft) and the Homeland Security Act were formed to address security in the post-Sept 11 era. Our students will contribute to some of these initiatives through their research," said Upadhyaya.

Eisen will serve his internship during 2003 with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in Arlington, Va. DISA is involved in information assurance, global combat-support systems and electronic commerce. At UB, he will be involved in various research activities with CEISARE, including working on electronic banking security.

Thomas will serve her internship in 2003 with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, Md. NAVAIR is involved in testing and evaluation, electronic warfare and survivability/vulnerability analysis, as well as other projects.