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NM Tech relaunches cyber war program

Very few computer systems have proven completely safe from hackers around the globe in recent years.

The federal government has been a victim. So have private businesses such as Target.

Students from New Mexico Tech have an opportunity to do something about it, to join the front line in the cyber war.

New Mexico Tech is the recipient of a $1.6 million grant for the training of professionals to help fight cyber attacks and cyber terrorism.

Two students are part of the relaunching of the program at Tech, which has seen more than 50 graduates take cyber security positions at government agencies and private industries throughout the country, including the Department of Homeland Security, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

At least two more students will be part of the program when the spring semester begins in January.

“There is still time for students to apply to the program in January,” said Lorie Liebrock, dean of graduate studies at Tech.

Liebrock oversees the CyberCorp program. New Mexico Tech became involved in the program and was certified by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

Funding for the program was halted because of government sequestration, Liebrock said.

Liebrock is hoping the news about the recent cyber attacks will help with the recruitment of students for the program.

“This is a chance to make a huge difference,” Liebrock said.

The grant will fully fund scholarships for students involved in the program, which requires students to do an internship in addition to the education and research training in the cyber-security field. The program is open to undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students.

Students involved with the program receive fellowship stipends, tuition and fees, support for professional development and a computer system. The students from a variety of disciplines – management, computer science, information technology, electrical engineering and mathematics – have been involved with the program.

Students in the program have specialized in digital forensics, health systems security, enterprise security, operating system security, regulation and policy construction, reconfigurable and adaptive systems, systems and security administration, intrusion detection, corporate policy analysis and development, vulnerability analysis, malware detection and containment, wireless security, biometrics and bioinformatics and cryptology.

Liebrock said Tech is recruiting students who will be the “right fit” for the program.

“And not every student is the right fit,” Liebrock said.

One characteristic for the right fit would be an interest in government service.

Even then, Liebrock said, the program will help steer students in the direction where they might be the most comfortable.

“Someone might not be the right fit for the DOD (Department of Defense), but they might be for the postal service,” Liebrock said.

New Mexico Tech partners with places such as Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory to place students in fellowships and internships.

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