University of Cincinnati Recognized for Fight Against Cyber Crime

The United States National Security Agency, NSA, announced that that UC is among five universities named as Cyber Operations Centers of Academic Excellence.

Prof. Franco & Award

UC Prof. John Franco, center, receiving the Cyber Operations Certificate from Steve LaFountain, left, and Dr. Deborah Frincke, right, from the NSA.

Students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Systems (EECS) are eager to continue the crusade against cybercrime as the National Security Agency (NSA) and US CYBERCOMMAND have designated the University of Cincinnati (UC) as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations for 2014 – 2019. 

The certification was awarded in recognition of significant contributions supporting the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE): Building a Digital Nation, by “promoting deeply technical, interdisciplinary higher education programs that will produce an exceptional cadre of cybersecurity professionals with expertise in various disciplines related to specialized intelligence, military and lay enforcement cyber operations, and ultimately increasing the security posture of our Nation.”

The NSA granted UC the honor after three campus visits which highlighted a high level of cooperation and enthusiasm among faculty in computer science, computer engineering, political science and information technology along with a team of adjunct faculty from Northrop Grumman and General Electric Aviation who teach courses critical to the success of the cyber operation program.

Increasing reliance on complex computing systems (especially large-scale distributed systems and databases) and escalating sophistication of attackers requires highly-trained cyber operations professionals at all levels. For instance, cyber-ops specialists working at an operational level are trained to identify procedural vulnerabilities and suggest changes to remove them. Cyber-ops specialists working at the system administration level detect intrusions and attacks while preventing/limiting damage that they may incur. Operations systems-level cyber-ops specialists analyze code to detect anomalies & malware and also develop strategies that prevent/limit damage, while hardware-level cyber-ops specialists determine whether an off-shore implementation of a design contains any unexpected functionality.

The University of Cincinnati’s Cyber Operations Program provides the security and safety principles which are applicable to all operational and system levels and the foundations for building specific secure systems. Specialized components of cyber operations are also offered. Graduate students completing the program receive a certificate of proficiency in Cyber Operations and a Master of Science in Computer Science or Computer Engineering, depending on focus. Completion is also noted on their transcripts. Undergraduates may also receive this certificate through the ACCEND™ (Accelerated Engineering Degree) program.

Because of the NSA certification, many new opportunities are surfacing for the university. UC is eligible for government grants to further aid cyber security research. Collaborations are expanding between EECS and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT). Deji Badiru, PhD and Department Head of AFIT Systems Engineering, reflects, “We are always delighted to collaborate across institutional boundaries. Research is what binds [UC and AFIT] locally and we should exploit all opportunities. The AFIT-UC Cyber collaboration is a promising new venture.”

About the University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati is a top 25 public research university with its highest enrollment in history – more than 42,500 students. U.S. News & World Report ranks 34 of UC’s programs in the top 50 in the nation. UC also is the founder of the world’s first cooperative education program.

About the NSA

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) leads the U.S. Government in cryptology that encompasses both Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Information Assurance (IA) products and services, and enables Computer Network Operations (CNO) in order to gain a decisive advantage for the Nation and our allies under all circumstances. Source:

About AFIT

The Air Force Institute of Technology, or AFIT, is the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering and management as well as its institution for technical professional continuing education. The school, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, is a world leader for defense technological education, research and consultation. Source:

National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations release