NSF launching grants for cybercorps

The National Science Foundation is expected to release applications next

month for grants that would fund the Federal Cyber Services program designed

to train the next generation of digital defenders.

The NSF grants would be available to colleges and universities, which

would use the money to award scholarships to students to study information

assurance. These students would receive the scholarships in exchange for

full-time employment with a federal agency upon graduation. The students

would help protect the government's systems from cyberattack.

NSF hopes to announce by September or October which schools will receive

the grants and hopes to award the actual student scholarships by January

2001, said Shirley Malia, program manager for education and training with

the government's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, speaking at the

FOSE conference.

Malia said plans also are under way to establish a virtual nationwide

network of training centers that offer information assurance courses. The

courses would match a set of competencies for information assurance professionals

that the Office of Personnel Management is developing. The hope is that

agencies would use these centers to keep their cybersecurity workers trained.

"If we don't keep the skills of information assurance [workers] up-to-date,

we are extremely vulnerable," Malia said.

The Cyber Services and virtual training network projects are dependent

on fiscal 2001 funding to proceed, Malia said.

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