Colleges make cybersecurity pledge

Networking 2002

Higher education organizations have joined the fight to secure cyberspace by endorsing a framework for action.

"Colleges and universities have always played a major role in defending our country and keeping our economy healthy," said Richard Clarke, President Bush's cyberspace security adviser, speaking April 18 at a conference on policy affecting information technology in higher education. "So it's not just about protecting research going on at your [university]. It's about protecting your country."

The framework the organizations endorsed will serve as a basis for coordinating cybersecurity activities at the campus and national levels. It calls for:

* Making IT security a higher and more visible priority in higher education.

* Doing a better job with existing security tools, including revising institutional policies.

* Developing improved security for future research and education networks.

* Raising the level of security collaboration among higher education, industry and government.

* Integrating higher education work on security into the broader national effort to strengthen critical infrastructure.

Clarke further asked colleges and universities to develop their own strategies to defend "their bit of cyberspace" as the Bush administration works out a national plan. The framework provides a foundation for those strategies.

"The [framework] is a good first step in that direction," he said at the Networking 2002 event in Washington, D.C. Higher education organizations also can contribute research, training and education, he added.

"My only concern would be that once those [strategies] are submitted, there needs to be discussion and integration [on] state, local and university [levels]," said Marilu Goodyear, vice chancellor for information services at the University of Kansas.

Supporters of the framework include the American Association of Community Colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Research Libraries, the National Association of College and University Business Officers, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

Another effort under way on campuses is the Federal Cyber Service, which provides scholarships to students studying information technology security.

The National Science Foundation program, launched in September 2001, is operating at 10 universities. President Bush has requested funding to expand it to 20 schools and 440 students, Clarke said.

Under the program, with every year of financial support received comes a commitment to work a year in the federal government. The scholarships average $30,000.

"It's a terribly small program, I think, right now," Clarke said. "Frankly, 440 students is only going to be the tip of the iceberg of what we need."

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