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$800,000 Grant from FEMA Establishes National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium

For release: November 26, 2013
For press information, contact Gabrielle Maxey, 901/678-2843

The University of Memphis Center For Information Assurance (CfIA), along with the University of Texas at San Antonio Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security and the University of Arkansas’ Criminal Justice Institute, has received a three-year, $800,000 grant to develop one new training course and update five existing training courses that will help states and communities better prepare for, detect and respond to cyber attacks. The courses will address cyber security awareness, policy, monitoring and incident response, disaster recovery, business continuity and risk/vulnerability management.

Additionally, the grant formally establishes the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium (NCPC), which includes these three universities as well as Texas A&M University Engineering Extension Service and Norwich University Applied Research Institutes.

“Each of the five universities in this consortium is very skilled at developing and delivering cyber security preparedness training or exercise support,” said Greg White, director of the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security. “Many times, the communities we train have a great start, but they are missing some of the strategies necessary to implement successful and sustainable cyber security preparedness and response programs. Among communities with a plan, we commonly see inconsistencies that would prevent multiple entities from working together to respond to a cyber attack.”

The Community Cyber Security Maturity Model (CCSMM), developed by the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, offers a framework around which the Consortium’s activities revolve. Each of the members of the Consortium addresses a different, necessary piece of the model. This results in a more coordinated multi-university program and helps states and communities better prepare for inevitable cyber security incidents.

As part of this grant, the Developing a Community Cyber Security Program course will be created. This course will provide community leaders, network/security technical personnel and individual users an understanding of what it takes to develop a coordinated approach to securing networks and computers in their communities. The course will explore each person’s role and responsibility within the community and how each fits into a coordinated program. Additionally, the course will introduce trainees to the various courses offered by the Consortium partners and the Department of Homeland Security.

Since technology becomes outdated quickly, the Consortium will also update five existing cyber security preparedness courses with support from the FEMA grant.

In 2006, the University of Memphis developed its ACT Online training program, a series of 10 cyber security preparedness courses, which have been hosted online by the Texas Engineering Extension Service Texas A&M University since 2009. Since they were originally offered, nearly 22,000 students have taken the courses. With funding from the FEMA grant, U of M Computer Science Professor Dipankar Dasgupta and his team will update three of its training courses: Cyber Incident Analysis and Response, Business Information Continuity and Information Risk Management. New technology and security issues will be incorporated in the courses to keep them current.

The University of Arkansas’ Criminal Justice Institute will update two courses: Comprehensive Cyberterrorism Defense and Cyberterrorism First Responder. The courses, each delivered in a blended format over a four-and-a-half day period, are designed for technical individuals who have the responsibility of actually defending computer systems and networks.

Since 2004, NCPC members have developed and delivered cyber security and cyber terrorism training and exercise support nationwide to a targeted audience of community leaders and critical infrastructure technical personnel. Their programs have reached individuals in all 50 states, garnering Consortium members widespread recognition among state and local government leaders and information technology departments, federal and law enforcement agencies, colleges and universities, training academies and other related organizations throughout the U.S.

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