Infosec Education Needs Revamping, Professor Warns

WASHINGTON (08/14/2000) - A report to be published this year by one of the nation's top educators in information systems and security warns that the current system of higher education cannot support the demand for information assurance professionals and calls for a revolutionary change in the way the government, academia and industry cooperate.

"The present national need for an immediate increase in the development of information assurance professionals at all levels cannot be met within the existing educational structure," said professor Corey Schou, chairman of the National Colloquium on Information Systems Security Education and associate dean of Information Systems at Idaho State University.

In his report, "Meeting the Information Assurance Crisis - Now," Schou recommends a nine-point cooperative plan between government, industry and academia that he says has the potential to generate up to 100 doctoral candidates, 200 to 500 master's degree students and 5,000 bachelor's degree students annually with an emphasis in information assurance.

Government plays a key role in assisting educators to produce a steady pipeline of well-educated information security professionals, according to Schou. He has urged government to establish a competitive grant process covering "grand challenge" problems in information assurance, selective internships that would provide students and faculty with practical experience, government/academic staff exchanges and even a program that would forgive student loans for graduate students at the master's and doctoral degree level, among other things.

Schou also called for improved training resources for university faculty members across the country and even suggested that government should help establish a distance-learning program in information assurance and the ethical use of information targeted at elementary and secondary education teachers.

"Failure to respond proactively to a similar need a decade ago has contributed to the current national shortage of information technology professionals," Schou said. "Without external stimulus and support, there is no way the educational system can meet the demand in the foreseeable future."

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