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Degree partnership designed for next generation of cyber security experts

Cyber spying is the stuff of blockbuster movies, but it is also a very real nightmare for businesses and government agencies trying to keep their information secure in the age of internet communication.

Northrop Grumman subsidiary Xetron, based in Cincinnati, is partnering with the University of Cincinnati School of Computing Sciences and Informatics to offer its employees and graduate students at UC, coursework designed specifically to address some of the skills needed to prevent cyber security breeches. Students completing the coursework can earn a master's degree in computer science with a focus on cyber informatics.

"(Cyber security) issues are one of the most serious threats we face nationally," says Pabir Bhattacharya, director of the School of Computing Sciences and Informatics. "The more we use the Internet, the more we need to make our transactions secure. With mobile communication like cell phones there is an increased risk."

The 29 employees of Xetron enrolled in the coursework and the roughly two dozen graduate students at the UC campus will learn about skills such as encryption, detecting intrusion, maintaining a secure network and preventing viruses, spyware and malware, says Bhattacharya.

Classes will be held at both the UC campus as well as Northrop Grumman's Xetron facility, with live video feeds connecting the two locations. Both UC professors and Northrop Grumman employees working as adjunct professors for the university will teach.

Skills that students learn through the program are critical in today's information climate, says Martin Simoni, site director for Northrop Grumman's Xetron business unit.

"Educating and developing home-grown talent is critical in today's highly competitive job market," says Simoni. Our cyber master's program will allow our technical experts to groom students on the job and in the classroom."

About 20 percent of Xetron's engineering staff are UC graduates, says Bill Martini, director of engineering and operations, Northrop Grumman Xetron facility. "We want to educate (engineering students) so they can be better prepared for the work force," says Martini.

Sources: Pabir Bhattacharya, University of Cincinnati;  Martin Simoni and Bill Martini, Xetron
Writer: Val Prevish

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