Students in Norwich University’s Master of Science in Information Security & Assurance (MSISA) had the fortune to participate in a pair of educational experiences exclusive to Norwich University’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS), running June 13-21: the second annual “Hack-a-thon” and the inaugural Forensics Exercise. The culmination of students’ classroom education, both the hacking and forensics exercises were fully immersive in nature with the intention of giving participants the chance to apply their knowledge to real-world scenarios in forensics and cybersecurity.
Additionally, the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies was proud to present the first annual Cyber Security Summit, which focused on bringing together industry luminaries during the 2017 Residency Conference to explore current policies and anticipate trends in cyber security.
MSISA students participating in the Hack-a-thon, sponsored by Comcast, had the opportunity to conduct real world, hands-on vulnerability assessments and perform penetration tests on the information technology of a local business. This relationship proved mutually beneficial—students gained practical experience in cyber security while the participating business learned about vulnerabilities in its systems and how to rectify said insufficiencies. Released from the constraints of the classroom setting, participants were able to explore the boundaries of ethics and develop business acumen and communication techniques to complement their technological prowess. As a result, students were able to gather and analyze cyber intelligence and extrapolate outcomes based on data trends and observable evidence.
The forensics exercise, meanwhile, represented the continuing evolution of Norwich’s commitment to immersive education. The exercise began with the discovery of a (dummy) body in the Dog River; from there, the MSISA student investigators followed a trail of physical and digital evidence spanning four crime scenes. As with the Hack-a-thon, the forensics exercise was supervised but not tightly controlled by an instructor.
The exercise focused specifically on the growing role of digital evidence in physical instances of crime, from credit card trails to cyber correspondence. Gina Conroy, an MSISA program graduate with a concentration in Computer Forensic Investigation & Incident Response Team Management, feels the exercise is indicative of emerging patterns in forensic investigation. “As our reliance on technology continues to grow, we anticipate that cloud computing will play an increasingly crucial role in forensic investigations.” Supporting Ms. Conroy and her fellow participants in their endeavor were a number of local and state institutions, such as the Northfield Police Department, the Vermont State Police and the Chief Deputy State’s Attorney. Through their association with the aforementioned, the MSISA student forensic investigators gained access to indispensable technology and information; participants were able to utilize a sophisticated mobile crime lab and were given a four-hour intensive course in investigative practices and procedures. “I was treated as a legitimate investigator,” says Conroy. “We were given a crash course in everything from proper documentation of evidence to the trigonometry of blood spatter based on the weapon used. We had to be on our game.”
Rounding out the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies’ offerings as part of the 2017 Residency Conference was the Cyber Security Summit which brought together industry leaders from various disciplines. The summit was well attended by thought leaders from diverse sectors of business, such as education, entertainment and manufacturing, to name a few. These individuals had the opportunity to discuss trends in cyber security, as well as combine their vast individual expertise in order to address solutions to the issues plaguing the industry. Among the topics covered at this three-day seminar were the evolving sophistication of cyberattacks; technological advancements in countering cyber threats; cyber security challenges in the entertainment industry and changes in Internet security and communication technologies.