Research Summaries

Back Monarch: Cyber Corps Through Metamorphosis

Fiscal Year 2013
Division Graduate School of Operational & Information Sciences
Department Computer Science
Investigator(s) Gondree, Mark A.
Huffmire, Theodore D.
Irvine, Cynthia E.
Sponsor National Science Foundation (NSF)
Summary Recent incidents have amply demonstrated the susceptibility of both the Federal and civilian cyber infrastructure to attack. National leaders now assert that the U.S. is in a state of cyber war and that, should this conflict escalate, the consequences could be catastrophic, not only for our government, but also for broad sectors of the economy: telecommunications, power, transportation, communications, and finance.
Cyber security is essential for our continued safety and prosperity and also enables innovation and the adoption of new technologies, thus advancing our nation’s leadership in many areas. The specification, design, development, deployment and defense of government cyber systems benefits not only Federal agencies, but, more broadly, the people of the United States. Today, the personnel needed to accomplish these tasks are in short supply. Fewer young people are enrolling in university computer science programs. Further, the Federal sector has growing requirements for more cyber experts in the face of looming retirements of many experienced personnel. The Monarch project at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) offers a unique, dual-pronged approach to the cyber security personnel crisis: matriculate a mixture of students, most with CS undergraduate degrees, and also some very promising students with interdisciplinary backgrounds.
For over forty years, a hallmark of NPS has been its ability to transform select military officers with little background in computer science into CS professionals. Qualified students enter an intense three-quarter core CS program comprised of undergraduate CS material. They then segue into Masters-level work, which is completed at the end of their second year. In addition to accepting applicants with CS undergraduate degrees, the Monarch project, will apply this transformative process to cyber security by recruiting a small number of students with technical aptitude, but little or no formal computer science studies.
Students will engage in a specially designed computer security track at CISR, one of the preeminent higher education programs combining research and studies in Cyber Security and Information Assurance. This three-year Cyber Corps program will continue our ongoing Scholarship for Service effort by matriculating eight students annually for two years. With a Masters-level education in the science and practice of Information Assurance these graduates will be available and obligated to perform two years of Federal service. To date, all graduates of the NPS program have been placed at government agencies.
Through small faculty-taught classes involving extensive laboratory exercises and projects, students learn to design, build, configure, and manage systems and networks securely. Students study along with U.S. Government civilians and military officers, thus accelerating the process of acculturation for subsequent government service. The program provides students with a firm grounding in the foundations of computer science and conveys concepts and techniques vital for understanding cyber security science and technology. Students will receive regular mentoring on curriculum and employment options. Experience in leadership and teambuilding are fostered through projects and laboratory exercises. Completion of thesis research projects ensures that students have an appreciation of the challenges in cyber security and provides valuable experience in research, critical thinking, and writing.
Intellectual Merit: Our unique educational capabilities provide graduates who are well prepared to fill the Nation’s need for cyber defense expertise. Through mentored thesis research, the Monarch Project will contribute to the cyber security through thesis publication and possible subsequent refereed papers. The NPS faculty will continue to extend existing courses and develop new ones as the science of cyber security evolves. These pedagogical developments will be made available through conference publications.
Broader Impact: The Monarch project will reduce the current personnel gap in cyber security for the national information infrastructure. The project is unique in that it will not only provide Masters-level education to traditionally educated computer science graduates, but will also demonstrate that individuals with aptitude can make the leap to computer science and information assurance through a transformative Masters degree program and join a cadre of professionals able to address the cyber security challenges of our nation. It presents an innovative solution to the personnel crisis facing computer science.
Publications Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal
Data Publications, theses (not shown) and data repositories will be added to the portal record when information is available in FAIRS and brought back to the portal