TU among best in info-security

TU among best in info-security
TU among best in info-security 

By April Marciszewski
World Staff Writer

A new Institute for Information Security, or iSec, is available to the 
private sector.

University of Tulsa officials think they have one of the best 
information security programs in the world, but few people know it.

For the past dozen years, professors and students working for TU's 
Center for Information Security have mostly done top-secret work for the 
federal government, so they could not tell anyone about their 
accomplishments and expertise.

Now, TU has turned the center into the Institute for Information 
Security, or iSec, and is putting an emphasis on working for the private 

"Now we can tell the world who we are and where we're going and, at the 
same time, tell the world Tulsa's a great place to start a business," TU 
Trustee Jim McGill said.

TU officials want private companies to know they can take advantage of 
the researchers' expertise.

McGill already has seen TU graduates form information security 
companies, and he thinks the institute can further boost economic 
development in Tulsa, in the same way university research boosted Boston 
and Austin, Texas, and created the Silicon Valley.

"Why can't the Arkansas Valley be the information security valley?" he 

In the 1920s and '30s, TU's petroleum engineering program was the best 
in the world, McGill said, and it populated Tulsa with people with 
doctorates and high incomes.

"Let's go do it again with information security," he said.

McGill said he hopes iSec will work with the proposed city of Tulsa 
Innovation Institute, a business incubator. TU could build a classified 
research facility at the Innovation Institute so start-up companies 
could grow quickly.

TU's institute is expected to improve Tulsa's economy in another way.

Many of the students who worked in the Center for Information Security 
have moved to Washington, D.C., for government jobs, but the institute's 
work with private companies will keep more graduates in Tulsa, said 
computer science doctoral student Nakeisha Schimke.

For the information security center to become an institute "is a huge 
move," she said.

Schimke earned her bachelor's and master's degrees at TU, went to work 
for Williams Power Co. and decided to return to TU this fall for her 
doctorate in computer science because she considers its security program 
one of the best in the country.

One of iSec's plans is to find out where graduates who worked in the 
center are working now and how much they are making so TU can assess how 
successful its program is, said Gavin Manes, a research assistant 
professor with the institute and founder of Oklahoma Digital Forensics 

Most graduates go to work for the National Security Agency, and many 
move on to higher-paying jobs in the private sector.

Unlike the center, the institute will be able to have faculty of its 
own, Manes said. Computer science faculty made up the center, but the 
institute will expand to include electrical and mechanical engineering 
faculty. An executive director will be hired shortly, and McGill expects 
iSec to eventually have its own building on the TU campus.

McGill and computer science professor Mauricio Papa said the need for 
information security will continue to increase.

McGill said computers will be the size of cell phones in five years, 
will be portable and will connect to computer screens and keyboards.

That means a company's knowledge and secrets will walk out the door 
every time an employee carries the computer to lunch or home for the 

Tulsa already has one company, Digital Enterprise Security Associates, 
founded by TU graduate Jerald Dawkins, that certifies computer 
applications as secure.

Papa conducts research in computer security for the oil and gas 

For three years, he has been working to improve security in devices that 
control variables such as flow, temperature and pressure at refineries, 
oil rigs and pipelines.

Security tools have to be specially designed for such environments. Papa 
hopes his research eventually can be applied to electric companies and 
water treatment plants, which also use process-control systems.

As computer systems become more complex, vulnerabilities can become 
easier for attackers to find, Papa said.

"I don't think this is an issue that will disappear in the next few 
years," he said.

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