CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

A Case Study of Information Assurance Field Experience

Date of Award

2006

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

William L. Hafner

Abstract

Information assurance CIA) needs of 21st century businesses require expertise that had not yet been conceived when most employees attended college. Additional people are needed, particularly those with practical knowledge of the employers' business. Many employees do not have the requisite education or training in this field and small businesses lack the resources to deal adequately with their needs. In non-metropolitan areas, there is a lack of paid services available. Even in metropolitan areas, non-profit organizations struggle with the cost of information security services.

The solution proposed was to have students currently enrolled in cyber security and computer forensics programs perform service in the workplace as part of their supervised field experience. Some schools that are educating people to become entry level IA specialists include student projects offering practical experience that benefit the students and provide the needed services to the small businesses and non-profit organizations. The dissertation involved a case study of a program in which the students were required to complete a project involving practical experience with a small business or non-profit organization. The projects included vulnerability assessment, security principles training, and information policy review. An additional mini-case study at another institution involving a service learning experience examined alternative approaches to field experience.

The goal of the dissertation was to combine practical experience for students with unrest security needs of local small businesses and non-profit organizations by performing meaningful and necessary cyber security services for them. Students gained knowledge and experience not available to them in a classroom setting while the businesses benefited from having the needed services performed. A careful analysis of the data collected in the two cases made it possible to specify the critical success factors for incorporating field experience into the IA curriculum: Commitment of support from the professor and the administration, a structured framework, managed expectations, and an IA Center or its equivalent. The absence of any of these factors would limit the effectiveness of a field experience program.

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