Davenport Introduces Information Assurance Master's Program

February 1, 2008
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CALEDONIA — Applied cryptology has proved to be Frank Jasper-Stump’s favorite class so far in Davenport University’s new program for a master’s degree in information assurance.

“It was very challenging,” said Jasper-Stump, of St. Joseph, an instructor at Davenport’s South Bend campus and also an instructional designer for the school’s online courses. He is taking the master’s program on his way toward fulfilling a dream of teaching full-time. Next up on the course list: risk management and litigation, and legal and ethical issues.

While he’s taking all the classes online, Jasper-Stump has managed to meet up with a few of the other students and, by virtue of also being a Davenport employee, is already developing ideas for his master’s thesis.

The program was offered for the first time in the fall, said Reid Gough, dean of the Davenport University School of Technology.

“We really are preparing them for high-end jobs in information security,” Gough said. “As we are developing the curriculum, we look at emerging trends. We identified that businesses were losing a tremendous amount of money due to virus attacks and identity theft — $56 billion just in the U.S. alone.

“Research has shown that 90 percent of companies have firewalls, but they’re still being attacked and losing money.”

Students in the master’s of information assurance program learn how to audit business systems for security issues, how to protect systems from attack, and how to safeguard them when attacks occur, he said. They also study management level issues such as risk management and legal concerns.

Information assurance has its roots in World War II cryptology, and, not surprisingly, government security agencies are still very interested. Gough said Davenport’s curriculum is tied to National Security Agency guidelines, but added that the discipline is transportable.

“Everything from health care to manufacturing to the transportation industry — every business, every industry — needs security workers,” Gough said. “Even small business. It’s no longer security through obscurity.”

About 40 students out of 109 applicants are taking the 18-month program’s courses online and in classrooms, Gough said. Graduate tuition per credit hour is $439 for on-campus classes and $445 for online courses.

“One of the first things that caught my eye was how enormously practical it all is,” added Jasper-Stump, who spent 15 years in the information technology department of another college before being laid off due to budget cuts. “It’s very much rooted in everyday business issues and practices.”

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