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Northeastern University Recognized byNSA andDHS as National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research

University recognized by DHS for second time this year

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have announced that Northeastern University has been selected as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research (CAE-R). The recognition complements Northeastern’s existing designation as a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education and aims to tap the University’s advanced academic research and development capabilities to help secure the global information grid and train professionals with information assurance expertise from various disciplines. Earlier this year, Northeastern won a Centers of Excellence grant from DHS to form a new center called ALERT (Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats).

Launched in 2007, the CAE-R program promotes the role of higher education in responding to the paramount need for robust information assurance technology, policy and practices that will enable our Nation to effectively prevent and respond to catastrophic events. Northeastern’s recognition as a CAE-R acknowledges the University’s proven excellence in interdisciplinary and translational research and will help establish a process to drill deeper into much needed solutions to secure the global information grid. During the next five years, Northeastern will serve as a regional center of information assurance expertise and for NSA, DHS and other federal agencies and provide programs aimed at training and retaining current federal and state information technology personnel.

Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun praised Agnes H. Chan, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in the College of Computer and Information Science, and the team of researchers who won the recognition.

“This distinction recognizes Northeastern’s commitment to world-class information assurance research,” said Aoun. “With our second such designation by DHS this year, Northeastern is firmly established as a leader in translational research that serves national, societal and global needs.”

At Northeastern, Chan focuses on cryptography and communication security. In particular, she researches efficient algorithms for generating symmetric keys and analyzes their security. With private communications carried out via public channels, security and integrity are increasingly important issues in designing coding schemes. Chan’s research considers coding schemes that are easy to implement, make it difficult for others to eavesdrop, and are resilient to noise interference.

“Being recognized amongst the very first CAE-R certifies that our program is highly regarded in both education and research,” said Chan. “As a designated center, Northeastern will continue to attract world-class students and researchers.”

The NSA and DHS jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence Programs. Launched in April 2004, the partnership responds to Priority III of the President’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace of 2003 that directs the Federal Government to foster training and education programs to support the Nation’s cybersecurity needs, and to increase the efficiency of existing Federal cybersecurity programs. The President’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace refers to cyberspace as the nervous system of our Nation’s critical infrastructures, and indicates that the healthy functioning of cyberspace presents a difficult strategic challenge, and information assurance education is a critical component in successfully meeting that challenge.

Larry Finkelstein, dean of the College of Computer and Information Science, sees this honor along with the existing designation as a Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education as validation of a broad interdisciplinary approach to our efforts information assurance.

“This designation recognizes the research contributions of university faculty in helping to secure the global information grid and acknowledges our strong commitment to information assurance as an area of strategic focus,” said Finkelstein. “I applaud the efforts of Professor Agnes Chan for her vision in leading our efforts in information assurance and for recognizing at the very outset that it was necessary to emphasize an interdisciplinary approach to our research and educational programs. She co-founded the Institute for Information Assurance with Professor David Kaeli of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and initiated the development of a joint master’s degree in Information Assurance with Associate Dean Jack McDevitt of the College of Criminal Justice.”

The prestigious acknowledgment designated a total of 23 information assurance centers across 17 states and the District of Columbia. An awards ceremony will be held on June 4, at the annual conference of the Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education at the University of Texas at Dallas.

For more information, please contact Samantha Fodrowski at 617-373-5427 or at

About Northeastern

Founded in 1898, Northeastern University is a private research university located in the heart of Boston. Northeastern is a leader in interdisciplinary research, urban engagement, and the integration of classroom learning with real-world experience. The university’s distinctive cooperative education program, where students alternate semesters of full-time study with semesters of paid work in fields relevant to their professional interests and major, is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. The University offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs leading to degrees through the doctorate in six undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools, and two part-time divisions. For more information, please visit

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