Five students at Iowa State University are training to become cyber warriors for the federal government. The technical term for their line of study is “information assurance,” but professor Doug Jacobson says the students are learning how to guard the nation’s computerized high tech society.
“We train a little bit on cyber warfare, so we actually train them on how to carry out attacks,” Jacobson said. “In order to defend, you need to know how to attack.” I.S.U. is among a dozen schools training cyber warriors for the federal government. The five I.S.U. students are on National Science Foundation scholarships – full-ride scholarships with stipeds of $12,000 a year.
In return, graduates of the program must spend two years working for the CIA, FBI or the Department of Defense. Then, they’re free to take other jobs. “They often go work for agencies that have all the latest, greatest and coolest toys. So, they get to work on things that nobody else in working on,” Jacobson said.
“These students are generally very excited about the job offers they get and more often than not, they get jobs that they can’t talk about what they’re doing after they get the job.” The job opportunities extend into high paying information assurance jobs outside government.
“I get e-mails or phone calls almost weekly from organizations looking for security students,” Jacobson said. Despite the high demand, Jacobson says I.S.U.’s graduate information assurance program will only admit 10 students in each of the next two fall semesters.