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May 26, 2015 01:11 AM EDT

University of Houston Recognized For Its Cybersecurity, Cyber Defense Program

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The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security has recognized  the University of Houston's educational and research programs in cybersecurity and cyber defense, school officials announced.

The recognition, which is good for six years, "offers a stamp of approval for education and research into a rapidly changing field," school officials said. Society has grown more dependent on computers and the internet, making people more aware and cautious of cybersecurity issues,

"It's a scarier world today than it's ever been, because hackers have figured out how to monetize cyber-crime," Arthur Conklin, associate professor of Information and Logistics Technology and director of the Center for Information Security Research and Education, said in a statement.

The education programs covered by the designation include a two-year, professional master's degree program in information systems security, offered by the College of Technology. Ray Cline, chairman of the Information Logistics and Technology department, said the program has grown from eight students in 2007 to more than 50 now.

Stephen Huang, professor of computer science, said the research designation reflects the strength of the univeristy's research in cybersecurity and related areas.

"Designation as a NSA Center of Excellence for Research is a prerequisite for several federal funding opportunities, including National Science Foundation and Department of Defense scholarships and capacity building grants," he said. "These additional opportunities will provide a boost to our cybersecurity research and education."

The research review covered the Ph.D. curriculum, the number of doctoral degrees awarded and both the research publications and grant awards for faculty working in the cybersecurity field.

The University of Houston first received the "Center of Academic Excellence" designation for its education programs in 2007, after the creation of the Center for Information Security Research and Education. This is the first time it has received the research designation. It is one of 28 universities in the United States, including three in Texas, with the dual designation.

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