Published: June 15, 2023
UT Receives National Cybersecurity Designation
The University of Tampa has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense through the 2028 academic year.
There are three types of designations from the organization, which was founded by the National Security Administration (NSA): Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research (CAE-R) and Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO).
UT now has the CAE-CD designation.
“It shows that UT has met the rigorous requirements set forth by NSA, showing our commitment to producing cybersecurity professionals that will reduce vulnerabilities in our national infrastructure,” said Alper Yayla, director of cybersecurity programs at UT.
Approximately 400 institutions hold CAE-CD designation, according to the CAE in Cybersecurity Community.
In order to obtain the designation, Yayla explained, first, they look at the program of study validation. They look at how the courses in the program are aligned with the knowledge units identified by the NSA, the qualification of the faculty teaching in the program, student activities in-and-outside of the classroom, and how the courses and programs are assessed and continuously improved over the years.
Once a program of study is validated, the institution can apply for the designation.
This looks at the institution in general and considers cybersecurity practices, outreach activities, how cybersecurity is integrated in programs other than cybersecurity and the amount of opportunities for students in career services, Yayla said.
“Of course, the central piece is having a Center,” Yayla said of UT's Center for Cybersecurity, which was established in 2022.
The main benefit of this designation is external validation of the quality of UT’s cybersecurity program by the government, Yayla said.
In addition, he added, the designation allows students the opportunities for scholarships, resources, training, workforce development and internship opportunities. For staff, resources and grants are available for institutions with the CAE designation.
“CAE-CD designation shows the commitment of the institution to the cybersecurity education, not just the quality of the cybersecurity program,” Yayla said.
In 2015, UT earned the distinction of being one of the first U.S. universities to be ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified in three areas of the University: information security, human resources and the management of information technology.
Currently, UT is the only university in the nation with two prestigious international ISO certifications in information security (ISO/IEC 27001) and business continuity (fSO/IEC 22301) management systems. In 2024, the university's Information Technology Service Management System (ISO/IEC 20000) will also be certified.
ISO/IEC 27001 is an internationally recognized best practice framework for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). Achieving ISO/IEC 27001 certification demonstrates a strong leadership commitment to information security and recognition of the ongoing need to make continuous improvements to identify and reduce risks to important information.
The ISO/IEC 27001 certification audits continue annually.
Tammy Loper, UT’s vice president of Information Technology and Security, said that UT’s unique ISO certification was likely instrumental in UT gaining the CAE-CD designation.
“Institutions applying for this prestigious designation must have a chief information security officer managing an effective, robust and mature information security program,” Loper said.
“Universities are realizing that information security is not solely a technical issue, but a business challenge that must address three integral areas: security awareness (people), information handling (processes) and technology considerations.”