JSU and Snead State Collaboration Receives National Cyber Award


A collaborative project between Jacksonville State University and Snead State Community College has received national recognition. “Industrial Control Systems Security Curriculum Resource Kit” has been awarded the winning spot in the Faculty Development category for the 2018 National CyberWatch Center Innovations in Cyber Security Education program.

Dr. Guillermo Francia III, professor and director of the Center for Information Security and Assurance at JSU, will travel to Oregon on August 2 to receive the award.

The Industrial Control Systems Security Curriculum Resource Kit is a result of a collaborative project of the JSU’s Center for Information Security and Assurance and Computer Information Systems Center for Academic Excellence at SSCC. The project personnel include Francia, Dr. Noureddine Beckhouche, Terry Marbut and Jay Snellen of JSU, as well as Greg Randall and Stephen Bowen of SSCC.

“The entire team is thrilled and greatly honored by this award,” Francia said. “It is a culmination of five years of hard work on Industrial Control Systems security by JSU and SSCC. The team hopes that this small contribution to the advancement of cybersecurity education and the enhancement of our nation’s critical infrastructure protection would stimulate the expansion of pedagogical materials and the growth of professional development activities in this area of national need.

“The team also would like to thank all the unnamed contributors: students, faculty and administrators who provided ideas for continuous improvement and the National Science Foundation for trusting and providing the much-needed financial support,” Francia added. “This award provides a validation of the strength of the cybersecurity academic program at JSU.”

The group collaborated to design and implement an innovative industrial control systems security portable toolkit intended to enhance cybersecurity education through total learning immersion utilizing problem-based learning techniques and hands-on experimentations. Recent enhancements include virtual PLCs and scenario-based learning exercise for ICS security training.

The toolkit connects to a laboratory network switch to transform a traditional networks lab into an ICS security lab. Freely-available ICS security curriculum modules covering topics such as ladder logic programming, Human Machine Interface development, system reconnaissance, intrusion detection, firewall configuration, penetration testing, deep packet inspection and vulnerability assessment supplement the toolkit.

The ICS security curriculum modules are deployed online and evaluated as ancillary materials in courses taught by the workshop participants and the local personnel.