In The News
In The News > Press Releases

National Institute of Justice Awards Grant to New York Researchers to Assess Information Security
at America's Colleges and Universities

The National Institute of Justice awards grant to New York Researchers to assess information security at
America's colleges and universities. This Columbia University based research project will examine current
security levels and develop safeguards for the nation's infrastructure.

New York, NY February 22, 2005 -- America’s colleges and universities are plagued with increasingly frequent
and severe information security breaches. Incidents ranging from identity theft and data tampering, to
organized criminal and terrorist activity, are quickly establishing academic institutions as the weakest link in
America’s chain of critical infrastructure security. To address this critical lapse in security, the US Department
of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) awarded approximately $200,000 to ISAI, a New York-based
research team (, to investigate information security in academic institutions. The
team will analyze current information security levels and provide practical recommendations for improvement.
This 18-month research project, conducted through Columbia University’s Teachers College, will integrate
policy from federal agencies such as NIST with universities’ pressing issues to develop a wide range of
solutions that will raise the bar for information security standards.

Survey and interview data will be collected from over one hundred IT directors of colleges and universities
across the United States. Three universities’ networks will be monitored for forensic analysis. This data will be
integrated with federal policy and best practices to create recommendations and implementation options.

“Our goal is to strengthen the information security policy and practice of America’s universities,” said Dr.
Steffani Burd, Executive Director of the project. “Academia’s open culture that fosters research,
experimentation and emerging technologies is invaluable. However, universities are highly vulnerable to
security breaches that can readily disrupt our nation’s critical infrastructure. We will create practical, flexible,
scalable, and forward-looking approaches to developing safeguards commensurate with the nation’s security

The research will also analyze how academia’s unique threats impact public safety and homeland security.
“Higher education is home to sensitive information ranging from pioneering government-sponsored research
to information sharing for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) programs like US-VISIT and SEVIS to
social security numbers, billing information and private health records for millions of students and faculty," said
Scott Cherkin, Director of Strategic Development for the project.

Due to the national and economic aspects of the project, the team will reach out to industry for inclusion and
sponsorship of the project. For information, contact Dr. Steffani Burd at

National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the US Department of
Justice. NIJ provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to meet the challenges of crime and

Teachers College, an affiliate of Columbia University, is the largest and one of the leading graduate schools of
education in the United States.

Columbia University is one of the top academic and research institutions in the world, conducting pathbreaking
research in medicine, science, arts, and humanities. It includes three undergraduate schools, thirteen graduate and
professional schools, and a school of continuing education.

For more information:
(917) 783 – 8496
(646) 365-3148 (fax)

This project is supported by Grant No. 2004-IJ-CX-0045 awarded by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice. Points of view in this
document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.