Mercy College Awarded NSA Grant


The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C), a branch of the National Security Agency, has awarded Mercy College a $465,398 grant over two years (NSA). Faculty and staff at Mercy College will use the funds to make a training program for the technology as well as a reliable technique for decreasing cybersecurity gaps that lead to data breaches.

The award is a result of the NCAE-goal C’s to establish a cooperative cybersecurity educational program that would involve professionals in the field in addressing the growing issue of data breaches. Mercy College has been tasked with addressing the human element in security breaches, particularly those involving people who circumvent security mechanisms to access sensitive data, such as hackers or ex-employees.

As the primary investigator (PI) for the grant, Usman Rauf, Ph.D., an assistant professor of cybersecurity, will take responsibility. Co-PI Zhixiong Chen, Ph.D., director of Mercy College’s Cyber Education Center, which has been recognized by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence on Cybersecurity Defense Education, will provide him with assistance.

The group will create a brand-new master’s level course called Cyber Threat Analytics in a subsequent phase that will provide instruction in observation, analysis, and application. Students from Mercy College will employ cutting-edge methods and technologies in the pilot program to learn how to recognize and handle internal threats in a range of situations. The team plans to conduct research and publish articles on a range of cyber threat analytics topics.

In an increasingly digital and online world, more and more individuals are looking to take advantage of personal information. Up to two-thirds of breaches are not discovered for a year or more after the incident, according to a recent data report from Verizon. Furthermore, on average, businesses reported 130 security lapses per company each year according to statistics reported by Purplesec.

Also, the cybersecurity business has become an increasingly lucrative business. The annual cost of cyber security for businesses increased by 22.7 percent in 2021, and enterprise businesses experienced a 27.4 percent increase in the annual number of security breaches. (see statistics from Purplesec)