Chinese universities are welcome to adopt the U.S. National Security Agency’s cyber education program, the top U.S. computer security education official said, after a recent trip to Beijing.
Entrepreneurs in China have voiced support for improving the notoriously spotty relations between the U.S. and China in cyberspace by patterning Chinese courses on NSA-approved curricula, said Ernest McDuffie, head of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.
The offer of shared cybersecurity training comes at a time when both countries are exchanging accusations of hacking each other’s trade secrets. Both parties have denied these allegations.
“It’s not like we’re giving away some deep, dark secret that they didn’t know before,” McDuffie said during an interview. “And it gives you the chance to put ethics into the mix.”
Through the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance program, launched in 1998, more than 180 U.S. public and private universities have mapped their curricula to NSA standards involving faculty, training and facilities. The Department of Homeland Security joined the initiative in 2004.
About 60 Chinese schools are interested in incorporating the NSA-DHS Centers of Academic Excellence cyber model, McDuffie said.
US Curriculum Typically Includes Cyberspying
The U.S. program includes sections focused on information protection, research and development, and “cyber operations,” — a diplomatic term for cyberspying and offensive hacking.
“Specialized cyber operations (e.g., collection, exploitation and response),” states the NSA academic website, are used “to enhance the national security posture of our nation.”
The cyber operations coursework, which includes classified information, would not be distributed to Chinese counterparts, McDuffie said.
“None of this model involves us sharing actual material,” but rather syllabi and course titles, he said. “We’re not teaching people how to be hackers — it’s really a fundamental education.”
The Crossroads of Special Operations