Information Assurance

Students can apply for admission to two distinct degree programs:

PhD in Information Assurance degree. A research-based, interdisciplinary PhD in Information Assurance combines a strong security technical foundation with a security policy and social sciences perspective. It seeks to prepare graduates to advance the state-of-the-art of security in systems, networks and the internet in industry, academia, and government. The interdisciplinary nature of the program distinguishes it from traditional doctoral degree programs in computer science, engineering, or social sciences and makes it unique in the Boston area.

Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cyber Security degree. An industry-focused, interdisciplinary Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cyber Security combines knowledge of information security technology and cyber security tools with relevant knowledge from law, the social sciences, criminology, and management. The MS in Information Assurance and Cyber Security is designed for students focused on cyber security careers in companies or government agencies, thus applying their knowledge to their workplaces to assess security threats and manage information security risks and technical and policy controls.

MSIA-ALIGN. Students who have a strong desire to pursue a career in information assurance and cyber security but lack a technical background are advised to apply to MSIA-ALIGN. MSIA-ALIGN students enter the ALIGN program with backgrounds in social sciences, business, economics, sciences, and other disciplines. The MSIA-ALIGN courses prepare MSIA-ALIGN students to gain admission to the Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cyber Security.

Northeastern University designations by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS):

  • Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Education, with focus area in Cyber Investigations

  • Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Research

  • Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations

Information Assurance Courses

IA 5001. Cyberspace Technology and Applications. 3 Hours.

Seeks to provide a systematic understanding of cyberspace technology and applications deployed in the global digital infrastructure. Covers topics in PC hardware architectures, server architectures, and operating systems. Designed to provide an understanding of computer and networking standards, such as Open Systems Interconnection Model and wireless family of IEEE standards dealing with local area networks and metropolitan area networks. Discusses relational database technology and storage systems. Gives an overview of virtualization technologies and cloud computing models. Students not in the information assurance ALIGN program may require instructor permission to enroll.

IA 5002. Concrete Mathematics. 3 Hours.

Seeks to provide a systematic understanding of mathematics that are necessary for mastering Cyberspace tools and methods. Students are trained in mathematical concepts and the pragmatic use of these concepts in the field of information assurance and cyber security. Covers theory and hands-on exercises. Combines lectures with computer-based examples and assignments. Students not in the information assurance ALIGN program may require instructor approval for enrollment.

IA 5004. Introduction to Cyberspace Programming 1. 3 Hours.

Seeks to provide a systematic understanding of cyberspace programming languages and methods. Students are trained in Python using command-line-interface-based editors and compilers, as well as integrated development environments, with industry-standard operating systems running on virtual machines. Students are trained through the implementation of programming principles and methods, spanning the evolution of computer systems. Lectures are combined with multiple computer-based exercises. Students not in the information assurance ALIGN program may require instructor approval for enrollment.

IA 5010. Foundations of Information Assurance. 4 Hours.

Builds a common cross-disciplinary understanding in the foundations of information assurance. Presents an overview of basic principles and security concepts related to information systems, including workstation security, system security, and communications security. Introduces information security via database technology. Discusses legal infrastructure such as DMCA, Telecommunications Act, wire fraud, and other ethical issues. Covers security methods, controls, procedures, economics of cybercrime, criminal procedure, and forensics. Describes the use of cryptography as a tool, software development processes, and protection. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5040. Introduction to Cyberspace Programming. 4 Hours.

Seeks to provide a systematic understanding of cyberspace programming languages and methods. Trains students in Python and C using command-line interface-based editors and compilers, as well as integrated development environments, with industry-standard operating systems running on virtual machines. Offers students an opportunity to implement programming principles and methods, spanning the evolution of computer systems. Lectures are combined with multiple computer-based exercises. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5050. Data Mining in Cyberspace. 4 Hours.

Focuses on the basics of the technical, legal, social, and ethical issues implicit in commercial data mining ventures. Introduces the key concepts of data science with specific emphasis on applications in information assurance and the ethical treatment of privacy in data mining. Centers on principles and methods covering the process from envisioning the problem to applying data science techniques to deploying the results to improve information assurance. Topics include an introduction of canonical data mining tasks, spam and fraud detection, Sybil attacks, privacy in data mining, privacy in social networks, and management of information assurance in data science projects. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5100. Computer Systems and Networks. 4 Hours.

Introduces the basic concepts underlying computer operating systems and computer networks. Covers the basic structure of an operating system such as application interfaces, processes, threads, synchronization, interprocess communication, processor allocation, deadlocks, memory management, file systems, and input/output control. Introduces network architectures, network topologies, network protocols, layering concepts (for example, ISO/OSI, TCP/IP reference models), communication paradigms (point-to-point vs. multicast/broadcast, connectionless vs. connection oriented), and networking APIs (sockets). Uses examples from real operating systems and networks (UNIX, MS-DOS, Windows, TCP/IP, Ethernet) to reinforce concepts.

IA 5120. Applied Cryptography. 4 Hours.

Surveys the principles and the practices of cryptography. Overviews the core cryptographic algorithms: symmetric encryption schemes (e.g., DES and AES); public key cryptosystems (e.g., RSA and discrete logarithm); and hash functions (e.g., the SHA family). Discusses core information assurance building blocks, such as authentication, digital signatures, key management, and digital certificates. Finally, applies these concepts to important security architectures, including the IP network stack (e.g., IPsec and SSL/TLS), the cellular system, and broadcast media. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5130. Computer System Security. 4 Hours.

Explores issues involved in the security of computer systems. Topics include security models, authentication issues, access control, intrusion detection, and damage control. Includes case studies and laboratory exercises. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5131. Lab for IA 5130. 0 Hours.

Offers small-group laboratory format to cover lab requirements in IA 5130. Coreq. IA 5130.

IA 5150. Network Security Practices. 4 Hours.

Explores issues involved in the security of computer networks. Topics include firewalls, viruses, virtual private networks, Internet security, and wireless security. Includes case studies and laboratory exercises. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science or by permission of instructor.

IA 5151. Lab for IA 5150. 0 Hours.

Offers a small-group laboratory format to cover lab requirements for IA 5150. Coreq. IA 5150.

IA 5200. Security Risk Management and Assessment. 4 Hours.

Creates the opportunity for competency in the development of information security policies and plans including controls for physical, software, and networks. Discusses different malicious attacks, such as viruses and Trojan horses, detection strategies, countermeasures, damage assessment, and control. Covers information system risk analysis and management, audits, and log files. Uses case studies, site visits, and works with commercial products. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science or by permission of instructor.

IA 5210. Information System Forensics. 4 Hours.

Designed to allow students to explore the techniques used in computer forensic examinations. Examines computer hardware, physical and logical disk structure, and computer forensic techniques. Conducts hands-on experiences on DOS, Windows operating systems, Macintosh, Novell, and Unix/Linux platforms. Builds on basic computer skills and affords hands-on experience with the tools and techniques to investigate, seize, and analyze computer-based evidence using a variety of specialized forensic software in an IBM-PC environment. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5211. Lab for IA 5210. 0 Hours.

Offers a small-group laboratory format to cover lab requirements for IA 5210. Coreq. IA 5210.

IA 5240. Cyberlaw: Privacy, Ethics, and Digital Rights. 4 Hours.

Describes the legal and ethical issues associated with information security including access, use, and dissemination. Emphasizes legal infrastructure relating to information assurance, such as the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and Telecommunications Decency Act, and emerging technologies for management of digital rights. Examines the role of information security in various domains such as healthcare, scientific research, and personal communications such as email. Examines criminal activities such as computer fraud and abuse, desktop forgery, embezzlement, child pornography, computer trespass, and computer piracy. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5241. Information Assurance Readings in Cyber Law. 1 Hour.

Involves conducting research on a number of cyber law topics with a focus on how these topics specifically apply to the information assurance professional. Topics include banking/financial services, healthcare, cyber crime, copyright, and information security. Includes weekly summaries of topical readings with posted comments. Offers students an opportunity to present at least one completed topic/paper for class discussion and to research and post blog submissions to the professor’s blog on relevant and newsworthy cyber law topics.

IA 5250. Decision Making for Critical Infrastructure. 4 Hours.

Focuses on the art and science of security program management leadership in the context of critical infrastructure protection programs. Includes selected readings, review of decision-making models in crisis, lectures and insights from accomplished leaders in infrastructure protection, and examination of the students’ own unique background and experiences. Trains students on the interaction of vulnerabilities, threats, and countermeasures and how to apply this knowledge to the protection of critical infrastructure using research and analysis of national and global strategies, historical and current legislation, and policies. Also seeks to give students a working knowledge of federal, state, and private-sector critical infrastructure protection resources and programs. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 5976. Directed Study. 1-4 Hours.

Seeks to provide information assurance (IA) students with the training experience of working on a specific IA project under the direction of an IA instructor. The instructor provides students with a plan of seminar sessions, including lectures, research, and development of project deliverables and with direction to complete the course.

IA 5978. Independent Study. 2-4 Hours.

Offers independent work under the direction of members of the department on a chosen topic. Course content depends on instructor.

IA 5984. Research. 2-4 Hours.

Offers an opportunity to conduct research under faculty supervision.

IA 6120. Software Security Practices. 4 Hours.

Explores the principles and methodologies for addressing software security risk issues in organizations. Offers students an opportunity to learn software security vulnerabilities and to create software solutions to address software security issues in accordance with information assurance requirements and in compliance with U.S. and international laws, federal systems guidelines, standards, directives, and industry best practices. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science and in the College of Engineering or by permission of instructor.

IA 6121. Lab for IA 6120. 0 Hours.

Offers a small-group laboratory format to cover lab requirements for IA 6120. Coreq. IA 6120.

IA 6960. Exam Preparation—Master’s. 0 Hours.

Offers the student the opportunity to prepare for the master’s qualifying exam under faculty supervision.

IA 6962. Elective. 1-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions.

IA 6964. Co-op Work Experience. 0 Hours.

Provides eligible students with an opportunity for work experience.

IA 6966. Practicum. 2-4 Hours.

Provides eligible students with an opportunity for practical experience.

IA 7900. Capstone Project/Seminar. 4 Hours.

Draws together candidates from diverse backgrounds (technical, legal, and/or law enforcement) in a collaborative activity to address one or more security issues from an integrated perspective. Requires a project proposal, generally industrially oriented, to be submitted and accepted prior to the semester in which the project is to be undertaken. Preq. Restricted to students in the College of Computer and Information Science or by permission of instructor.

IA 7962. Elective. 2-4 Hours.

Offers elective credit for courses taken at other academic institutions.

IA 7976. Directed Study. 2-4 Hours.

Focuses on student examining standard information assurance material in fresh ways or new information science material that is not covered in formal courses.

IA 7978. Independent Study. 2-4 Hours.

Offers independent work under the direction of members of the department on a chosen topic. Course content depends on instructor.

IA 7990. Thesis. 2-4 Hours.

Offers selected work with the agreement of a project supervisor.

IA 7994. Thesis Continuation—Part Time. 0 Hours.

Offers continued thesis work conducted under the supervision of a departmental faculty. Prereq. IA 7990.

IA 7996. Thesis Continuation. 0 Hours.

Offers continued thesis work conducted under the supervision of a departmental faculty. Prereq. IA 7990.

IA 8660. Research Project in National Information Security. 4 Hours.

Engages students in national cybersecurity/information systems security problems. Offers students an opportunity to learn how to apply research techniques, think clearly about these issues, formulate and analyze potential solutions, and communicate their results. Working in small groups under the mentorship of technical clients from government and industry, each student has an opportunity to formulate, carry out, and present original research on current cybersecurity/information assurance problems of interest to the nation. Requires permission of instructor.

IA 8964. Co-op Work Experience. 0 Hours.

Provides eligible students with an opportunity for work experience.

IA 8982. Readings. 1-4 Hours.

Offers selected readings under the supervision of a faculty member.

IA 9990. Dissertation. 4 Hours.

Offers selected work with the agreement of a thesis supervisor. Prereq. Information assurance students only.

IA 9996. Dissertation Continuation. 0 Hours.

Continues work with the agreement of a thesis supervisor. Prereq. IA 9990; information assurance students only.