MU Signs Cyber Security Deal to Boost Defense

Trevor Smith, Reporter

Marshall’s cybersecurity students will receive a new lab program after Marshall signed an agreement on Mar. 16 to create a partnership between the school and two other organizations. 

The agreement joined Marshall University, Forge Security, and West Virginia’s National Guard to strengthen the university’s cybersecurity school and create a virtual firing range. 

The flow of this partnership will have Marshall supplying the faculty, facility and research methods for the school, with the National Guard providing personnel to help run training missions and Forge Security providing the virtual firing range. 

The cyber range will give students realistic hands-on learning that will sharpen their skills and allow students to see in an immersive way the situations they may face in the field of cybersecurity. The virtual range will include individual lab exercises for learning specific skills and also offer simulations of a realistic cyber security attack.  

Marshall University’s President Brad Smith said that the partnership has constructed a strong foundation the university couldn’t have done alone, and that hands-on learning for students is priceless. 

“We all know that learning happens best when you can learn the theory and see if it really works,” Smith said. “This applied experience, or experiential learning as we call it, is the perfect way for students to really understand that they’re developing the skills and expertise they need to have an impact.” 

The lab will not only benefit students but also refine members of the National Guards’ ability to handle possible situations in the face of cyber-attacks, said Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, the adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard. He also said that many things are virtually breachable now, including local water systems. 

“Cybersecurity is an issue to our local, state and county governments and all of our industry—and it’s just not us in uniform that have to respond to it. We have to prepare all of our young generation that are coming up to be prepared to help ensure the safety of our networks,” Crane said. 

Justin Jarrell, CEO of Forge Security, said, “We’re thrilled to partner with Marshall University and the West Virginia National Guard to support cybersecurity research with this one-of-a-kind program.” He also said that he hopes to strengthen his community’s security through his company.