Students will be doing vulnerability tests on security products at Iowa State University's new lab

Iowa State University (ISU) is setting up a product-security test and evaluation lab where university students will be assessing network security products' strengths and weaknesses in a formal program supervised by faculty and a newly named lab director.

"We have a large pool of students interested in cybersecurity," says Dr. Doug Jacobson, director of ISU's Information Assurance Center, about the new security test facility, which he will oversee and that is being called the Information Systems Security Laboratory (ISSL).

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By the beginning of next year, the university expects to have the security product evaluation lab in place where students will run a wide variety of vulnerability and assurance tests to determine product strengths and gaps. It's anticipated that vendors will be invited to submit their products for review, either for confidential testing or for perhaps an evaluation that might be shared publicly in some circumstances, if planned.

At the same time, the university is putting together an education program to provide information technology security training to IT professionals in business, especially those at the many small-to -mid-sized manufacturers in Iowa. The idea is to have classes of up to 25 individuals who have careers in IT but need to better understand the role of IT security in their organizations, including for wireless security. This new program is expected to commence early next year.

Grants of a few hundred thousand dollars in cooperation with the university engineering division make these new programs possible, according to Jacobson. This seed money is allowing the university to set up ISSL, with Julie Rursch as lab director. The focus will initially be on network security, where the university has put its emphasis in the past.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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