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Computer crimes and their terminology have become as much a part of our daily lives as breakfast. Bill Harrison, associate professor of computer science, is one of the good guys whose entire career is focused on improving computer security.
Two years ago, with Harrison’s help, the University of Missouri was accredited as a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in information assurance education for its faculty expertise and widespread coursework in this area.

Now, Harrison has initiated a new research center within the College of Engineering: the Information Security and Assurance Center.

“The cyber security research center will focus on research and education in areas of information assurance — computer systems or software that can be mathematically proven secure, that are both critical to this country’s national needs and not part of a traditional academic curriculum,” Harrison said. “It’s something that really appeals to our students.”

Harrison said that some of the “bleeding edge,” topics his center will explore include malware analysis, reverse engineering, computer forensics, and computer virology.

He said his goals for the center include cross-campus interdisciplinary research projects, collaborations with federal and industrial entities and projects with engineering faculty members working in the field of medical informatics.

Housed within the center is a laboratory for exploring computer and network security. For obvious reasons, one does not simply experiment with malware or viruses on computers connected to the MU network. This lab consists of a number of interconnected computers on a local area network.

“Missouri has a lot of businesses that are very interested in computer security,” Harrison said. “Development of courses that give students this level of experience makes them better prepared for the workforce, and it makes them extremely attractive to potential employers.”