Grambling Receives $74K for ‘Ethical Hacking’ Lab

GRAMBLING, La. (press release) — Hands-on, practical training is something employers are looking for in potential hires, and funding recently awarded to Grambling State University’s Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies will provide just that for GSU cybersecurity students.

GSU received $74,261 from the Department of Defense’s (DOD) National Security Agency (NSA) that will be used to create an Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing Lab.

“We will use the funds to buy computers for the lab and support students who are enrolling in the CompTIA Security+ certification and the summer workshop,” said Dr. Prasanthi Sreekumari, assistant professor and interim chair of the Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies at Grambling State. “An ethical hacking and penetration testing lab is a specialized environment where authorized individuals perform security assessments and simulated attacks on computer systems, networks, and applications to identify vulnerabilities and strengthen overall security.”

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“The primary function of an ethical hacking and penetration testing lab is to evaluate the security posture of an organization or system by replicating the techniques and methods used by malicious hackers. This allows organizations to proactively identify weaknesses, address vulnerabilities, and enhance their security measures to protect against real-world threats.”

Sreekmari said the lab will be located in the Department of Computer Science and Digital Technologies.

“The main goal of this lab is to provide a safe and controlled space for students to practice their skills and identify vulnerabilities,” Sreekumari said. “Faculty members will supervise and guide students in their learning process. Through this lab, students will gain the knowledge and skills needed to conduct security assessments and simulated attacks.”

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The project will not exclusively focus on training designed for governmental entities.

“While ethical hacking and penetration testing labs are commonly utilized by government entities, such as national security agencies, they are not exclusively restricted to their use,” Sreekumari said. “Private companies, educational institutions, and security consulting firms also establish their own labs to assess and fortify their security infrastructure.”

“The purpose of these labs is to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information and critical systems. By conducting ethical hacking and penetration testing, organizations can identify potential entry points, misconfigurations, weak passwords, and other security gaps that could be exploited by unauthorized individuals.”

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Dr. Sreekumari has been named principal investigator for the project with Dr. Dileon Saint-Jean and Harvey Farley assisting in overseeing it.

“It is important to emphasize that ethical hacking and penetration testing should always be performed with proper authorization and in compliance with legal and ethical guidelines,” Sreekumari said. “The goal is to improve security measures, protect against cyber threats, and safeguard both governmental and non-governmental entities from potential risks and breaches.”

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