Find out more about some of the interesting courses faculty are teaching at Elon.


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Syllabuzz: ISC 345 – Information Security

  Find out more about some of the interesting courses faculty are teaching at Elon.  

By Roselee Papandrea

Information security problems make the news regularly with stories detailing the breach of one database or another that put people’s personal information—from email addresses to social security numbers—at risk. Threats can originate from a variety of sources, whether they be natural disasters, sabotage, malicious software or theft, so learning how to protect data and secure information at a time when technology is continually changing is important for individuals and organizations.

An interest in data security and privacy drives the research that Lynn Heinrichs, associate professor of computing sciences and business administration, has conducted throughout her career. She has looked at small business disaster planning, privacy policies of large organizations and most recently, smartphone security practices of undergraduate students. This past spring, she started sharing her knowledge in an information security course that will be offered every spring and is required for information science majors, though it’s also beneficial for students from other disciplines.

The course looks at managerial approaches, such as acceptable use policies and security training, as
well as technical approaches for protecting data, such as firewalls and encryption. Students’ assignments emphasize both skill sets.

“For example, during the most recent course offering, the information security students partnered with students in multimedia authoring to develop information security posters,” Heinrichs says. “This was
a great project that emphasized the role of security education, the use of project management skills and the importance of team collaboration.”

Students also complete hands-on lab assignments that focus on securing a windows network. Just like
technology, the course will continually evolve, and heinrichs anticipates students will play a large role in
highlighting some of the changes that will be discussed in the future.

“It is impossible for one individual to read or learn everything,” she says. “In a classroom, students are a
great resource. I [often] ask them to bring in a media story about a recent security breach to discuss in class. No two students ever bring the same story.”

Regardless of a student’s major, learning sound security practices is a vital skill, Heinrichs says. “Today’s students are tomorrow’s employees,” she says. “They will be information stewards in their workplaces. It is essential for them to understand how to protect their own data as well as the data that they have been entrusted with.”

About the professor
A member of Elon’s faculty since 2003, Lynn Heinrichs has developed and taught several computer information systems courses. Throughout her career, her research has highlighted problems relating to safeguarding data, including her most recent focus, students’ smartphone security practices.

Recommended readings

  • The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security
  • The Art of Intrusion: The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders and Deceivers
  • Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker

(All works by Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon)

Syllabuzz is a recurrent feature in The Magazine of Elon. To read the latest edition, click here.