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It Security Professionals At U.Va. Honored With National Award

August 4, 2005 -- Information technology security professionals at the University of Virginia are being honored for their role in founding the Virginia Alliance for Secure Computing and Networking (VA SCAN http://vascan.org), a partnership of IT leaders from state universities and colleges working together to combat network security problems.

EDUCAUSE (www.educause.edu), a nonprofit association of more than 1,900 colleges, universities and educational organizations that promote the intelligent use of information technology in higher education, announced that VA SCAN will receive its 2005 Award for Excellence in Information Technology Solutions. IT leaders from U.Va. and other founding members of VA SCAN will be honored at the association’s annual conference this October in Orlando, Fla.   

“Given how serious IT security issues have become, I think it’s very good to see a success story highlighted in this way,” said Shirley Payne, VA SCAN chairwoman and director for security coordination and policy in U.Va.’s Information Technology and Communications division. Payne noted that breaches in computer security are becoming more common, more malicious and more costly than ever. “It’s no longer only bored teenage computer whizzes causing these problems,” Payne said. “Now we’re seeing organized crime behind these exploits. The landscape is constantly changing — and we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

In 2002, Payne and her U.Va. colleagues began initiating an alliance with IT security professionals at Virginia Tech, James Madison University and George Mason University. By sharing resources, cutting-edge research, security tools and best practices, the alliance sought to create a one-stop resource and training center that would help institutions across the state reduce training costs while enhancing their network security.

In March 2003, VA SCAN presented its first offering of products and services, earning a Governor’s Technology Award for that year. Today, VA SCAN services include educating staff at higher education institutions about digital security threats and strategies for minimizing them; assisting with implementation of technical solutions to mitigate known threats; providing IT security training and consultation; and maintaining a Web site for information about potential security threats, a mail list for general security discussions and security alerts, and dozens of security-enhancing tools that can be downloaded directly.

Reflecting on VA SCAN’s success and the changing landscape of network security, Payne remains pragmatic.  “Institutions have to maintain tight network security in these times,” she said. “It makes a lot of sense not to have to reinvent the wheel every time.”

IT security professionals statewide seem to agree. In a post-session consulting report to VA SCAN, James Davis of the Virginia Community College System echoed the sentiments of many IT security professionals around the state. “In these times of limited resources it doesn’t make good fiscal sense to duplicate training or any other activity that can be shared,” Davis said. “This is an excellent example where sharing makes sense.”

For more information about U.Va.’s role in VA SCAN, contact Shirley Payne at (434) 982-2249 or scp8b@virginia.edu.

For more information about VA SCAN, send an e-mail to va-scan-services@virginia.edu or visit the VA SCAN Web site at http://vascan.org.

Contact: Shirley Payne, (434) 982-2249

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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