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  • The school that trains cyber spies: U.S. university training students in online espionage for jobs in the NSA and CIA

    University of Tulsa’s Cyber Corps programme is training students to write viruses, hack networks, crack passwords and mine data
    The little known course has been named as one of four ‘centres of excellence’ and places 85 per cent of graduates with the NSA or CIA

    Not your average student: The University of Tulsa is training students in the fundamentals of cyber-espionage, with many taking jobs in the CIA

    A university is offering a two-year course in cyber-espionage, with recruits going on to jobs with the CIA, the National Security Agency and the Secret Service.

    Students at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, are learning how to write computer viruses, hack networks, crack passwords and mine data from a range of digital devices.

    The little-known Cyber Corps programme already places 85 per cent of its graduates with the NSA – known to students as ‘the fraternity – or the CIA – which they call ‘the sorority’.

    Sujeet Shenoi, an Indian immigrant to the U.S., founded the programme at Tulsa’s Institute for Information Security in 1998 and continues to lead the teaching, the LA Times reported.

    Students are taught with a mixture of classroom theory and practical field work, he said, with each assigned to a police crime lab on campus to apply their skills to help recover evidence from digital devices.

    ‘I throw them into the deep end,’ Mr Shenoi told the LA Times. ‘And they become fearless.’

    Much of their work involves gathering evidence against paedophiles, with several students having posed as children on the internet to lure predators into stings.

    But his students in 2003 also helped solve a triple murder case by cracking an email account that linked the killer with his victims and, working alongside the Secret Service, they have developed new techniques for extracting data from damged smartphones, GPS devices and other digital devices.

    The NSA in May named Tulsa as one of four centres of academic excellence in cyber operations, alongside Northeastern University in Boston, the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota.

    Neal Ziring, a senior NSA official who visited the school recently, told LA Times: ‘Tulsa students show up to NSA with a lot of highly relevant hands-on experience.

    ‘There are very few schools that are like Tulsa in terms of having participation with law enforcement, with industry, with government.’

    Centre of excellence: Tulsa was in May named by the NSA alongside four other schools as important centres for training cyber-security operatives

    New eavesdropping technology could allow government agencies to ‘silently record’ conversations on internet chat services like Skype in real time.

    Until now, so called voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services have been difficult for police to tap into, because of the way they send information over the web.

    The services convert analogue audio signals into digital data packets, which are then sent in a way that is costly and complex for third parties to intercept.

    But now a California businessman has obtained a patent for a ‘legal intercept’ technology he says ‘would allow governments to “silently record” VoIP communications’.

    Dennis Chang, president of VoIP-PAL, an chat service similar to Skype, claims his system would allow authorities to identify and monitor suspects merely by accessing their username and subscriber data.

    Applicants to Tulsa’s programme, who have ranged in age from 17 to 63, must be U.S. citizens eligible for security clearance of ‘top secret’ or higher.

    Many are military veterans or others looking to start second careers, usually people who are working towards degrees in computer science, engineering, law or business.

    By Damien Gayle

    PUBLISHED: 09:41 GMT, 26 November 2012 | UPDATED: 14:15 GMT, 26 November 2012

    Find this story at 26 November 2012

    Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd

    Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group
    © Associated Newspapers Ltd