NSA picks 5 universities to train future cyberspies

CBS News

You might think of it as Spy School.

This week the National Security Agency -- NSA -- selected five more universities to offer special training to select students. The NSA National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program, now offered in a total of 13 schools, screens and trains students to enter the U.S. cybersecurity and intelligence workforce.

The five new schools are: New York University, Towson University, United States Military Academy, University of Cincinnati, and University of New Orleans.

Students in these Centers of Academic Excellence focus on fields like computer science, computer engineering and electrical engineering. Some students and faculty get to do summer internships at the NSA, though they will "not engage in actual U.S. government intelligence activities" according to a statement by the agency.

The students must go through a rigorous application and screening process to get into the program. The screening process is not only for technical aptitude but also to be sure that new workers reflect proper legal and ethical standards. In light of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's leak of millions of agency documents to news outlets last year, the agency is being especially careful.

"In the application process and in all collaboration with selected schools, the importance of integrity and compliance is always paramount," Dean of NSA's College of Cyber Operations Steven LaFountain said in a statement. "Cybersecurity technical skills are increasingly important in national defense, but it's equally important to operate within the bounds of the law and Constitution."

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