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NDSU named Palo Alto Networks Authorized Cybersecurity Academy

Photo of Jeremy Straub

Jeremy Straub

Photo of Kendall Nygard

Kendall Nygard

The NDSU Department of Computer Science and Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research have been recognized as an authorized center for the Palo Alto Networks Cybersecurity Academy program. The recognition gives NDSU students enrolled in cybersecurity courses access to Palo Alto Networks resources, including curriculum and virtual firewalls, for educational activities.

Students will learn to operate and configure Palo Alto Networks firewalls and how they fit into a network security and cybersecurity paradigm. Access to virtual firewalls will reduce student expenses, and they will have hands-on experiences using the same interfaces used in corporate and government information technology environments.

The VM-50 virtual firewall units Palo Alto Networks will provide at no charge to NDSU students are a limited, educational version of the company’s VM-100 virtual firewalls, which are commercially available for more than $3,000. The department estimates 50 students or more will make use of a Palo Alto VM-50 each year.

“Becoming a Palo Alto Networks Authorized Cybersecurity Academy allows us to provide our students with real world experience using the same types of firewalls commonly available in corporate and government settings,” said Jeremy Straub, NDSU assistant professor of computer science, who led the academy application process. Straub also is the associate director of the NDSU Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research. 

“The State of North Dakota’s Information Technology Department, along with others in the state, are using Palo Alto Networks firewalls and we want to make sure that our graduates are ready for these opportunities,” Straub said.

Palo Alto Networks firewalls are also used for the Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which NDSU participated in last spring and plans to compete in again this year. Academy membership is expected to help prepare students for the competition.

“The academy status opens the door for a host of opportunities at NDSU, including the establishing of highly advanced software and hardware solutions in cybersecurity,” said Kendall Nygard, chair of computer science.

The NDSU computer science department offers doctoral degrees in computer science and software engineering, three master’s degrees and two bachelor’s degree programs.

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