The Norwich University Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics (NUCAC-DF) is a formally established entity for the development of emerging, advanced and next generation computing technologies. NUCAC-DF serves students and faculty and is used for deploying specialist learning environments for the Computer Security & Information Assurance (CSIA) program, for fostering a culture of research amongst students, for outreach activities and for providing physical infrastructure for the very best students to manage and maintain.

These most accomplished students are eligible to work in the NUCAC-DF as system administrators, architects, and lab assistants. This opens their education up to include practical applications of their academic classroom learning.

The Center provides both research and development, and production environments for use by students and faculty, and on behalf of industry partners. The students provide the day-to-day operation, configuration, design and help desk services for the Center.

On any given day or week, a range of activities may transpire at the Center. For example, the center supports digital forensic software and hardware used as a core part of running classes. A recent class, Cyber Defense Practicum, allowed students to upload hardened operating systems to the private cloud for aggressive red/blue team exercises. Students were able to attack other groups and simultaneously defend and patch their own systems in an ongoing assessment that continued outside of the classroom. NUCAC-DF, and notably the NUCAC-DF administrators, were able to develop and implement the unique architecture and environmental requirements that supported such a complex and real-time exercise.

Students also support the Director of the Center in welcoming, for example, potential students, a professor or student wishing to use lab facilities, or members of the Board of Trustees to the War Room and the Center. That usually means that the Director and/or the students will perform a mini digital forensic exercise as a demonstration, and students talk about their roles. We also use the facility to host ad-hoc events, such as supporting Norwich’s role in Super Bowl 50, helping to protect the cyber-realm.

Students may be called upon to design and deploy a lab, virtual classroom or to trouble-shoot problems in the cluster. They also perform traffic, security, and performance analyses on a regular basis, using commercial-grade hardware firewalls and intrusion prevention systems.