ANN ARBOR — Merit Network Inc. announced Thursday that the first site for the Michigan Cyber Range is being installed at Eastern Michigan University.

The CyberRange is intended to prepare cybersecurity professionals for detecting, preventing, and thwarting cyberattacks in a real-world setting. Like a test track or a firing range, the Michigan Cyber Range will enable individuals and organizations to conduct “live fire” exercises, simulations that will test the detection and reaction skills of participants in a variety of situations.

“Cybersecurity is increasingly important in today’s information age,” said Merit president and CEO Donald Welch. “Our work together with Eastern Michigan University will enrich curriculum and deliver in-demand skills that will retain and create jobs in Michigan.”

Racks of equipment in the EMU data center will provide the computing power to the range’s cybersecurity educational, training, and testing programs. EMU’s position as a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence made it a natural choice for the Range’s first site, where it will be used in the university’s information assurance program as well as state and regional cybersecurity courses taught by Merit.

Added Joe Adams, executive director of research and cybersecurity at Merit: “The unique opportunity to combine Merit’s extensive network and collaboration potential with EMU’s solid academic foundation is sure to yield benefits to both partners and the state of Michigan.”

EMU partners with the National Initiative for Cyber Security Education to offer degrees in information assurance at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral level.

Information assurance is the practice of assuring quality of information and managing risks related to the use, processing, storage and transmission of information or data. It’s a relatively new field that has developed from information and computer security.

EMU’s goal is to promote higher education and research in information assurance, and produce a growing number of professionals with expertise to reduce vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure.

The threat to digital information changes daily in terms of the number and sophistication, says Gerald Lawver, director of EMU’s information assurance program.

“Never before in the history of our country has so much of our personal information been available on the Internet, in data bases, banking or our medical records,” Lawver said. “It’s critical that our coursework meets the requirements mandated by the Federal Government for workers who handle sensitive information. We also have a responsibility for network security and securing the critical infrastructure of our country.”

Lawver says Eastern’s program focuses on the concepts of confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.

The Michigan Cyber Range will be an unclassified, logically isolated system that leverages Merit’s extensive research and education network. Merit currently operates more than 4,000 miles of fiber cable throughout the state of Michigan, reaching into the neighboring states of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio to connect to other regional research and education networks. Additionally, Merit, a member of Internet2, is able to collaborate with other academic, research, and not-for-profit organizations in the United States.

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Merit Network is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. It owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.


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