Georgia State Students Improve East Point's Network Security Posture

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

The City of East Point’s network security posture is much safer now thanks to undergraduate students at Georgia State University. East Point’s Information Technology Director, Farhad Islam, worked with a group of students in GSU’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business for four months to rewrite the City of East Point’s IT policy. These students are:

Julie Antonio

Amira Farah

Whitney Henley

Taylor Lee

Josue Legentus

These graduating seniors are working on a System Development Project as part of their capstone course in Robinson’s Department of Computer Information Systems which is ranked #10 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. This course requires students to meet with clients during normal business hours to help solve complex problems and gain experience working as part of a team. Robinson’s CIS undergraduate program partnered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s College/Underserved Community Partnership Program for their students to gain experience in Information Technology through real-world experience. GSU Senior, Josue Legentus says the project has been an eye-opening experience for him.

“I will be working with Deloitte to do some consulting and I feel that this project is going to help me know what to expect in consulting,” said Josue Legentus. “More cities should be open to letting GSU seniors work with them to solve their problems.”

CUPP provides a creative approach to partnering and delivering technical assistance to small underserved communities from local colleges and universities at no cost to the communities. Students in this program benefit by utilizing their learned curriculum to gain practical experience that can serve as a resume builder, while earning course credits through their academic institution. Thanks to the program, GSU senior, Taylor Lee, feels he is one step closer to becoming a future IT Director.

“This was my first time working in a real IT environment,” said Taylor Lee. “The job that Mr. Islam has is my dream job. This capstone project wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. It actually confirmed that this is the field that I want to go into as a career.”

The students identified weaknesses in the City of East Point’s IT policy through a series of meetings and interviews. They also developed cybersecurity training as part of the City’s orientation process for new employees. New employees will be oriented on cybersecurity threats, malwares, detecting viruses, and how to seek help. GSU senior, Julie Antonio, says it was great to apply the business theories she learned in her classes into her capstone project.

“This opportunity with the City of East Point was great because of its hands-on experience,” said Julie Antonio. “I was able to get valuable feedback from Mr. Islam and learn from it. My favorite part was interacting with the other IT members in the City of East Point for the risk analysis.”

In October, East Point’s IT Director, Farhad Islam, was certified as a Government Chief Information Officer and was recognized for his certification during the Georgia Government Management Information Sciences conference in Savannah. At the conference, he presented the work done in collaboration with GSU’s students. Copies of the policies and training methods developed by GSU’s students and Islam will be utilized as a baseline for adopting and implementing cybersecurity frameworks by various cities and counties throughout the state of Georgia. Islam says the City of East Point benefited greatly from their work.

“GSU’s students have been instrumental in updating and rewriting the City’s IT policies and procedures to meet the changing landscape of cybersecurity,” said Farhad Islam, IT Director for the City of East Point. “They focused on people, processes, and technologies to address IT security issues relevant to protecting the City’s key infrastructures. They worked as a team to develop a security training framework and performed risk and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of existing systems and applications in order to identify vulnerabilities and make recommendations on fixes. They learned a great deal from this engagement and the City benefited immensely from their effort and service.”