In this state-of-the-art lab, students learn cutting-edge investigative practices and perform professional-level forensics and cybersecurity work alongside seasoned professionals.
“We cannot underestimate the threat that cyberattacks pose to our personal and national security,” said Senator Patrick Leahy on a recent visit to the Center of Experience that bears his name. “Champlain College and The Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity (The Leahy Center) are on the cutting edge in training the next generation of experts to protect us from such threats.” Students and faculty spent the afternoon chatting with the senator and showing him their digital forensics and cybersecurity work.
Since its opening in 2010, the world-class laboratory has expanded its facilities to become the largest student employer on campus. It provides digital forensics and cybersecurity expertise to local nonprofits and private industry, as well as federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
For students, the lab is an extension of their work in the classroom, giving them added experience they wouldn’t get elsewhere. They learn cutting-edge investigative practices and perform professional-level lab work alongside industry experts. Leahy Center grads go on to work for national and international security firms and agencies, including Stroz Friedberg, Kivu Consulting, and the Department of Defense.
“We figure out where attacks are coming from and how we can prevent them. Securing local Vermont communities is our number one priority here,” says Amanda Johnson, ’19, who is also a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) scholar. She told Senator Leahy she became interested in a career in digital forensics after her identity was stolen.
Computer Networking & Cybersecurity senior, Dylan Francis, spoke to the Senator about a project he’s working on that involves the Internet of Things (IoT). “So, it’s a really great project because the IoT is growing rapidly,” says Francis. “There are billions of devices connecting online every single day—from your microwave to your coffeemaker.” Researchers at The Leahy Center realized there was a huge need for IoT information, so Francis and others created an IoT wiki. “It contains about 30 devices right now, and we’re still adding to it,” says Francis. “For example, we included the Lutron Maestro which is a ‘smart switch’—a light switch you think might be harmless but contains personal information.”
Senator Leahy was led through a password-protected door to an inner sanctum where the advanced team works. “This is our Security Operations Center,” said Zach Burnham, ’19 // Computer & Digital Forensics. “The space includes dashboards that give us an overview of the networks we monitor. They alert us when something might be happening that needs our attention.”
“I’m proud of the work The Leahy Center does,” said Senator Leahy after he had met with students and toured the Center. “I believe it is a model for our nation.”