LSU and U.S. Secret Service Partner to Address Cyber Challenges for Louisiana, Nation
April 13, 2023
Cross-campus opportunities forge partnership to support national security, protect Louisiana’s citizens and transform Tigers into the next generation of agents.
BATON ROUGE— LSU and the United States Secret Service, or USSS, have entered into a formal agreement for technology and talent development in cyber and for state and national security. The Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, strengthens the interactions and collaborations between the agency and university in research, talent and outreach. The initial engagements from the agreement span computer science and cybersecurity, athletics and continuing education. The effort aligns with LSU’s mission to enable the USSS and related agencies to access the entirety of the LSU system for talent and technology development in cyber.
The partnership will drive agency-specific research projects, connect students directly with agents, protect vulnerable Louisiana citizens from cybersecurity attacks and engage Tiger athletes for future career opportunities.
Since the MOU was signed:
- LSU administrators traveled to USSS research labs to explore USSS capabilities and discuss future engagements on and near campus.
- LSU researchers have been invited to propose R&D projects in areas critical to law enforcement, such as digital and memory forensics.
- USSS and LSU Athletics are exploring future agent career paths for student athletes.
- USSS was present at LSU’s recent announcement of a new partnership with Louisiana’s largest ports on cyber talent development and protection of critical infrastructure, which are shared security objectives for USSS and for LSU.
- Through LSU Online & Continuing Education’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, at LSU, USSS agents are now hosting educational cybersecurity sessions for the elderly, often the target of criminal activity.
“Our partnership with the Secret Service allows us to tackle tough security challenges and through research and talent generation,” said LSU President William F. Tate IV. “From the day the Secret Service joined us last year on the stage to announce our intent to become a leader in cybersecurity, they have been committed to breaking the mold and showing the world what an agency and university can achieve by working together.”
“This partnership is an opportunity for us to connect with students who are the future of the service,” said Leslie Pichon, special agent in charge of the USSS New Orleans field office. “From research to athletics, LSU is a perfect fit, and when we learned about LSU’s and President Tate’s vision for cyber and commitment to excellence, it was the full package.”
“Almost every financial crime uses cyberspace now; that's where crime is going,” Pichon continued. “Our agents are very much looking forward to working with LSU cybersecurity students on forensics, since they’re on the cutting edge of new devices and software that we need to know about to stop criminals. LSU students will help us solve real-world law enforcement challenges in the cyber realm, and the recruiting piece also goes hand-in-hand with that. Recruiting athletes is the perfect pipeline for talent since we’re huge on team mentality, discipline and physical fitness.”
LSU and the USSS have agreed to work together to advance cyber-physical system security and forensics knowledge, operational processes and tools. The partnership will provide an opportunity for LSU faculty and students to gain insight into and work on relevant, real-world law enforcement and protective services challenges, and expand the Secret Service’s connectivity to LSU’s talented students and nationally renowned cybersecurity expertise. LSU and USSS research personnel are actively collaborating on research funding opportunities and extending USSS capabilities on and near the Baton Rouge campus.
“This MOU gives the Secret Service access to some of the best cybersecurity students in the nation, who can help agents develop new tools and techniques to solve real national security problems,” said Golden G. Richard, III, professor of computer science and faculty lead on the LSU cybersecurity initiative, a key component of LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda. “It speaks to the caliber of our students’ technical expertise.”
The partnership builds on LSU’s recent designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations, or CAE-CO, by the National Security Agency, or NSA. The deeply technical cybersecurity program at LSU is led by world-class faculty in memory forensics, digital forensics, malware analysis and reverse engineering—all necessary tools in understanding and preventing cyberattacks for defense and industry. LSU also recently doubled its amount of annually awarded scholarships to students through the National Science Foundation’s Scholarships for Service, or SFS, program. CyberCorps students receive full tuition and intern at federal defense and intelligence agencies, as the National Science Foundation is looking to LSU to help rapidly ramp up the nation’s cyber and defense talent pipeline.
The USSS partnership adds to a growing ecosystem of ongoing cyber talent and research collaborations with state and federal law enforcement, intelligence, defense as well as industry partners.
USSS recently announced its Special Agent Talent & Achievement Recruitment, or STAR, program and is actively working with LSU Athletics to recruit recent student-athlete graduates into its ranks.
The STAR program positions exceptional team-oriented recruits to travel the world and serve the United States to protect elected leaders as well as kings and queens. In addition to this mission, the USSS has been safeguarding the national financial infrastructure since the agency’s creation in 1865. STAR recruits can transition into major cyber and financial criminal investigations that compromise global security. Recruits can qualify for full tuition reimbursement as well as support for ongoing education and professional development.
In March 2023, LSU and the largest ports in Louisiana announced a partnership to develop cybersecurity talent and technology for critical infrastructure with USSS present. The collaborative effort connects the university’s growing strengths in cybersecurity to the ports’ pivotal role in the global supply chain and in securing food, energy, goods and materials for the nation and world. LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda research and talent development priorities for agriculture, biomedicine, coast, defense—including cybersecurity—and energy all converge in Louisiana’s ports.
Earlier this year, U.S. Secret Service agents from across the state joined LSU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, or OLLI, for the first in a series of coffee chats on how to prevent elder financial abuse scams. More than 100 people attended the seminar to learn how to protect themselves against scammers.
OLLI at LSU hosts programs and seminars to educate people over the age of 50. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, in 2021, there were over 92,000 elderly victims of fraud resulting in $1.7 billion in losses, a 74-percent increase over the previous year. The USSS and OLLI coordinated to help senior citizens understand how they can protect themselves from scammers and cybersecurity crimes.
The USSS and OLLI at LSU are working together on future events.
The United States Secret Service, or USSS, protects our nation’s highest elected leaders, visiting foreign heads of state, major events and key locations. It also safeguards the U.S. financial infrastructure and payment systems, ensures the integrity of U.S. currency and fights cybercrime.
LSU is one of only a handful of universities in the United States that are designated as a land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant institution with an R1 designation for “very high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation. Cybersecurity is one of the university’s top five priority areas for research as it falls under the defense objective of LSU’s Scholarship First Agenda.