SCIFs, Secrets, and Spanier

Utica College is installing a new “sensitive compartmented information facility” on its campus.

The Buildings & Grounds blog at the Chronicle of Higher Education posted some technical info about the room’s security features. The most impressive and unusual component is the foil that surrounds the room.

Not all SCIF’s have foil linings, a feature that makes this room particularly special. Mr. Rebovich said that when he was telling defense-security experts at the Air Force about the SCIF, they perked up when he mentioned the foil: “They said, ‘Oh, a foil SCIF? That’s interesting. We’ll work with you.’”

Zomg… did you say foil? Now we’re talking.

There’s more inside.

The room intentionally does not have Internet, but it does have its own heating and cooling systems, and its own electric service box.

The double-locked SCIF room is surrounded by a secure corridor. People will have to use key cards and thumbprints to get in. Some of the glass in the corridor is frosted to keep people from seeing in from outside. The corridor will be outfitted with cameras and dedicated security personnel.

When I saw this story, the first thing I thought of was our new Security and Risk Analysis major. The degree was introduced “to meet society’s need to assure information safety, combat cyber-terrorism and effectively respond to emergencies and disasters.” We’re graduating the first SRA students this week.

The second thing I thought of was President Graham Spanier’s involvement with the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board– he was the Chair. In January of this year, he wrote an editorial that outlined his top ten university-related national security concerns. The sixth point on that list seems to be the impetus for installing a SCIF.

Growing concerns about cyber security at universities and the vulnerability of our information systems and networks in the face of potential intrusions by foreign governments, organized crime, and hackers

Is anyone petitioning for a Penn State SCIF? I wonder if Spanier has considered positioning Penn State as a university focused on national security issues. (Keep in mind that if he wants to get into government, he’ll need to rethink his path now that the Secretary of Education position has been filled.)

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