Cyberstalking. Denial-of-service attacks. Fraud. Malware. Industrial Espionage. Every day, the news is filled with reports of computer hackers finding their way into databases to steal sensitive information.
Companies and people – now more than ever – need skilled, well-trained Information Technology Services staff to keep personal, sensitive data safe from cybercriminals. It’s a rapidly growing field. At Coconino Community College, the new Cybersecurity program is scheduled to begin this fall.
Computer Information Systems faculty member Jeff Jones will be heading up the new program. He says cybersecurity, at its core, is “protecting and securing electronic data and systems against unauthorized use and criminal activity.”
Why is cybersecurity becoming so important? “As more and more of our lives become electronic, everyone has now become a target – unlike 10 or 15 years ago when only health agencies, banks and large corporations were targets,” Jones said. “I think everybody has had an experience – or has a friend or colleague – with identity theft or security breaches, which are in the news almost every day.”
The two-year program is meant to give students the foundational knowledge and hands-on skill to enter the IT workforce with an emphasis in cybersecurity. Not only that, but some courses in the program align directly with industry-standard certifications.
Students can look forward to learning a full-bodied framework of practices for assuring information security, and they will study real-world examples of organizations that have experienced the pitfalls of not being adequately protected. Students will also get the latest information on network attack strategies and how to thwart those attacks.
“And hopefully, students will identify the challenges and cutting-edge nature of this area of CIS as well as the importance of teamwork,” Jones said. “I’m looking forward to getting the students on the ‘cyber-range,’ which will allow students to compete in scenarios from the protection and the attack points of view. And it will offer them the ability to tighten their own personal data as well as potential company systems, and learn how to think like a hacker to know how to stop them.”
Once students complete the program, job prospects are incredible, he said. “Just about any organization needs to have a cybersecurity professional or IT staff with cybersecurity knowledge.”
Companies looking to hire cybersecurity professionals include schools, private businesses, government agencies and even individuals, because cybercrime can happen to anybody anywhere.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, the cybersecurity field, which is well paid, is expected to grow by about 20 percent in the next five years. Jones said that any IT professional – from Help Desk employee to chief information officer – should have some basic understanding of cybersecurity now.
The Cybersecurity program is currently accepting registrations for the Fall semester, which begins Aug. 24. FBN
For more information about the CCC Cybersecurity program, visit coconino.edu/cybersecurity-aas.