In June and July of 2016, hackers breached the databases for elections systems in Illinois and Arizona. Although Boards of Elections officials said they are confident the hackers changed nothing, the potential for disaster is real. The Illinois database includes names, birthdates, and addresses. In some cases, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers or driver’s licenses were included.
This is only one example of what “cyber-hackers” can do. A massive cyber attack of Wendy’s restaurants was discovered in May. Malware was installed on the restaurant’s systems to obtain credit cardholders’ information. And one of the more infamous hacking cases occurred in 2013 when retailer Target reported millions of customers had their personal data stolen.
“Cybersecurity threats are a moving target, and new vulnerabilities emerge on a daily basis,” said Dr. Vyas Krishnan, computer science professor for Saint Leo University’s Donald R. Tapia School of Business.
As these threats grow, the need for highly trained cybersecurity employees also grows. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states computer occupations are among the fastest-growing career fields, with jobs for computer systems analysts increasing by 21 percent through 2024 and information security analysts (cyber experts) by 18 percent.
Saint Leo University anticipated growth in this area and was one of the first universities to begin a cybersecurity program. Other universities and colleges have started adding classes.
Cybersecurity jobs account for 11 percent of all IT jobs, according to job market data experts at Burning Glass Technologies, and 84 percent of cybersecurity job postings require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
Saint Leo began a master’s degree program in cybersecurity in Fall 2014. As of Fall 2016, the university now offers a Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity, with courses being offered online. As demand grows, classes will be offered “on-ground.”
Military personnel and veterans are highly sought after by those hiring cyber experts, as many have experience in high-pressure situations and cybersecurity, as well as having top level security clearance. More than 10 percent of cybersecurity job postings advertise a security clearance requirement, according to Burning Glass Technologies.
It is important to find a university that works with military personnel and those transitioning to civilian life. Those who hope to study cybersecurity and computer science also should look for classes that offer hands-on opportunities, educators said.
Students learn security tools and technologies that are used by cybersecurity professionals in their daily work activities through a virtual lab environment where students have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in a mock IT infrastructure and real-world software tools with realistic security scenarios, Saint Leo’s Krishnan explained. “Online and on-ground students can take advantage of a state-of-art cybersecurity facility and the simulations it offers through secure, remote access,” he said.
Saint Leo University, based in Saint Leo, FL, in the Tampa Bay area, serves more than 16,000 students at its University Campus, more than 40 education centers in seven states, and online. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated Saint Leo University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) through 2021.
For information about computer science and cybersecurity programs, go to saintleo.edu/griffon or call 800-707-8846.
It is important to find a university that works with military personnel and those transitioning to civilian life. Those who hope to study cyber-security and computer science also should look for classes that offer hands-on opportunities