Feb 24 2017

Innovative Events and Training Reshape Cybersecurity Education

Colleges seek to better prepare students for careers in tech risk management.

When Nasir Memon, a computer science and engineering professor at New York University, was first starting his cybersecurity program, he wanted to offer more hands-on experiences for his students.

“I always thought cybersecurity was not a topic you talk about, but where you learn by doing things,” says Memon.

So he organized a cybersecurity awareness event that involved a team competition — with the goal of solving security problems.

The students liked the event so much, Memon decided to continue it each year and extend its reach to other universities. Now, this event is known as Capture the Flag and is open to high schoolers and undergraduates internationally.

“That’s really how NYU got on my radar,” says engineering student Christopher Thompson.

Thompson competed in Capture the Flag — which uses challenges modeled after real-world problems — during his last two years of high school. He now serves as an organizer for the event.

“Because we’re targeting undergraduates for this competition, it’s perfect because we’re getting them to think about the kinds of problems they would face if they chose cybersecurity as a profession,” says Thompson.

Inventive Classes Work to Build New Cybersecurity Skills

It’s estimated that by 2019, there will be 1.5 million open and unfilled cybersecurity positions. So it should come as no surprise that schools like NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering are seeking unique ways to recruit and educate.

For Wilbur Wright College in Chicago, students are learning cybersecurity concepts via a military-style boot camp.

Beginning this spring, the U.S. Department of Defense is offering cybersecurity training modeled after a boot camp from Fort McNair, the Chicago Sun Times reports. In the six-month program, Wright College students will work with active-duty military personnel to learn how to secure public and private networks.

After the training, the Sun Times reports that students will be eligible to take the Offensive Security Certified Professional Certification Test, of which Fort McNair boot camp graduates have an 80 percent passing rate.

In an effort to train students for future cybersecurity careers, Indiana University has announced a new interdisciplinary graduate program that will teach business, IT and legal students practical approaches to cybersecurity across all fields.

“If you speak with policy makers and technical specialists about cybersecurity, they often speak about similar problems but use totally different languages,” Scott Shackelford, director of the Ostrom Workshop Program for Cybersecurity and Internet Governance, said in the news release.

The new Master of Science in cybersecurity risk management degree will launch this fall.

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