Threats are ever-increasing, and so are jobs for security specialists.
by Michael Tu
With the recent high-profile cyber incidents targeting Sony Pictures, Anthem, Home Depot and Target, cybersecurity has become a major concern for businesses and consumers, as well as our government's national security agencies.
Today, businesses are facing formidable challenges to cybersecurity because of increased cyber and global connectivity and the widespread use of mobile devices. Hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making cybersecurity a shared mission between government and private business.
Over the past decade, millions of sensitive data records have been compromised, and a large number of fraudulent activities have been committed. Such security breaches have resulted in substantial financial losses, intellectual theft, loss of personal records and damage to the reputation of company brands.
Safeguarding precious data assets should be a crucial part of business strategies. To effectively combat cyber threats, an effective cybersecurity strategy from top management is critically important. But, in a recent cybersecurity survey reported by PricewaterhouseCoopers, just 13 percent of the leading companies surveyed had an information security strategy in place.
Currently, the majority of businesses are taking a reactive approach to fighting against cyber-attacks. Businesses need to create and execute a proactive plan to identify valuable and sensitive data assets, examine system vulnerabilities, assess potential threats, take appropriate countermeasures, and continuously conduct systematic testing on the controls.
Businesses need to keep pace with new technology. A highly trained cybersecurity workforce is the key to assuring that the nation has adequate security measures to protect and defend its critical infrastructures. According to a report by Burning Glass Technology, nearly 210,000 cybersecurity related job openings existed nationally in 2013. As the demand for cybersecurity workers continues to outstrip the supply, it is a critical mission for the education system to develop the next generation cybersecurity workforce.
Purdue University Calumet is committed to cybersecurity education, research and development of the cybersecurity workforce. Purdue Cal has carved out a niche in the Midwest for students who want to pursue undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity degrees.
We have a strong regional presence in cyber security research, education and outreach, and are engaging in collaboration with government organizations, businesses, and academic institutions in the Northwest Indiana and Chicago metropolitan area to fight cyber threats.
As a designated National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security (NSA/DHS), National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance /Cyber Defense, we have partnered with other national CAE centers, community colleges, local K-12 schools and local communities to promote cybersecurity research and education. We invite K-12 students and teachers to campus to experience cybersecurity higher education and college life, including teacher workshops, training camps, classroom lectures, lab demonstrations, campus tours, library and campus housing visits.
Faculty members and students have regularly visited local schools to mentor K-12 students on technology projects and competitions. The annual security awareness month program has been launched in the past few years to raise security awareness for local community citizens.
Program articulation agreements and course alignments have been done with Indiana and Illinois community colleges and four-year international institutes to facilitate student transfer to pursue cybersecurity and computer IT degrees at Purdue Cal. Faculty members have secured funding from the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health and industry to support undergraduate and graduate students research and educational on cybersecurity.
Students in computer IT programs have received state-of-the-art cybersecurity education, participated in national cybersecurity competitions and summer research programs. With a comprehensive IT skill set, well-trained in application development, network technology /administration and cybersecurity, students have been placed with IT jobs in health care, financial, software development and government sectors, in Northwest Indiana and nationwide.
Michael Tu is assistant professor of computer information technology in the College of Technology at Purdue University Calumet.