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Pathways the magazine of HCC

pathways cover spring 2013Spring 2013
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Urgency and Opportunity in the Workplaceook

Issue: Spring 2012  |  Section: Features

Phishing. Fuzzing. Trojan horses. Zero days. If you haven’t heard these terms yet, you will soon. Cyber jargon is referenced more and more frequently in the media and is growing in importance to the government and to businesses both large and small.

We’ve reached a crossroads in our technology-dependent world. Although it offers substantial benefits, technology brings complex risks and challenges. Every industry – retail, banking, health care, energy, and nonprofit – is vulnerable to cyber attacks.

"If you're in cyber, you're a rock star. Maryland is a major player in the cyber security job market, and there is far more demand than supply."

Cyber crime encompasses everything from identity theft, credit card fraud, email forging, software piracy, and computer viruses, to stealing trade secrets and government intelligence, to unlawful control of electric power grids, transportation and water systems. Examples are ubiquitous: a young college graduate found $700 mysteriously withdrawn from his bank account; the customer records of a local business were stolen; four major banks found their firewall defenses violated from an assault originating in China.

Approximately 431 million adults worldwide fall victim to cyber crime annually, at a cost of $388 billion in time and monetary loss, reports the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). NICE is comprised of federal agencies and representatives from academia and industry that believe it is critical to accelerate the availability of cyber security education and training standards and resources in the U.S.

“The sense of urgency to protect the foundations of our communities from cyber attacks is skyrocketing, requiring a cyber-savvy workforce trained with special skills. Competition for people with the right knowledge and training is fierce,” says Sharon Schmickley, Howard Community College (HCC) chair of the business and computer systems division.

Filling the Gap

The Mid-Atlantic region is a national epicenter of cyber security activities, described as the process of preventing, detecting, and responding to unauthorized access or attack of a computer or computer system.

A January 2013 report from CyberMaryland, a public-private partnership providing resources and services to the cyber security industry, identified approximately 20,000 current science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) -based cyber security job openings at more than 1,000 companies in the commercial and government sectors of the state.

 “If you’re in cyber, you’re a rock star. Maryland is a major player in the cyber security job market, and there is far more demand than supply,” says Rick Geritz, chairman of CyberMaryland. “The community colleges play a major role in preparing people with courses and certifications required to help address this dramatic job growth.”

Filling the workforce gap requires a great deal of flexibility. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. NICE says the cyber security industry is still in its infancy with new threats and defenses identified weekly, causing the parameters of jobs and educational requirements to keep changing.

Cyber in the CurriculumNSA and Homeland Security Logos

“Our mission is to address student, workforce, and community needs with programs that incorporate experiential learning, state-of-the-art hardware and software, experienced faculty, and area resources,” Schmickley says. “The key is to remain agile, in anticipation of change and more change.”

HCC’s cyber security steering committee is continuously examining the most appropriate ways to deliver current, compliant programs and courses that meet industry standards and fill a specific need in the marketplace. A new position, director of cyber security, has been created at HCC to collaborate with faculty, staff, outside businesses, and other educational institutions.

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated HCC as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education for fulfilling rigorous cyber training requirements. HCC is also one of only nine schools nationwide – and one of two community colleges – to have received the National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) Award from the Department of Defense’s Cyber Crime Center (DC3). These recognitions validate the college as an educational provider capable of effectively delivering theory and practicum and also furnishing students with greater access to industry resources and unique internships and employment opportunities.

Pathways to the cyber security workforce include skills updates for mid-career professionals, certifications, career entry, and transfer capability. In the following pages, you’ll meet a cross section of students who have chosen HCC to help them achieve their cyber security career goals.

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