University's cybersecurity program scores high in increasing popularity and success

The growing field of cybersecurity is expected to rapidly expand, and thanks to student organizations like the Nevada Cyber Club, experience can be gained

University's cybersecurity program scores high in increasing popularity and success

The growing field of cybersecurity is expected to rapidly expand, and thanks to student organizations like the Nevada Cyber Club, experience can be gained

Because of an increase in the need for cybersecurity jobs in the workforce, in addition to the recent successes of the Nevada Cyber Club, the College of Engineering has launched the online master’s degree in cybersecurity program.

The University’s cybersecurity program ranked first in the inaugural National Cyber League College Rankings, which were released in mid-September. The department outranked other top cybersecurity schools, such as New York University, University of Maryland- College Park and the University of California, Davis.

“I am very proud of this major accomplishment by Shamik Sengupta of the Computer Science and Engineering department and director of the University’s Cybersecurity Center, and his entire team, for this national recognition that exemplifies our dedication to excellence and national prominence,” Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering, said.

NCL is a biannual cybersecurity competition for college students, consisting of challenges that allow students to perform their ability to identify hackers from forensic data, break into vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. The team was able to complete the Spring 2019 competition set with 99.26% accuracy.

Cybersecurity Ventures predicts there will be more than 3.5 million job openings in the field by 2021. It will be difficult for the industry to keep pace with cybercrime, which is predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Top job titles for the cybersecurity field include engineers, analysts, network engineers and architects and computer science managers and administrators.

"The need for a professionally trained cybersecurity workforce is crucial to the development of secure cyberspace and the economic prosperity of the United States,” said Shamik Sengupta, executive director of the Cybersecurity Center and an associate professor in the department of computer science and engineering. “Our cybersecurity online master’s program will not only help the United States to bridge the gap but will also help the students tremendously to build their career as a leading cybersecurity professional.”

In addition to this program, a graduate certificate in cybersecurity offers an interdisciplinary approach and takes a minimum of two semesters to complete as well. For more information, visit the cybersecurity program’s website.

Voice Over: We live in an interconnected world where information currency and our identities can be stolen without us even knowing it. All our data is stored and transferred onto servers and data farms across the nation. Hackers can access all of our personal information using a variety of techniques and malicious software to hijack and steal our personal data. There are as many as one million viruses released every day. Institutions,  governments,  and large corporations are under attack every day, and have to be defended through cyber threats.

Shamik Sengupta: We are seeing cyberattacks almost in a day to day basis, almost hour by hour basis,  in terms of like ransomware, a company got breached, a social security number got out, trade numbers got out, so there are tremendous implications from that perspective. We are trying to look at it from the defensive perspective. How exactly can we defend, how exactly can we help these businesses moving forward in the wake of this much amount of cyberattacks.

Nancy P Latourrette: But we also have to worry about cyber terrorism and cyber warfare. The main purpose of cyber terrorism is to go ahead and break into a system, so that you can create panic or you can go ahead and create fear; and that might be somebody wanting to break into a power plant or the power grid and shut that power grid down. So people all of a sudden don't understand why they don't have power, they don't have telephone service. And cyber warfare is traditionally thought of as is that nation-states that are trying to attack not in the traditional sense of land grabs, but trying to attack through a digital interface. So they try to steal secrets from another nation or they want to go ahead and get into some sort of system,  maybe a voting system.

Jay Thom: So there's a variety of positions we train students here for at UNR.  Not just in computer science actually, but across the whole spectrum of disciplines. Including cybersecurity defense analysts, cybersecurity first responder, cybersecurity architect, information security engineer, log analysts. We've actually had several students that have gone to work for NSA since I've been here in the last year and a half.

Shamik Sengupta: We are preparing the name generation workforce for the challenges that we are facing right now and as the challenges are coming forward. They learn about the different aspects of cybersecurity. They can take a technical service security minor or in an interdisciplinary cybersecurity minor they can graduate with a major, and then eventually they can also get a cybersecurity master's, a program which will be starting this spring 2020.

Nancy P Latourrette: What makes the University of Nevada, Reno unique in terms of their approaches to cybersecurity, and how they teach the students is that they don't just look at the technical aspects of cybersecurity. And that might be for something like social engineering, how do we help people not be susceptible to phishing attacks.  The psychology of it, the ethics, the history behind hacking and how that affects nowadays and what that means to the future.

Jay Thom: What we do here is we try to train students to deal with hacking, but in the process we have to almost teach them how to be hackers which creates kind of a dilemma for us in terms of our ethics.  So one of the things we're trying to do is weave in a lot of ethical training along with computer science, so that as we're giving people these tools they use it properly. One of the things we're really working to train our students to protect is our national infrastructure such as a power grid, city infrastructure, traffic lights, railroad crossings, our water systems , water treatment. The model of a city here, the smart city we call it. That has some industrial controls, industrial controls are typically very vulnerable, so we allow them to build it so they understand how the controls work,  and then we bring in a second group, once they get a working, to attack it, and then we bring the first group back and let them see how they were attacked and figure out how to patch these vulnerabilities.

Shamik Sengupta: So you can think that as you are gaining your cybersecurity knowledge you are not necessarily just getting the knowledge from the computer science, but you are getting a very comprehensive knowledge about cybersecurity. Which is really setting you apart from any other graduates in cybersecurity, and as you enter the job market, you will see how much implication these disciplines have.

Nancy P Latourrette: The jobs out there are just waiting for the students to graduate in come and join.

Jay Thom: Right now there are 1 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs. 300,000 jobs in America, and that's expected to go up to 3.5 million by 2024.

Shamik Sengupta: As you are moving into the workforce, remember that that you could be the next hero, you could be in the law enforcement agencies and it could be defending the nation. And that's where UNR is also playing a very big role, even the Cybersecurity Center is also playing a big role. To make sure that we are training the next generation working professionals. We are filling that gap, and you are equipped with the knowledge that you require.

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