Cybersecurity Education and Education Cybersecurity [Weekly Cybersecurity Brief]

In our examination of the cybersecurity field and its accompanying news, a recurring theme is the need for more trained professionals. Much of this boils down to expanding education opportunities that both support future cohorts from the beginning of their interest in the career path and current leaders and team members who would benefit from updated instruction in the evolving state of the industry. There have been a number of recent announcements from higher education institutions that are designing programs to fulfill this very mission. 

Cybersecurity Education Programs

As Campus Technology reported, California’s San Diego State University just launched the SDSU Cyber Tech Academy. As mentioned above, this online cybersecurity certificate program was developed to help already established security professionals as well as those looking to start their journeys. The curriculum offered includes subjects such as “Cloud Security and Governance; Cyber Governance and Risk Management; and Securing the Nation and Enterprises with Artificial Intelligence.” The academy also presents participants with the chance to engage with practitioners from across sectors and learn from their experiences. According to Campus Technology, Jeffrey Roberts, dean of SDSU’s College of Sciences, stated that, “The online academy expands the educational opportunities outside of SDSU’s degree programs and reinforces the university’s commitment to cyber tech training.”

Georgia State University also has plans to introduce a new cybersecurity-focused program after receiving a $3.9 million award from The National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant stems from the NSF’s CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service program and marks Georgia State as one more than 80 universities invited to join the network. “As cyber threats continue to evolve in complexity, so must our approaches to cybersecurity education and our workforce,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the NSF. Through the funding, Georgia State shared that it would strengthen its cybersecurity training efforts with a particular approach that, “integrates cybersecurity, privacy, AI and machine learning competencies,” according to Daniel Takabi, associate professor of computer science, director of the INSPIRE center and the project’s principal investigator. Students of the program will take part in research projects and other hands-on activities. The university also intends for this initiative to contribute to the diversification of the cybersecurity field, presenting often underserved groups with the chance to learn about and carve out a career in the industry. This includes those associated with the military, first-generation college students and students from low-income communities.

These programs follow in the footsteps of others that were integrated into higher education institutions such as The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, which distributed $1 million across seven universities in 2021 to build learning opportunities relevant to the evolving state of the cybersecurity field. Schools including George Mason University, Longwood University, Marymount University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and William & Mary were able to allocate the money toward supporting research projects that ranged in topics from workforce development in cyberbiosecurity to threat intelligence, defense and mitigation. “These programs are designed to grow to help meet the ever-expanding cybersecurity workforce needs of Virginia and the nation,” stated Luiz DaSilva, CCI executive director. 

Education Cybersecurity Defined

The relationship between education and cybersecurity doesn’t end at cybersecurity education, however. There is also education cybersecurity to consider. This means that as we look to equip future and present cybersecurity experts with the proper tools, we must also equip schools themselves with the proper cybersecurity tools. EdSurge reported on some of the cyber issues facing school districts emphasizing an incident that recently impacted New York’s public school system. As the outlet described, “An ‘attempted security incident’ this month knocked out many of Illuminate Education’s digital services, including an online gradebook, Skedula, and a related parent-focused platform, PupilPath.” This affected instruction for several weeks, which is an occurrence that may become more frequent as the shift to digital learning continues to gain momentum and cyberattacks on education organizations increase. K-12 Security Information Exchange has documented that such threats are on the rise with “a five-fold increase in incidents since 2016.” This trend puts students’ information security at risk, which training has reportedly been implemented to address. The article states that a lack of staff training around phishing and ransomware scams still jeopardizes this security though. In order to prevent some of these threats from coming to fruition, experts suggest that schools review edtech operations thoroughly before adopting them. Policy may also come in handy. In October, the K12 Cybersecurity Improvement Act became law. This requires the CISA to study the landscape of cybersecurity risks aimed at school districts and issue a guide of recommendations based on the findings.

Key Takeaways:

“San Diego State U Creates Cybersecurity Certificate Program” – Rhea Kelly, Campus Technology

https://campustechnology.com/articles/2022/01/26/san-diego-state-u-creates-cybersecurity-certificate-program.aspx

  • California’s San Diego State University just launched the SDSU Cyber Tech Academy.
  • This online cybersecurity certificate program was developed to help already established security professionals as well as those looking to start their journeys.
  • In addition to its curriculum, the academy also presents participants with the chance to engage with practitioners from across sectors and learn from their experiences.

“Georgia State Receives $3.9 Million to Strengthen Cybersecurity Scholarship and Education” – Georgia State University, Yahoo Finance

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/georgia-state-receives-3-9-140000930.html

  • Georgia State University also has plans to introduce a new cybersecurity-focused program after receiving a $3.9 million award from The National Science Foundation (NSF).
  • The grant stems from the NSF’s CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service program and marks Georgia State as one more than 80 universities invited to join the network.
  • In addition to training purposes, the program also hopes to help diversify the cybersecurity field.

“Commonwealth Cyber Initiative funds $1M for student cybersecurity projects” – Kate Andrews, Virginia Business

https://www.virginiabusiness.com/article/commonwealth-cyber-initiative-funds-1m-for-student-cybersecurity-projects/

  • In 2021, The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative distributed $1 million across seven universities to build learning opportunities relevant to the evolving state of the cybersecurity field.
  • Schools included George Mason University, Longwood University, Marymount University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and William & Mary.
  • The universities were able to allocate the money toward supporting research projects on topics such as workforce development in cyberbiosecurity and threat intelligence, defense and mitigation.

“Epic Outages of Edtech Tools Show K-12 Schools Are Vulnerable to Cyberattacks” – Daniel Mollenkamp, EdSurge

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2022-01-26-epic-outages-of-edtech-tools-show-k-12-schools-are-vulnerable-to-cyberattacks

  • After a security incident impacted Illuminate Education’s digital services, which are relied on by New York’s public school system, learning was disrupted for weeks.
  • This case reflects the growing cybersecurity risks that schools face. K-12 Security Information Exchange has documented that such threats are on the rise with “a five-fold increase in incidents since 2016.”
  • In order to prevent some of these threats from coming to fruition, experts suggest that schools review edtech operations thoroughly before adopting them, expanding training for staff and emphasize the importance of policy like the K12 Cybersecurity Improvement Act.
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