“Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority,” said President Obama on May 29, 2010.
The President was speaking about safeguarding our country’s most vital computer networks, a critical need outlined in a recent 60 Minutes segment, “Cyber War,” which starts with a somber warning—“the next big war is less likely to begin with a bang than a blackout.”
In a recent USA Today: Technology Live article by Byron Acohido, UMUC President Susan C. Aldridge emphasized the urgency for professionals equipped to lead in this evolving field. “The workforce shortages in this field are at a critical stage,” she says. “We have a unique opportunity to provide an education in an area where there are jobs for graduates and where we can help advance the new field of cybersecurity.”
The White House Cyber Policy Review document says the U.S. is racing head-to-head with other nations—much like the race to the moon in the 1960s—to lead the world in cybersecurity, stating that we must “develop a workforce of U.S. citizens necessary to compete on a global level and sustain that position of leadership.” The White House report also calls for an expansion of cybersecurity experts in the Federal government; the Federal Chief Information Officers Council and the Office of Personnel Management are developing occupational classes and recommendations specifically for cybersecurity professionals. The Department of Defense has also launched its new Cyber Command, which aims to create 21,000 military and civilian cybersecurity jobs worldwide. And in June, the Navy issued a directive that defines cybersecurity management and assigns compliance responsibilities.
Responding to the call for action, UMUC has created the first-of-its-kind online cybersecurity degree programs: the BS in Cybersecurity, MS in Cybersecurity, and MS in Cybersecurity Policy. Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege, who chairs the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation, also chaired the UMUC committee that shaped the structure and curricula of UMUC’s new cybersecurity degree programs. “I can say with confidence that the curriculum for the new UMUC cybersecurity programs was structured with one goal in mind—to graduate professionals ready and able to address these growing [cyber] threats,” he says.
The university is also utilizing its Center for Security Studies, led by Dr. Amjad Ali, to enhance the cybersecurity learning experience with resources, seminars and networking opportunities, like the National Cybersecurity Seminar held last November, and the 2010 Cybersecurity and Homeland Defense Symposium and Job Fair held last May. The Center is also equipped with an advanced virtual security lab that lets students detect and combat simulated cyber attacks.
“[UMUC’s cybersecurity] programs provide a thorough grounding in the advanced theory and ethics of cybersecurity,” says Dr. Ali, “combined with the study of practical skills for identifying threats to an organization’s access to cyberspace and prevention, detection, and recovery from a growing array of cyber threats.”