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Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 5 Jan 2015

By Dr. William "Vic" Maconachy, Vice President for Academic Affairs

As industry and government alike present the case for the need for skilled workers in the cybersecurity area, a two-fold question which arises is, “What types of skills, and how many workers do we need?”. Recently, Symantec estimated for the need and places the current vacancy rate in cybersecurity jobs in the USA at 300,000, with the promise that  “the demand will likely rise as the private sector faces unprecedented numbers of data breaches and cybersecurity threats.”[1]

So where does America turn for cybersecurity-prepared workers? One answer is our great American higher education system.  Here, at Capitol, we share the distinction, along with 165 other colleges, of being a NSA/DHS Designated National Center of Excellence In information Assurance.[2] Our program addresses the workforce shortage by providing cybersecurity-prepared personnel at the Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral level.[3] We are one of a handful of such full spectrum degree programs in the USA. However, the issue of producing a professional cybersecurity workforce for the USA goes way beyond cybersecurity-focused degrees.  In a recent report on critical infrastructures, Dan Verton noted that:

The demand and the shortfall may be larger than anybody ever imagined if you consider the size and scope of the nation’s critical infrastructure. There are more than 300,000 manufacturing plants in the U.S., 50,000 water utilities, thousands of electric utilities, 200 natural gas utilities controlling 2.4 million miles of distribution pipes, 28,000 food processing plants, 100 urban rail systems and 140,000 miles of freight rail tracks — and that’s just a small portion of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

All of these infrastructure sectors are powered by computers and networks known as industrial control systems, which require unique skills and knowledge to keep secure. But training and educating enough cybersecurity professionals to protect such a massive network of systems may prove impossible.[4]

Thus, at Capitol, our preparing the next generation goes far beyond just the Cybersecurity curriculum. In Astronautical Engineering (AE) we offer a joint course in AE and Cybersecurity taught by professors from both departments. We offer an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in the Management of Cyber and Information Technology.  In the Information Technology Lab, Professor Mehri is assembling and teaching the vulnerabilities and fixes to Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.  In our Computer Science Department we teach secure computing as a part of many programming courses.  In taking this approach we fulfil the challenge set forth in a 2014 study by the National Research Council of the National Academies which found that, “The cybersecurity workforce encompasses a variety of contexts, roles and occupations, and is too broad and diverse to be treated as a single occupation or profession.”[5] In that context we believe we are fulfilling the industrial and government needs in the emerging cybersecurity workforce for the USA.


[1] State and Local Governments Hustle to Fill the Cybersecurity Workforce Gap. As found in Government Technology, October 3, 2014. http://www.govtech.com/security/Cybersecurity-Workforce-Gap.html

[4] Verton, Dan. New Concerns About Cybersecurity Workforce Shortage in Critical Infrastructure Sectors.  Found in FEDSCOOP.   June, 26, 2014. http://fedscoop.com/cybersecurity-workforce-shortage-impacting-critical-...

[5] Professionalizing the Nation’s Cybersecurity Workforce? Criteria for Decision-Making.  National Research Council.  The National Academies Press. Washington, D.C. 2014. www.nap.edu.

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 17 Dec 2014

By Rosalie Evans, Professor, Capitol Technology  University

Many of my students are shocked when I tell them that there was no TV available until I was nearly 10 years old. And that my cousins and I sometimes watched the test pattern after school because there was nothing  else on. Worse yet, the test pattern was in black-and-white and only about nine inches square!  We were delighted when the horse racing reports from Laurel, Pimlico, and Bowie racetracks began about 4 o’clock  with the “win”, “place” and “show” dollars. We didn’t understand what the numbers meant, but it was better than the test pattern.

I was shocked to find, in my first year at Capitol in 1999, that students did not relate to events surrounding the assassination of JFK, which seemed like just yesterday to me, or to the Watergate scandal ten years later that toppled the Nixon administration. Now I am finding that the intense national reaction to 9/11 is just a vague memory for many of the this fall’s  incoming freshmen, most of whom were only four or five years old at the time.

Clearly, there is a generation gap of major proportions here. For me, communicating across that yawning chasm is one of the most rewarding, enjoyable, and, of course, frustrating  aspects of teaching at Capitol Technology University. In the last 15 years, this chasm has broadened to include not only cultural differences, but technological differences between myself and the tech-savvy students of the current generation.

An early indication of this digital dichotomy came quite a few years ago when I told a student that her conference was scheduled for “quarter of three”. Seeing the confused look on her face, I realized that this way of telling time made no sense to her.  Having grown up with digital clocks, fractions of an hour were not in her frame of reference. Instead, “two forty-five” brought a smile of relief and recognition.

A few years later I began using, in English Communications II classes, an article by Mark Bauerlein (2009) called “Why Gen Y Johnny can’t read non-verbal cues” that appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Bauerlein’s theory, backed by significant research, was that young people were losing the skill of reading body language because so much of their communication was taking place online rather than in person. Some students adamantly opposed his theory, but others admitted that online communication was easier, less emotionally taxing, and preferable to face-to-face conversations especially for “giving bad news.”  Like learning to play the piano, less practice makes for less skill.

Having  students practice sending different emotional messages with just non-verbal facial expressions and hand gestures was cause for hilarity, but, indeed, revealing of some weaknesses as identified by Bauerlein. Further evidence for his idea was that given a set of photographs, students were not very astute at interpreting the body language of the people in the pictures.     

The most recent generational abyss to be addressed by my students and me is the “connectivity” issue. Some years ago, the sign at the front of my classroom said “Turn off all pagers.”  No beeps, please. Then for a couple years, it said “Please turn off all iPods.”  (One student tried to convince me that his earbuds were really hearing aids, but the chuckles of his classmates gave him away.)  Now the bright pink sign says “No cell phones in class.”  It often comes as a surprise to students to find that I am not a fan of cell phones, and consider responding to cell phone calls in class distracting to the student, disruptive to the class, and disrespectful of the professor.  It takes a couple weeks before students routinely put away their cell phones when class begins, and pretend that they are isolated from friends and family for 90 minutes. 

My classes are not complete technological wastelands, though. The English Communications II class depends heavily on student connectivity via their laptop computers. Students spend about 75% of their class time using the internet to carry out individual research, to share information and resources, and to contribute to collaborative research and writing projects.  Student papers are submitted online  to Turnitin.com for peer reviews, plagiarism checking, and electronic grading. The English Communications I students recently spent 3 weeks in class working in pairs on their laptops analyzing a data set, collaboratively writing a summary of the information it revealed, and putting together a 10-minute slide show for their peers.

I’ve even become a fan of video games, though Grand Theft Auto appears to be beyond my capability.

So, our generation gap is not as insurmountable or as detrimental  is it first appears. In fact, the gap encourages entertaining dialogue, develops intergenerational  insight, and fosters rapport as a result of sharing personal experiences. Each of us learns to appreciate and respect the other’s point-of-view. This process, it seems to me, is education in its broadest and best sense.    

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 10 Dec 2014

By Xavier A. Richards, Director of Graduate Recruitment

In graduate recruiting, it is very important for us to keep updated with what our industry professionals are doing and what degrees and certificates they require to stay ahead of the curve. As a result, we try our best to attend and participate in security conferences all across the US and so during November we were in New York City for the ISC East Tech Show.

Capitol had an exhibit booth and we had the opportunity to speak with many technical reps in the physical security world from vendors, integrators, consultants or end users. We were able to promote our degree programs to the wide variety of attendees of this show.

Many of the individuals at this event were interested in systems integration, wireless security applications, access control, remote monitoring and video surveillance to name a few. This is a new area for us, as typically we would attend IT security conferences. This event provided us with a great opportunity to get exposure for a new set of courses we are looking to offer which relates to physical security and identity management. There were quite a few individuals seeking knowledge in data security and access control and we were able to talk to them about future online courses we will offer in that field. The attendees were from all over but mainly from NY, NJ, MA, CT and so with our graduate degrees and certificates being 100% online, it is very convenient for our students.

In the near future, pending approval, we will be offering a graduate certificate in Secure Access and Identity Management. Also, currently our students are working with the faculty on an ICAM (Identity Credential Access Management) project which deals with issues related to digital identity, access management and credential.  We are very excited to venture into the physical security space and provide the courses and tools that will help professionals advance their knowledge skills in this area.

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 9 Dec 2014

Attention all students - the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched the 2015 Secretary’s Honors Program (SHP) Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative for college students, and the deadline is fast approaching.  Through the program, more than 100 unpaid student volunteer assignments will be available to support DHS’ cyber mission at local DHS field offices in over 60 locations across the country. The application deadline is December 12, 2014.

Student volunteers will gain invaluable hands-on experience and exposure to the cybersecurity work performed by DHS cybersecurity professionals.  Participants will perform a broad range of duties in support of DHS’ cybersecurity mission, in areas ranging from cyber threat analysis to digital forensics to network diagnostics and incident response.  Student volunteers will begin in spring 2015 and participate throughout the summer.       

Learn more at http://1.usa.gov/1weXxUL and apply for the SHP Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative here. Additionally, please follow and engage the CSVI TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn  accounts.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 4 Dec 2014

Cybersecurity is no longer a concern only for specialists; as digital networks become increasingly integrated into our lives, it has relevance for anyone who logs on to a computer or uses a mobile phone. Join Capitol Technology University faculty and industry experts in a free webinar on Thursday (December 11th) that will explore cybersecurity strategies and best practices.

The  event, part of the IWCE's Virtual Show, will be moderated by Alan Tilles, chairman of the Telecommunications Department at Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A. Panellists will include cybersecurity guru Curtis Levinson, electronics engineer Nelson Hastings, Capitol cybersecurity program chair William Butler, and Capitol faculty member Howard Van Horn.

They'll be leading a discussion on how to build the elements of an effective cyber security strategy into communications infrastructure, adopt the best cyber security strategies for each infrastructure, and implement effective preparation and monitoring techniques.

Whether it’s the 9-1-1 system, power plants or transit, critical infrastructure communications must be solidly secured and protected. The challenges are ever-evolving; meeting them depends on staying informed. Capitol's panelists will help you do exactly that. The event will be held online from 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm EST.

Capitol will also be hosting an online "cyber-booth" at the IWCE Virtual Trade Show. Xavier A. Richards, Capitol's Director of Graduate Recruitment, will be on hand from 11 am to 5 pm to answer questions about the university and our programs. For more information about the IWCE virtual show or to register for the event, click here.

 


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