[ISN] Cybersecurity experts wanted

From: InfoSec News (isn@private)
Date: Mon Jul 26 2004 - 03:27:36 PDT


By Emily Kumler
PC World, 07/23/04

New worries about national cybersecurity are prompting government
officials to press colleges for rigorous curricula that train future

More educational programs, and up-to-date classes that adapt quickly
to new needs in cybersecurity, were among suggestions at a hearing in
the House Science Committee Wednesday. Sherwood Boehlert (R-New York)  
chaired the discussion just before release of the 9/11 Commission's

Charles McQueary, undersecretary of science and technology for the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has repeatedly lobbied for more
money to train cyberexperts.

Current efforts

Threats develop and change at "Internet speed," Chet Hosmer, president
of Wetstone Technologies, a cybersecurity research development
company, told the hearing. He said it is essential that
higher-education curricula be able to adapt quickly to produce
security experts who can deal with changing threats.

Many Wetstone employees also teach at local New York community
colleges and larger universities, including Utica College of Syracuse
University, Hosmer added.

He pointed to criminal-justice programs as an example of how rigidity
within higher-education curricula creates fragmented cybersecurity
training programs.

"Unfortunately, most criminal-justice university programs are offered
out of the social science departments at universities, (whereas)  
computer science is a hard science, out of math or computer science
departments," Hosmer said. "Building programs that cross domains is
quite difficult for many reasons, and the student typically lacks
depth in either area and is ill-prepared for (work in) digital
investigation after graduation." Wetstone offers internships that help
students engage in practical application of the theories they learn in
school, he added.

The focus on practical skills promoted by most community colleges puts
such institutions in a perfect position to tackle cybersecurity
education, said Erich Spengler, an associate professor at Morain
Valley Community College in Illinois and director of the regional
center for systems and information assurance.

Spengler said 44 percent of the country's undergraduate students --
about 10.4 million people -- attend technical or community colleges.  
Those institutions rely heavily on local business and industry to
foster learning within the classroom and to serve as potential
employers after graduation, he added.

Military training

Second Lieutenant David Aparicio testified on behalf of the Air Force
and as class valedictorian of the Advanced Course of Engineering on
Cybersecurity. The program is designed to meet the recommendations of
the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, an initiative promoting
cybersecurity education in government, academia, and industry.

"ACE taught me not only technical competence but mental flexibility to
solve any problem placed in front of me - academic or critical,"  
Aparicio said. The intense ten-week program involved weekly all-day
lectures, and then the students had to solve real-world problems. The
14 students were mentored on military and industry projects, creating
a holistic awareness of real threats lurking in the cyberworld,
according to Aparicio.

"I plan to eventually work for the Central Intelligence Agency or the
National Security Agency with my new view of the world," Aparicio

Boehlert said the success of ACE and the demand for ACE graduates is
visible in the decision to double the enrollment this summer, to 28

Hosmer told the committee that while educational endeavors are
crucial, the training doesn't end on graduation day.

"Every week we get requests from (industry workers) who want to get
trained by us," Hosmer said. "They are often paying for the training
out of their own pocket and are taking vacation time to do it," he
said, emphasizing the recognized market demand for cybersecurity

Emily Kumler writes for the Medill News Service.

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