Cyber attacks on companies and government agencies have become an all-too frequent occurrence–crippling working systems and compromising personal data.
Southwestern College has now built a new cyber forensics program that will teach students the security analyst method of detecting a hacker or malware, be present in a security system and then build the preventive methods to stop the cyber intrusions in the future. The program is also the only one of its kind requiring student internships.
“There is so much more for cyber forensics now, and so much more opportunity,” said Southwestern College Professor Michael Speyrer. “People used to think that cyber forensics just meant that you would be tracking down sexual predators on the computer. It is so much more than that.”
“We are teaching our students how to essentially prevent someone from “breaking in,’” Speyrer said.
Southwestern’s cyber forensics program is 32 units where students will earn an Associate Degree in Science upon completion. This program includes courses in Administration of Justice, Digital Systems and Computer Information Systems. The 24-month program will launch in fall 2021.
Included in the program is an internship and background check. Students will learn how to use python and the same state-of-the-art software that many federal agencies use. Upon completion students will have earned at least one year of practical experience.
“Our world is going further into the digital direction everyday,” Speyrer said. “This industry has so many doors and opportunities for our students, and we want to set them up for success.”
Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving, high-need emerging discipline. According to the 2019 Burning Glass Technologies report, “Recruiting Watchers for the Virtual Walls: The State of Cybersecurity Hiring,” the number of cybersecurity job postings has grown 94% since 2013. For each cybersecurity job opening, there is only a pool of 2.3 employed cybersecurity workers for employers to recruit.
Cyber forensics and cyber security experts can make more than $100,000 a year, according to an annual report made by the human resource company ADP. Burning Glass Technologies reports that 13 percent of all IT jobs are found in security, and 1.5 million new jobs have been posted since 2010.
Because of the global demand for cybersecurity and information security professionals, Southwestern College has high hopes to prepare future cybersecurity specialists and specialized workforce—from technicians through managers—into the labor pool. Cyber forensics at Southwestern College has hopes of making this program completely online in the near future to meet these demands.
Using the guidelines of the California Cybersecurity Career Education Pipeline and Pathway Project (CCCEPPP), Southwestern College faculty hope to coordinate and link education, training and workforce development programs to increase statewide cybersecurity capabilities and enhance cyber-resiliency.
“To achieve cyber security education, workforce development, teaching and research objectives, we developed collaborative partnerships between educational institutions, key public/private sector partners and non-government organizations,” said Keith Clement, the California Cybersecurity Task Force, Workforce Development Education Subcommittee Chair.
Southwestern College cyber forensics students are ahead of the curve by taking part in a forward-thinking program that will prepare them for the future.