Cybersecurity Education

Dwight Farris, PHD

Computer plugged in and charging

Cybersecurity programs in higher education are growing throughout companies. Educators are preparing to keep pace with the gap between available positions in the industry and skilled graduates. Many of these programs have the right idea by ensuring that educators can guide students throughout specific exercises that will prepare students. These exercises include up-to-date reading and research, but these studious approaches must be augmented with active learning hands-on activities. Events such as Capture-to-Flag (CTF) competition or exposure to a controlled “sandbox” environment where the students can experience an actual cyber breach. These types of activities will give the students training that will not be produced by a passive lecture or a requirement to write a paper based on investigating a cyber threat.

Must be Flexible

That said, cybersecurity programs must be flexible enough to move with the ever-fluctuating aspect of cybercrimes. Additionally, educators must continue to increase their knowledge on aspects of cybersecurity such as compliance, standards, risk assessment, incident response and disaster recovery.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Cybersecurity programs must also include a multidisciplinary approach and encompass skill sets from normally siloed engineering and/or computer science programs. Kim Jones, Director of Cybersecurity Education Consortium at Arizona State University (2019) stated that historically, cybersecurity fell under the computer science umbrella, but now higher education programs must provide a baseline for more operational and networking knowledge He added that students must be able to study the behavior of hackers. How do they think, and why do they do the things they do? I agree completely with Kim and believe that this is a key factor to understand how to deal with a cyber-attack.

Design to Attract Different Backgrounds

Lastly, cyber programs must be designed to attract different backgrounds; for example, cybersecurity programs can offer a forensics course opened to engineering and law students. That considered, the baseline for cybersecurity education should continue to be the development of technical skills, such as the knowledge of networking, operating systems and database models.

However, the programs should move from those aspects to a healthy dose of soft skill development, like communication, critical thinking, and decision making. These attributes are the components of an effective cybersecurity higher education program.

You will learn everything from simple threats to cyber safety to more complex ways to beat hackers by joining the Master of Science in Cybersecurity degree program at Grand Canyon University.

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