University Offers New Cybersecurity Degrees

UMUC Program Responds to Current Threats, Needs

By Upasana Gupta, July 22, 2010.
University Offers New Cybersecurity Degrees

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ddressing the growing need for hands-on cybersecurity professionals globally, the University of Maryland University College will offer a new online cybersecurity program this fall at both the bachelor's and master's degree levels.

The program is designed by Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, who chairs the Deloitte Center for Cyber Innovation and is a co-chair of the Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency.

"My main motivation to develop the program is to create a workforce that can help protect us from ongoing threats - cyber espionage, identity theft, data theft - and help us track down cyber criminals and effectively respond to attacks and experiences on a daily basis," Raduege says. "The one goal in mind is to graduate professionals ready and able to address these growing threats."

Applications are being received now for UMUC's new bachelor's and two master's degree programs in cybersecurity and cybersecurity policy, which will launch this fall. Dr. Susan Aldridge, UMUC president, expects 1,000 to 1,200 students by the time classes start. So far, the program has been popular - at the graduate level, the enrollment has already reached 150 national and international students.

This new offering is mainly targeted at mid-career working professionals who are looking to take up distance learning on a part-time basis. The typical career paths include chief security officers, cybersecurity analysts, digital forensics experts, legislative analysts, and others.

The bachelor's program - requires students to complete 120 credits, including 41 credits in general education, 33 of major coursework and 46 in the minor, electives and other degree requirements. Students can choose to complete the program fully online or in a hybrid format that combines online study with on-site instruction. Graduates of this program will have completed courses in computer forensics, cyber crime and cyber terrorism, as well as security issues in emerging technologies.

The two master's degree programs - focus on prevention, detection, countering and recovery from cyber incidents, while the cybersecurity policy program places additional emphasis on examining strategies for societal responses to cybersecurity threats at enterprise, national and global levels. The roles of government, interorganizational alliances and international cooperatives are explored, along with legal concepts such as privacy, intellectual property and civil liberties. Completing a UMUC master's degree in cybersecurity or cybersecurity policy will require a total of 36 credits of coursework, consisting of six, six-credit sequential online courses. Students will also be required to complete special internship projects.

The online interaction is largely within the university's learning environment and is a threaded discussion. A weekly module is posted by the instructor in the form of a case study or questions, and students are asked to participate by responding to the posting with their comments and questions.

"The gaps we are addressing with this program are learning to adapt in a changing threat landscape and realizing this is a global issue we all face as we work in cyberspace," Raduege says.

What the Courses Cover

The key takeaways for students include a solid grounding in the current issues of cybersecurity, and holistically approaching issues. Topics include:

  • Learning about encryption, authentication and managing networks;
  • How do viruses, Trojan horses and worms work?
  • How hackers work and what tools they use;
  • What motivates a hacker?
  • Understanding the regulatory aspects - which laws are useful to prosecute cybercrime?
  • The role of ethics - what ethical framework can cybersecurity professionals use to make the right decisions in the workplace?
  • How cybersecurity affects specific industries such as finance or healthcare;
  • Intellectual property and trade secrets;
  • How can cybersecurity professionals ensure compliance to regulatory and legal frameworks?
  • International cybersecurity standards and importance of resource sharing.

"The need for cybersecurity is prominent today because of the realization that we are so dependant on critical cyberspace infrastructure in immediate ways," says Alan Carswell, chair of information and technology systems at the University of Maryland University College "A system hack can cause a real devastation far beyond the inconvenience of an identity theft or problems of having money stolen from a bank account; it can actually put our lives at risk in many ways."

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