Training the Next Generation of Experts for the Upcoming Cybersecurity Boom

The business of defending data is projected to be a very big business in the coming years, potentially a $300 billion industry by 2024. And it’s no wonder: The amount of private data we now store online is staggering, as are the mounting dangers to its safety. By most estimates, ransomware or “phishing” attacks on private, corporate or government networks happen every 14 seconds and mobile malware attacks, which target cell phones through third-party apps, are on the rise.

New York State understands the significant threat cybercrime poses to its residents and businesses. Through recent legislation and educational and business development, New York State aims to change the way businesses approach cybersecurity while helping to train the future employees of a state-based industry boom that will address and solve data protection’s biggest challenges.

Photo by UAlbany

Photo by UAlbany

Building a well trained and flexible talent pipeline for an emerging industry with a growing number of unfilled jobs--which could climb as high as 3.5 million by 2021--is no easy task. The key is to bring the private and public sectors together to create programs that not only teach real-world skills but also innovate solutions and create future entrepreneurs. By offering tax-based incentives, a variety of funds and loans and other financial incentives that align related businesses with top researchers at nearby universities, New York is leading that skills-training charge by fostering an increasing number of targeted cybersecurity academic programs and research centers.

The recently opened $1.35 million Cybersecurity Innovation and Research Center at Hofstra University on Long Island received $200,000 in state support. A joint project of the university’s Fred DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Frank G. Zarb School of Business, the interdisciplinary center features one of the only academic cyber “war rooms” in the New York metro region that immerses students in the virtual experience of actual cybercrimes while solving them in real time.

The University at Albany takes a multidisciplinary approach to cybersecurity in its undergraduate and graduate programs offered through the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity and School of Business. The university offers a graduate certificate in Information Security that can be completed in five courses on up to doctoral degree programs in Information Science. Tightly integrated with the Capital Region and the wider cybersecurity industry, the programs also incorporate required internships and work experience. 

Both Utica College and Mohawk Valley Community College, not far from the nation’s first 50-mile drone testing corridor, have been recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security for excellence in cyber defense education. Utica was also designated a National Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence by the Defense Cyber Crime Center.

All of these programs have some kind of flexible online offering for nontraditional students, especially those coming from the business world. Utica’s master’s programs in Cybersecurity, Fraud Management, and Data Science, and Pace University’s M.S. degree in IT with a Cybersecurity Focus are all offered online. Fordham University’s Masters Program in Cybersecurity is designed for both working professionals and full-time students and offers a mix of online, hybrid, weekend and evening classes.

And if they want to start even earlier, New York high schoolers have yet another option. They can begin honing their skills at Camp CryptoBot, a National Science Foundation-funded camp led by Pauline Mosley held every summer at Pace University in Pleasantville.