Next Gen IT Preps for Mobile Battles

By Stephanie Blanchard, Assistant Editor — February 18, 2013

Cyber security has become such a huge issue that it called for an executive order, and the expansion of cyber education is No. 8 on the list details covered by of the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative (CNCI).

According to research, 2012 saw explosive growth in mobile malware, and an alarming trend is predicted —  the use of vulnerabilities to extend "drive-by download" attacks on mobile devices. They are expected to be targeted as frequently as more traditional computers. This mobile cyber risk became apparent during the January 2013 Java vulnerability.

IT Today
There are more than three million IT professionals in the United States, and according to the TechServe Alliance, IT employment has grown by over 4% since January 2012, across every sector and industry. Yet there aren't enough cyber security experts in any of them.

The unemployment rate for this particular profession is virtually zero because the demand is so great and the enterprise is in dire need of experienced staff to counteract the always-evolving cyber threats, especially as mobile workforces increases.

IT Tomorrow
To help fill the void and prepare tomorrow’s IT, the Center for Internet Security (CIS), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has opened the Cyber Teaching Hospital in New York. The “residency” training program is designed to combine mentoring with hands-on casework during a semester-long, onsite residency.

"Academic programs are late to realizing the cyber security needs of the country," Adnan Baykal, Teaching Hospital Director told Mobile Enterprise. Some universities are doing a lot, and some started earlier than others, he said, but there is still a big shortage of experts nationwide. Therefore, "getting experienced individuals in the cyber security arena is very hard," he said.

The lack of experts in the enterprise will not be solved by this program alone, but he believes the Cyber Hospital is one of many efforts to contribute to the solution.

Best of the Brightest Chosen
Participants are selected based on a comprehensive vetting process, including recommendations and academic excellence.  John Jay College, Norwich University, NYU-Poly, the University at Albany, and Utica College are among the schools participating in the initiative, with more schools to be added.

CEO Will Pelgrin said CIS is also partnering with community colleges, "an incredible breeding ground for a vocational workforce." In all, the Cyber Hospital is looking for the "best of the brightest."

Once accepted, residents choose one major and two minors from a list of available modules: incident response, computer forensics, malware analysis, vulnerability assessment, ISO/security policy and security event analysis.

Residents spend three days per week on their major and one day a week on their minors. Students also "shadow" experts so when real threats come in, they are sitting side by side and observing the analysis process. In addition, residents must complete community outreach, by providing educational presentations to local communities, specifically to raise awareness about cyber security.

Mobile Focus
The curriculum also includes seminars by industry experts on such topics as social engineering and mobile GPS forensics.

"Mobile devices are everywhere now," Baykal said, “so it would be hard to have a curriculum that doesn't include that aspect. Working with law enforcement partners and current teaching modules, case studies have been conducted on iOS and Android devices. However, a majority of forensic cases tend to involve cyber intrusion and malware. The core curriculum is constantly evolving as cyber threats change, though, so mobile threats will likely become a larger part of the curriculum.”

Into the Enterprise
Additional training is not required once students walk out the door, save for whatever corporate policies they need to learn, Baykal stressed. Graduates are ready to work once they complete the program, and are likely to have their choice of employers since they are in a field that's in demand.  Still, the school still plans on holding job fairs and working with large corporations for recruitment. A recent job fair featured federal partners from various agencies.

Already in its first semester, CIS is accepting applications for a summer residency which will begin May 27, 2013.

By mentoring the "best of the best," the school is hoping to send out the next generation of cyber security professionals, those who will protect not only businesses, but the entire country, from the constant influx of unseen threats.


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