A News — 12 June 2014

hand on keyboard hackingIf you’ve been following the news stories about data security breaches at such retail giants as Target and eBay the following won’t surprise you.

The hackers are winning.

That’s the troubling conclusion in the 2014 State of Cybercrime Survey that was released recently.

“One thing is very clear: The cybersecurity programs of US organizations do not rival the persistence, tactical skills, and technological prowess of their potential cyber adversaries. Today, common criminals, organized crime rings, and nation-states leverage sophisticated techniques to launch attacks that are highly targeted and very difficult to detect,” the report said.

There’s an obvious need for information assurance expertise in business and government. For those tasked with preparing the current and next generation of cyber security experts, the report comes as no surprise.

Dr. William “Vic’ Maconachy is the Dean of Academic Affairs at Capitol College, in Laurel, Maryland.

He points that there is now a de-facto standard of due care in the fight against cyber crime. It’s called the NIST Cybersecurity framework.

“It remains voluntary,” said Dr. Maconachy. ” That’s a problem because, as the report states, cyber security systems in the private sector are woefully inadequate to defend against the current level of attacks.”

Capitol offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in information assurance. In fact, it began to offer a doctoral program in Information Assurance in 2010. Capitol College’s information assurance program doesn’t work in a silo.

“That wouldn’t make sense,” Dr. Maconachy said. “We offer joint courses that address cybersecurity as it relates to specific disciplines. We think that sets us apart.”

For example, students in Astronautical Engineering (AE) and students in cyber security can sit together in a course and learn cybersecurity as it applies to  AE.

Creating robust technical solutions is only part of what students learn in Capitol’s programs. They also gain experience putting those solutions to work in cybersecurity scenarios drawn from actual case studies.

 

In addition, by participating in cross-disciplinary teams, they learn how to apply cybersecurity practices within a collaborative environment similar to what they are likely to encounter in their careers.

“If you believe the solution to cybersecurity is simply researching and developing engineering solutions, you will never succeed in security systems and the information that resides in those systems,” said Dr. Maconachy.

Capitol’s graduate programs have strong appeal to today’s working professional. That’s because the need for additional expertise is immediate.  The school’s distance learning program is attracting candidates from all over the country.

In the meantime, the battle against the hacker continues.

“Cyber criminals continue to find ways to circumvent these technologies in order to obtain sensitive information that they can monetize,” Ed Lowery, who heads the U.S. Secret Service’s criminal investigative division, said in a written statement provided to the Associated Press.

Lowery said companies and the government need to take “a radically different approach to cybersecurity,” which goes beyond antivirus software, training employees, working closely with contractors and setting up tighter processes.

The top five cyber attack methods reported in the survey were malware, phishing, network interruption, spyware and denial-of-service attacks. And 28 percent of respondents said the attackers were insiders, either contractors or current and former employees or service providers, according to the survey.

“We have to keep up with hackers are doing in order to get ahead of them,” said Capitol’s Dr. Maconachy. “We take that job very seriously.”

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