By Dr. Patricia L. Prado-Olmos
Vice President of Community Engagement
California State University San Marcos
With cyberattacks seemingly in the headlines on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that cybersecurity workers are in demand.
Identity theft breaches are one type of cybercrime with which many people are familiar, but others include financial fraud, intellectual property theft, denial of service and hacking.
Cal State San Marcos is helping to fill a critical need by training the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.
Now in its second year, CSUSM’s Professional Science Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity is one of four in the nation accredited through the National Professional Science Master’s Association. A Professional Science Master’s program allows students to receive advanced training in a scientific field such as cybersecurity while developing valued business skills at the same time. As such, both CSUSM’s College of Science and Mathematics and College of Business Administration provide selected courses for students in the University’s cybersecurity program.
“We believe our program better equips our students to take on leadership roles in cybersecurity within their organizations,” said Teresa Macklin, interim director of CSUSM’s cybersecurity program and the University’s chief information security officer and associate dean for technology infrastructure.
“It is becoming increasingly important for IT professionals to be able to advise, counsel and communicate effectively with their organization on cyber issues, threats and vulnerabilities,” Macklin said. “We designed this program to provide them with the information and resources to lead their organizations’ effort to secure their technologies and operations.”
CSUSM’s cybersecurity program is geared toward working professionals by offering evening classes and can be completed in less than two years. Curriculum focuses on cyber-threat prevention and IT security management. Although students don’t need to have a cybersecurity background, they do need a computer science or technology-related degree (or experience) in order to qualify for admission.
One of the unique aspects of CSUSM’s master’s in cybersecurity is its Semester-In-Residence (SIR) program, which provides students an opportunity to apply their training and knowledge to address a real-world issue or project. The SIR program also allows companies that might not have the necessary expertise for a project to tap into the knowledge of CSUSM’s cybersecurity students and professors.
The SIR program is structured similar to an internship and is done in lieu of a master’s thesis. It requires about 300 hours of project work over 15 weeks.
Even if you’re not looking for a career in cybersecurity, you’ll still want to take precautions to cyber-protect yourself or your business. CSUSM’s cybersecurity program offers five tips to help:
- Back up your data – and do so regularly.
- Understand the value of what you need to protect. Your family photo collection? Your client/customer personal information? This helps you determine the measures you should – and those you must – take to protect those assets.
- Practice safe browsing. Don’t accept “certificate errors.” These are not normal. Each time you enter a password, check to be sure you are using an encrypted session (https://site or the lock symbol, etc.).
- Don’t reuse passwords. If one site is breached, the hackers will try your email or username and password on other sites. You are at risk if you are using the same password in multiple places. Get a password manager program if necessary.
- Make sure your computer is protected with current operating system and application updates along with an anti-malware application.
Click here for more information on CSUSM’s Professional Science Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity program.