by Jeff Mehan, professor, computer networking, Lincoln Land Community College
Thirty years ago, we thought of security as locking the doors to our house or car. Businesses would put up a fence around their property or install an alarm system.
In today’s digital world, security takes on a whole new meaning. Cybersecurity has become vital for protecting individuals and families, as well as organizations (government, military, business, educational, financial institutions, corporations and others) that collect and store confidential data on computers, mobile devices and information transmitted through the internet. In the past few years we have been plagued by news about data breaches and millions of people’s private information stolen.
Cybersecurity is the means of protecting data, networks, programs and other information from unauthorized or unintended access, destruction or change. As the number of internet and mobile users grows, so does the opportunity for cybercrimes. Small mistakes in securing data or the lack of understanding in using social networking tools can prove detrimental to one’s security. These issues are just an example of the need to develop cybersecurity professionals to protect and prevent data from being used inappropriately. If data are not properly secured or if users are not educated about the use of social networking tools, hackers or unauthorized users can spread viruses designed to steal data for financial gain or inappropriate use.
Techrepublic.com notes the shortage in skilled cybersecurity professionals is increasing, reaching a projected talent gap of 1.8 million. At Lincoln Land Community College, we joined forces with the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Operations and Cyber Defense to design a degree in cybersecurity. The NSA and CAE support the President’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) which furthers the goal to broaden the pool of skilled workers capable of supporting a cyber secure nation.
LLCC’s cybersecurity program is designed for students who wish to enter the workforce as a cybersecurity professional. The certificate program can be applied to an associate’s degree. Students explore attacks against networks and computer systems along with necessary defense mechanisms, such as end user tools, tips and techniques to counter attackers. Hands-on projects, competitions and case studies are used to master the cybersecurity concepts.
LLCC will offer the cybersecurity program beginning this fall in the traditional semester courses; however, we are excited to announce the development of Competency Based Education (CBE) with our cybersecurity certificate. The CBE approach allows students to advance based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace. This method is tailored to meet different learning abilities and can lead to more efficient student outcomes.
This spring the computer networking faculty will be hosting two workshops, free and open to the public. The Security Awareness Day program is scheduled for Feb. 10, 1-2 p.m. in Logan Hall Room 1133 on the LLCC Springfield campus. LLCC instructors will be presenting ways to secure your computer and yourself from viruses and discussing current cyberattacks. We welcome community members to come and learn how to protect themselves from outside hackers.
On May 1, from 6-7 p.m., LLCC instructors will present “Is Your Wireless Safe?” also in Logan Hall Room 1133. Attendees will get tips on how to protect your home wireless system and see if you are safe when you are out using the public Wi-Fi at your favorite coffee shop.
To register for workshops and learn more about LLCC’s cybersecurity program, please visit the LLCC Cyber Center webpage at www.llcc.edu/cyber-center.