University of Maryland University College (UMUC) marked its annual observance of National Cyber Security Awareness Month this October with an abundant slate of events and activities around and throughout the month to educate about the importance of cybersecurity, the workforce skills required to keep vital public and private data and systems secure, and to provide businesses and the public with tools and strategies to stay safe online.
On Sept. 28, the university launched a series of Facebook Live interviews with a trio of UMUC faculty experts who in real-time discussed and fielded questions from their audience on a range of cybersecurity topics, including the opportunity that collegiate cybersecurity competition provides universities in overcoming the challenge of teaching critical thinking skills, the critical role cybersecurity education plays in developing business leaders who are capable of safeguarding their organization’s data, and the critical importance of understanding the distinction between security and cybersecurity.
Ajay Gupta, chair of the Computer Networks and Cybersecurity program at UMUC opened the series with his session, “How Skills-based Hacking Competitions Build Critical Thinking Skills.” Such competitions not only build essential real-world, hands-on technical skills in data forensics, network defense, ethical hacking and other areas. Gupta suggests they also foster collaboration and develop the critical—and quick—thinking skills needed to complete complex, often unfamiliar tasks.
On Oct. 12, Valorie King, chair of UMUC’s Cybersecurity Management and Policy program spoke on “What Managers and Leaders Need to Understand About Cybersecurity.” The bottom line, King said, is that business leaders need to understand cybersecurity at a level that makes it possible for them to effectively lead those entrusted with safeguarding their organization’s people, processes, and technologies.
And on Oct.26, Mansur Hasib, chair of UMUC’s Cybersecurity Technology program discussed, “What’s the Difference Between Security and Cybersecurity?” Understanding the distinction between the two is critical because there is no such thing as absolute security anymore, Hasib said.
The Wall Street Journal mentioned UMUC’s well-received interview series in its article, “Cybersecurity Awareness Month Offers Free Resources for Businesses.” The three-episode series can be viewed on UMUC’s Facebook page.
Cyber at the Crossroads
The university had a strong presence, as well, at a series of conferences that shined a light on its breadth and depth of cybersecurity expertise and role as a leader in cybersecurity workforce education and development. UMUC hosted on Oct. 10 the daylong “Cyber at the Crossroads” symposium, co-sponsored by the National Security Agency’s Cyber Center for Education and Innovation–Home of the National Cryptologic Museum.
The conference, which featured national cybersecurity leaders from government, military, industry and academia, explored in-depth the wide-ranging implications of the secret exercise—Eligible Receiver 97—that the Pentagon conducted 20 years ago to assess the vulnerabilities of Department of Defense computer networks, the progress we have made since, and what the future may hold for the security of our cyber-enabled systems.
Highlights included the first-ever public showing of the newly declassified ER97 video briefing and a keynote address by White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Rob Joyce, who said that the confusion created by competing regulations weakens cybersecurity by giving companies the license to cherry-pick. “They are telling me right and left at the same time. I’m going to pick the one [regulation] I like best,’” Joyce said.
View his complete remarks and explore conference events via the Proceedings of Cyber at the Crossroads, which contains all symposium-related content, including videos of the keynote addresses and panel discussions.
A pre-conference interview with retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John Campbell who headed up the DoD’s response to ER 97 is posted on UMUC’s Facebook page.
UMUC sponsored the education track at the Cyber Maryland 2017 conference that convened on Oct. 11 at the Baltimore Convention Center. The annual conference underscored the state’s commitment to protecting critical infrastructure and UMUC’s mandate to prepare future cyber leaders.
Emma Garrison-Alexander, vice dean of UMUC’s Cybersecurity & Information Assurance program, moderated the session, “Cybersecurity Leadership: Preparing the Cyber Warriors of the Future,” which highlighted best practices for achieving effective cybersecurity leadership across public and private organizations and industries, as well as local, state and federal government agencies.
Session panelist Sherri Ramsay, former director of the National Security Agency Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) Threat Operations Center said a chief challenge, in the first instance, is growing the cybersecurity workforce. “With more than one million unfilled cyber jobs, we need a sufficient workforce to lead,” she said.
Investment—in workforce and innovation—was a common theme throughout the day. As Garrison-Alexander summed it up, “Leaders must invest in the people they bring in.”
Radio-Television Digital News Association
Prior to moderating the Cyber Maryland 2017 session, Garrison-Alexander conducted a one-hour session entitled “Cybersecurity Literacy for Journalists” at the Radio-Television Digital News Association’s (RTDNA) annual conference at Anaheim, California, in September.
She was invited to present after UMUC hosted a one-day symposium on cybersecurity literacy for journalists at the National Press Club in Washington in January.
Garrison-Alexander’s non-technical session provided journalists with a practical understanding of cybersecurity and a deeper perspective for reporting on cybersecurity issues, including Equifax’s massive data breach and the WannaCry ransomware attacks.
The session also covered topics such as how and why cyber intrusions happen, threats to critical infrastructure and the complexities of living in a world that is quickly moving from the Internet of Things (IoT) to the Internet of Everything (IoE).
Webinars for IT Professionals
As part of UMUC’s ongoing efforts to respond to the country’s most critical workforce needs, the university’s Corporate Learning Solutions department has developed, among other webinars, two presentations during the run-up to National Cybersecurity Awareness Month that focus on the continuing education and career advancement needs of working cybersecurity professionals.
The webinars coincide with preparations for UMUC’s launch this fall of the Washington metro area’s first Master of Science in Cloud Computing Architecture program—in response to the growth in cloud-computing spending by companies and the demand for professionals with skills in cloud computing architecture.
In the presentation, “Taking Ownership of Your Federal IT Career,” present and former federal government chief information officers along with senior educators in IT, cybersecurity, and cloud computing discussed the five most important steps professionals must take to advance a career in IT.
In “Advancing a Cloud First Approach in the Federal Government,” Maria Roat, chief information officer for the Small Business Administration and Simon Szykman, chief technology officer for Federal Services at Attain, explored how cloud computing can help the federal government improve agility, security, and cost efficiencies.
More information about UMUC’s Cloud Computing Architecture program is available here.
UMUC’s cybersecurity competition team, the Cyber Padawans, a dominating force in cybersecurity games worldwide, continued to rack up accomplishments with their second-place finish at a Halloween-themed hacking competition on Oct. 21.
Competition helps team members, comprising UMUC students, alumni, and faculty to advance their cybersecurity careers by building in-demand skills, through learning collaboratively, and through the opportunities it presents to network with employers.
Team coach Jesse Varsalone, a UMUC associate professor of computer networks and cybersecurity, said the Cyber Padawans have “consistently performed well across a variety of areas, including computer forensics, reverse engineering, hacking, penetration testing and cryptography.”
Learn more about the Cyber Padawans’ achievements during the teams’ busy fall competition schedule.
UMUC and two of its cybersecurity faculty members recently were honored with separate awards for excellence in cybersecurity programming.
For his stewardship of the cybersecurity graduate program, Mansur Hasib, chair of the Cybersecurity Technology Program in The Graduate School at UMUC, received the (ISC)² 2017 Americas Information Security Leadership Award—which included receipt of a crystal globe and a specially designed electric guitar, making him one of the organization’s latest “rock stars.”
(ISC)² is the international membership association for information security leaders. Its annual awards celebrate the accomplishments of leaders who inspire change within the information security workforce.
To learn more about the efforts that led to his award and his “rock-star” status, read “UMUC and Dr. Mansur Hasib Honored by International Information Security Leaders Organization.”
On Oct. 9, UMUC received the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) 2017 Circle of Excellence award for its undergraduate program in computer networks and cybersecurity. Program Chair Ajay Gupta described the award as a “prestigious honor” that not only demonstrates the dedication of program faculty members and staff but also their positive impact on building the cybersecurity workforce.
The program was selected for the award because of that demonstrated commitment, according to the EC-Council.
To learn more about the award, UMUC and the EC-Council read “UMUC Honored for Commitment to Cybersecurity Education.”
Faculty in the News
Several UMUC cybersecurity faculty members and staff recently contributed to or were cited in the press and industry-related publications and media.
Pete Young, a senior vice president of analytics, planning and technology at UMUC, appeared on Federal News Radio’s “Ask the CIO” program, “Moving to the cloud requires training workforce first, foremost,” hosted by Jason Miller, to discuss the university’s move to the cloud, the need to develop an expert workforce in the cloud field and UMUC’s Master of Science in Cloud Computing Architecture program.
Emma Garrison-Alexander, vice dean of UMUC’s Cybersecurity & Information Assurance program is quoted in the LA Times article, “All data that Move Across Wi-Fi Networks Could Be Susceptible to Hacking, Researcher Says,” that explores vulnerabilities in WPA2, the main protocol that protects Wi-Fi network.
Balakrishnan Dasarathy, collegiate professor and program chair for Information Assurance in UMUC’s Graduate School, discusses how to minimize identity theft in the Ask the Experts section of the WalletHub article, 2017’s States Most Vulnerable to Identity Theft & Fraud.
Loyce Pailen, UMUC collegiate professor, Cybersecurity Technology, is the featured expert in the article, “Securing the Future,” that examines educating all ages about hacking and the growing cybersecurity job market, which appears in the Fall Special 2017 edition of Diversity in Action magazine for STEM professionals and students.