US Naval Community College Selects University of Maryland Global Campus for Academics-Based Cybersecurity Program

QUANTICO, Va. — The U.S. Naval Community College selected University of Maryland Global Campus as one of the Pilot II cybersecurity associate degree programs Feb. 11, 2022.

This continues the relationship developed during the USNCC’s first pilot program and provides active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen the ability to earn cybersecurity certificates or associate degrees that will directly contribute to the naval services and set them on a path of lifelong learning.

“It is important that we have a high-quality cybersecurity degree program that our Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen know will help them do their jobs better today and into the future,” said Randi R. Cosentino, Ed.D., president of the USNCC. “This is why we chose an institution that has demonstrated a history of excellence in working with military students and the cybersecurity community.”

“We are proud to continue to be part of this important process in launching the USNCC,” said Douglas Harrison, Ph.D., dean of UMGC’s School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology. “UMGC offers cutting edge learning tools and cybersecurity faculty who are working every day in the field to provide students with skills to succeed right away in this extremely fast evolving and in-demand industry.”  

This agreement provides active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen an opportunity to earn naval-relevant certificates and an associate degree in cybersecurity that will directly contribute to the readiness of the naval services and set them on a path of life-long learning.

Naval professionals who pursue the Associate of Arts in General Studies with Concentration in Computer Studies degree through the USNCC will have an opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of technical development and operational implementation of cybersecurity skills to design, administer, secure, and troubleshoot computer networks, as well as the data protection skills needed to safeguard critical cybersecurity infrastructure and assets. The degree will also have an established transfer path to four-year degree programs in cybersecurity.

The degree pathway also includes a certificate in Naval Studies taught by the USNCC’s faculty and a professional cybersecurity certificate through UMGC. 

UMGC is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense school by the National Security Agency and a center of Academic Excellence in Digital Forensics school by the Defense Cyber Crime Center. While the USNCC is pursuing accreditation, UMGC will be the primary degree grantor for this associate degree program, ensuring the service members who graduate from this program receive a transferable degree from an accredited institution.

Active duty enlisted Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen can fill out an application on the USNCC website, www.usncc.edu. The first courses will start in the fall of 2022.  

The United States Naval Community College is the community college for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. To get more information about the USNCC, go to www.usncc.edu. Click on the student interest form link to learn how to be a part of the USNCC Pilot II program.

Carter G. Woodson and the Significance of Celebrating African-American History

Editor’s Note: This commentary by Damon Freeman, PhD, professor and director of the history program at University of Maryland Global Campus, was written as part of the university’s commemoration of African-American Heritage Month.

African American Heritage Month is central to American history. Started in February 1926 by Dr. Carter G. Woodson as Negro History Week to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, the month underscores the contributions of African Americans as well as the challenges facing American democracy.

Understanding Woodson, who is sometimes referred to as the “Father of Black History,” is essential to fully understanding the significance of African American Heritage Month. Born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, he was the son of two formerly enslaved parents who were illiterate but valued education. New Canton represents in many ways the heart of Virginia history. Within a one-hour drive lies Charlottesville, the home of slaveowner Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia; Richmond, the capital of the Confederate States of America; Appomattox Court House, where the Confederacy surrendered; and Robert R. Moton High School in Farmville, which became one of the five cases at the center of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision.

Woodson was largely self-taught and worked in the coal mines as a teenager to help support his family. He finally received his high school diploma at the age of 22. He taught school for several years before earning a bachelor’s degree in literature from Berea College in Kentucky in 1903. In 1908, he earned A.B. and A.M. degrees from the University of Chicago. In 1912, he became the second African American to earn a doctorate (after W. E. B. Du Bois) when he completed his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. Since no white university was willing to hire him, he began his career teaching high school in Washington, D.C., before joining Howard University as a professor.

Woodson became convinced that the historical profession and academe generally had no interest in African American history or engaged in deliberate misrepresentations. For instance, most white historians at the time supported the view that the end of slavery and Reconstruction in the South had been a failure that did not benefit African Americans. Woodson devoted his entire life toward creating institutions dedicated to nurturing Black scholarship and pushing back on racist interpretations of American history. He helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History). In 1916, he started the Journal of Negro History (now the Journal of African American History) and a smaller publication called the Negro History Bulletin. Beginning in 1922, he managed all three operations from his home in Washington, D.C.

In addition to building institutions, Woodson was also a prodigious scholar. He wrote or edited several books including A Century of Negro Migration, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861, and The History of the Negro Church. Several of his publications were more specialized such as The Negro Professional Man and the Community, With Special Emphasis on the Physician and the Lawyer. But by far his most famous work was the 1933 publication of The Mis-Education of the Negro, an analysis of how African Americans were taught by the American educational system to be culturally inferior and dependent.

In 1926, Woodson introduced Negro History Week as an annual celebration. He promoted it at schools and conferences, in the pages of newspapers and in the two journals he edited. Negro History Week caught on and grew into events celebrating African American contributions including parades, lectures, poetry readings and exhibits. By the time of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the week had been expanded into Black History Month. 

Woodson died suddenly from a heart attack in 1950 before he had the chance to see the fruits of his lifelong efforts. While his life was impressive, it is important to remember that Woodson fits within a long tradition of African American intellectuals and educational activists dating from the late 18th century to the 21st century. African American communities demanded educational access or created their own schools in Boston, New York and even Wilmington, Delaware. In the slave states, where schools for the enslaved or free were almost always banned, African Americans resorted to clandestine means under the threat of punishment or death to educate themselves and their families. 

Like Woodson, African American educators and activists have always sought to document and take pride in racial achievements and contributions while simultaneously challenging American society to live up to its democratic ideals. This tradition is needed now more than ever. In several states including Kansas, Ohio, Texas, and Utah, politicians have proposed or demanded the removal of books offering challenging descriptions of race and racism. In Virginia, the new governor has created a hotline for parents to report “divisive practices” in K-12 schools. In Oklahoma, a state legislator has proposed a law that would ban teaching about “unique” oppressors or victims in the history of slavery. The ban would apply to any state-funded educational institution, not just K-12 schools.

As these ominous trends gain traction, recognizing African American Heritage Month and its humble origins becomes even more important. It arose as a community effort because of the repeated failures of American schools and society to provide a decent education to all of its children. Indeed, this was Woodson’s point in creating Negro History Week. He hoped it would be a necessary step toward creating a world free of bias, hatred and prejudice. 

The fact that Americans are debating whether to ban works from school libraries such as Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved shows us that our society is failing to learn the lessons of African American history. Clearly, much more work remains to be done to fulfill Woodson’s vision.

Edward J. Perkins: “Warrior for Peace”

Editor’s Note: As UMGC commemorates African American Heritage Month, we remember one of our most distinguished graduates. This article, written by Alita Byrd, first appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of Achiever magazine. Edward J. Perkins—a 1967 graduate of University of Maryland University College (now University of Maryland Global Campus) and the first Black ambassador to apartheid South Africa—died on November 7, 2021, at the age of 92.

In 1986, when President Ronald Reagan named Edward Perkins U.S. ambassador to South Africa, people sat up and took notice. At the time, the South African government was still enforcing a strict system of apartheid, holding African National Congress leaders like Nelson Mandela behind bars, and using repressive laws to keep the majority black population from voting and achieving equality with whites. Perkins—a career diplomat, soldier, and 1967 UMUC graduate—would be the first black ambassador to the troubled country.

Perkins was no stranger to intolerance. He grew up in Louisiana in the 1930s, served in the recently desegregated U.S. military beginning in the early 1950s, and aspired to a career in the overwhelmingly white Foreign Service. And while working in Taiwan, he met and fell in love with Lucy, his wife-to-be—a beautiful girl from a very traditional Chinese family.

“I had the temerity to ask Lucy for a date,” said Perkins, “and she took her reputation in hand to go out with an American.” When Perkins proposed, Lucy’s father locked her in the house and told her brothers to make sure she stayed there. So Perkins sent a driver to rescue her at midnight while he organized a wedding for the next morning, Romeo-and-Juliet style.

“When her family found out she was married, they decided there was nothing they could do,” Perkins said. “Now we are good friends.”

Perkins was equally focused when it came to advancing his career. After first serving in the U.S. Army in Korea and Japan, he remained in Japan while studying Japanese. Always on the lookout for adventure, after returning to university studies in the United States, he and a buddy decided to join the French Foreign Legion, but found they didn’t have enough money to get to France. So Perkins joined the U.S. Marine Corps instead. He recognized the opportunity offered by UMUC’s overseas operations and soon earned his undergraduate degree.

“I think the professors were some of the best I’ve seen,” Perkins said. “Their presentations were challenging and the interest they generated among the students was genuine. One instructor I remember was probably one of the best math and statistics professors in the world. He actually made mathematics come alive.”

Around the same time, Perkins recalled two Foreign Service officers who had made a lasting impression on him when they spoke to his high school class.

“The travel attracted me, and learning languages,” he said. So Perkins took the Foreign Service exam. He didn’t get in, but he was undeterred. The next time, he was accepted and went on to build an impressive diplomatic résumé, serving on the ground in Africa and in policy in Washington, D.C.

He would need every bit of that persistence and experience as he tackled the post in South Africa, where the consequences of failure were grave indeed.

“There was a very tenuous relationship between the U.S. and South Africa back then,” said Perkins. “A growing number of Americans were insisting we should help dismantle apartheid. The president was convinced that if the U.S. did not lend a hand in helping to dismantle this racist government, there could be a race war in South Africa. He decided he had to do something quick and dramatic to show everyone that he did not countenance a government based on race and religion and advantage for one group of people over another. The secretary of state [George Shultz] recommended a black ambassador. He said it was time to send a professional diplomat, so they went down a list of about nine people and finally settled on me.”

Some saw Reagan’s decision to send a black ambassador to a segregated country as a political message to the South African government. But others—including the Reverend Jesse Jackson—criticized Reagan, whom they saw as racist, for doing too little too late. And many, both in the United States and South Africa, saw the appointment as little more than a symbolic step meant to quiet critics who were calling for tougher sanctions against the apartheid government.

Jackson went so far as to ask Perkins to refuse the assignment. But Perkins believed it was his duty as a Foreign Service officer to go, and, in November 1986, he took up his post in Pretoria with Lucy by his side.

“The assignment was to turn the embassy into a change agent,” said Perkins. “I wanted to make sure that everything I did, from the moment I arrived, was focused on bringing about political change in South Africa without violence. That’s what Reagan asked for.”

It was a daunting task. From the first, South African president P. W. Botha—never known for his polished manners—made clear his dislike for Perkins. When Perkins presented his credentials after arriving in South Africa, Botha shook his finger in Perkins’s face and warned him sternly, “I don’t want you getting involved in our affairs.”

But Perkins did get involved—first in Pretoria, then elsewhere around the country, working tirelessly for the duration of his posting. During apartheid, Pretoria was a symbol of white Afrikaaner rule and oppression. The city was hated and feared by black South Africans as a citadel of racist policies. But Perkins was determined not to bow to the rules. He instituted an embassy policy that forbade employees from patronizing establishments that did not accept black customers.

“Pretty soon, all the restaurants around the embassy in Pretoria— which were highly segregated—sent word that they would accept anyone,” Perkins said.

Next, the American embassy organized an exhibition at the art museum in Pretoria, showing the work of both black and white artists and sending invitations to both black and white guests.

“The museum managers were astonished that there were black artists in South Africa,” said Perkins. “[Today], these efforts might not seem all that dramatic, but in a place where segregation was so rigidly enforced, it was a [significant] step.”

Many resented those steps, no matter how small, and Perkins—who spent a great deal of time walking the streets of Pretoria—often was exposed to their open hostility.

“I was hissed at by young Afrikaaner mothers pushing their babies in strollers,” he said. “It was not an enjoyable assignment—it was stressful for all of us—but we had a job to do.”

He began to court the black community assiduously, making contacts around the nation. In Soweto, the sprawling black township outside Johannesburg, Perkins met with civic leaders; in Mamelodi, the largest black township outside of Pretoria, he met with religious leaders. He even met with activists in squatter camps outside Cape Town.

And while he tried to avoid the media spotlight, Perkins didn’t hesitate to make his convictions known.

“I sense a growing realization that a valid political system here must be one that correlates with the demographics of the country—not merely black participation or black cooperation, but a government that truly represents the majority of South Africans,” Perkins wrote in an article published in a South African journal in December 1987. While the United States insisted that this had been its policy all along, Time magazine called the statement “pure dynamite” and a “breakthrough.”

Every couple of months, Perkins flew back to the United States to brief Ronald Reagan on the situation in South Africa. And despite warnings to the contrary, Perkins recalled that he always felt fully supported by the administration.

“Once he made the decision [to appoint me], he never backed off,” Perkins said. “The Afrikaaners tried many ways to go around me to get to him. But Reagan’s response was always, ‘The U.S. ambassador speaks for the American people and this administration.’ Without that complete support, we couldn’t have done what we did. But the president gave me permission to make policy from the embassy in Pretoria—something that never happens.”

Perkins left South Africa before he had the satisfaction of seeing the apartheid government formally dismantled, but there was no question he had helped plant the seeds of change. And although violence occasionally flared as the old government was replaced, the country never spiraled into the civil war that so many feared.

Perkins, meanwhile, went on to serve as Director General of the Foreign Service (the first black officer to ascend to the top position), U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and ambassador to Australia. Now retired, he remains as busy as ever, serving at the University of Oklahoma as senior vice provost for international programs and executive director of the International Programs Centre, where he holds the Crowe chair in geopolitics.

In 2006, the University of Oklahoma Press published Perkins’s memoirs—aptly titled, Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace.

UMGC Mentors Share Their Career-Shaping Wisdom to Help Others

A mentor has the power to make a life-changing difference in someone else’s career. In recognition of National Mentoring Month this January, mentors in UMGC’s alumni career mentors program share insights about how they use their time and talent to help others reach their professional goals.  

“Mentoring has the potential to make a huge impact on up-and-coming professionals, which is why the university offers, Community Connect,” the increasingly popular mentor program, says Nikki Sandoval, associate vice president of alumni relations. “We’re so grateful to our talented and generous alumni who give so selflessly to help other professionals get ahead.” 

Here’s some key advice from some of UMGC’s alumni career mentors:  

Dr. Catherine Pearson ‘11 
Business and Management PAS, MBA 

Why do you mentor?  
When I contribute to the development of mentees to become more innovative thinkers, they can reframe their own experiences. They can consciously make informed decisions about their careers. When mentees accomplish their goals, I feel honored to celebrate with them. 

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals?  
When choosing a career path, don’t be afraid to step out into an uncomfortable environment and experiment. Use LinkedIn or other social media platforms to leverage your research. Seek out professionals who currently hold the job title within the industry you want to pursue. Learning directly from professionals in your field will impact the direction of your career. Request a 15-minute phone call followed by a visit to the organization or a virtual orientation.  

Ask questions about the day-to-day demands of the job. Find out if your skills fit into the job or industry. Build on your skills and strengthen other areas. Be open to exploring opportunities that contribute to your desires of where you want to be in your career. Getting there may require change. Have a mindset of flexibility and implement the needed changes to get you there.  

Find a mentor with the experience and accomplishments that will most support you during your journey. Be sure the mentor’s values align with your values—filter on the importance of integrity. Engage and invest your time in getting to know your mentor. Demonstrate your potential by action. Follow up and share your progress, clarify what you want, and determine if they are a good fit to help you move from where you are to where you want to be. Cultivate the relationship  before  you ask them to be your mentor.   

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out?  
As mentors, we have to be careful not to assume that students have the same desires as we do, even though they may pursue the same career. Challenge students to maximize their potential in discovering their passion and where they fit into the world. Help them explore opportunities by providing resources and introducing them to partnering networks. Be that champion for them. Celebrate their successes to let them know they have support.  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring?  
As a mentor, I connect with mentees and build trust. They have a safe space to share their concerns, worries and personal life decisions that may affect their careers. Creating a safe space fosters a culture of growth and leadership for mentees. Mentoring helps stretch me, further develop as a leader and gain new insights into generational differences. 

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 
Challenges create growth and development opportunities. The bigger the challenge is, the stronger we become if we remain steadfast as we work through those challenging opportunities. 

Aisha Summers ’16 and ‘19 
Bachelor of Science in Laboratory Management, Master of Science in Biotech-Regulatory Affairs 

Why do you mentor? 

Mentoring is one of the ways I give back. Personally, I didn’t have much luck with mentorship when I began my professional career. I had to seek out most of the information I yearned for by reading career-advice blogs and then make sense of it all on my own. My hope is to be a source of information and support system to someone else that needs it.  

Most importantly, representation matters. I mentor so that someone else sees the reflection of a woman of color, mother, wife and person with dyslexia navigate a successful career.  

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals? 
Invest in yourself by keeping your resume up to date. You never know when you’ll need it to justify a promotion or entertain a new position.  

Avoid becoming complacent. Take on new challenges by volunteering for a task or project at work. This is how we grow as professionals and gain expertise in our industry or profession.  

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out? 
Students just starting out have a lot of questions and many times are overwhelmed or feel uncertain about what is next for them. The biggest help a mentor can provide a student who is just starting out is to be supportive and encouraging,  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
Mentoring is a pathway to new professional relationships. A mentee can become a professional colleague. I love seeing a text or email from a mentee who wants to share a new achievement or success.  

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 
Eventually I learned to reduce stress and burnout. I bought a planner specifically for work. It helped me take notes in meetings, prioritize my tasks and better communicate my workload with my leadership. 

I have also learned that any position I hold needs to be mutually beneficial to the organization I work for and to myself. My advice is do not stay in any position that is not providing you an opportunity to grow personally and/or professionally. 

David Austin ’17 and ’20  
Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy, MBA  

Why do you mentor?  
I mentor with the hope I can inspire other people that they are capable of doing anything they really see in their hearts and minds.  

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals?  
Have an open mind and be flexible. Most importantly, be prepared. There is no easy road in terms of paying your dues. The younger that you are, the more opportunities that come your way. Really be prepared to make sacrifices.  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
The biggest benefit to mentees is that they start getting different ideas. I mention different ideas and different paths they may never have thought of before. I think that’s what’s helpful. 


What key lesson have you learned during your career?  
The one thing I learned from a security information perspective is that in in other businesses, we are taught to take the initiative and not ask permission to do things. That’s fine, but in cybersecurity, I learned that you have to ask permission. You have to work as a team.  

Esther Ndungu ‘15 
Bachelor of Science in Gerontology & Aging and Psychology 

Why do you mentor? 
As a military spouse and mother of two boys, attending school was an endeavor I did to better myself and to expand my knowledge on different subjects. I had a great learning experience while attending school at UMGC, so mentorship is my way of giving back to the school and a way to guide the current students to achieve their academic goals.  

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals? 
I would advise an upcoming professional to choose a career that is in line with their hobbies. They will be motivated and excited whenever they engage in work that they enjoy. 

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out? 
I did not have a mentor when I started college, and because of this, I made so many mistakes along the way by trying out everything. It became overwhelming, and at some point, I did not have the motivation to continue pursuing my educational endeavors. Guiding students who are just starting out to create practical schedules is essential in ensuring that they have enough time allocated to attend to personal matters, as well as staying active in school.  

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
Mentorship is like having VIP access to specialized information that would help one advance faster. The mentee gets to avoid some pitfalls because they can leverage both good and bad experiences from others, enabling them to implement aggressive strategies to their goals. 

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 

Over the cause of my career, I have come to learn the value of properly picking out electives in school and the importance of strategic partnering, or networking. In general, these present unique opportunities to expand an individual’s scope and enhance necessary skills for future growth and success. 

Keith Gruenberg ‘94 
Bachelor of Science in Management Studies 

Why do you mentor? 
I enjoy encouraging others and providing guidance and alignment to help them navigate an ever-changing world. I remember transitioning out of the military and all the unknowns and trying to work through all the challenges on my own. I’m hoping my mentoring helps reduce challenges and anxiety and results in each person taking a giant step forward in his or her career.     

What’s your best advice for up-and-coming professionals? 
Know what you are looking for or at least what gets you excited and network, network, network. There are many options out there, but you can speed up the process by knowing what you are looking for and what are your must-haves for a company. Building a broad network will hopefully get you introduced deeper into a great company with a great fit.   

How can a mentor help students who are just starting out? 
When a student is just starting out is the perfect time to connect with a mentor. A mentor can provide assistance on navigating college courses and aligning that to a potential career aspiration. Connecting with a mentor from the start allows you to build a relationship and grow with the student as they work through key education and employment decisions.   

What are some of the benefits of mentoring? 
Mentoring keeps me connected to the new workforce and keeps me connected with current trends in business. I want to be as prepared as possible to provide great support and guidance based on the current business situation. It also helps me to understand the concerns and focus for students getting ready to join the workforce. I feel like I’m making a difference and giving back.   

What key lesson have you learned during your career? 
Nothing comes easy in the real world. You have to want it and work for it to make it happen. If you don’t get it, pick yourself up, determine where you need to improve and try again. Persistence and tenacity are your friends.   

Interested in mentoring through UMGC’s Career Connect program? 
If you’re looking for a mentor or would like to sign up to become a mentor, visit careerquest.umgc.edu to learn more about UMGC Career Services and to register to participate in the Community Connect program. To speak with someone directly about the program, contact communityconnect@umgc.edu.

Read more UMGC Alumni News

Brain-Computer Interfaces: A New Frontier for Hackers 

Guest author Jason Pittman, Sc.D., is a collegiate faculty member at UMGC where he teaches in the School of Cybersecurity and Information Technology. 

The potential of Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) is enormous, from helping people with disabilities to improving work and personal performance but so, too, are the untold cybersecurity risks. 

The idea of using our brains to control a computer may seem far-fetched, even in science fiction. Yet, brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are already commercially available. We can use a BCI to float a ball in mock Jedi fashion, enable the physically disabled to enter data into a computer, and academically plumb the mysteries of human-computer interaction. Indeed, companies such as OpenBCI and Emotive offer research-grade equipment. Manufacturers including Mattel and NeuroSky sell toy BCIs.  

The good news is these devices benefit millions of people today. The bad news is that BCIs provide three new frontiers for hackers.  

First, a little background about BCI technology. BCI technology is either invasive or noninvasive. Invasive BCIs measure neural activity from within the brain through some form of implant. While such methods are medically intrusive, the fidelity of recording is high since the sensors connect into neural clusters and can measure single-neuron activity. Noninvasive BCIs gauge neural activity using sensors placed on the scalp. Signal recording in noninvasive BCIs is broad because sensors can only measure clustered neural activity. Currently, all commercial BCIs are noninvasive except for some medical implementations, such as cochlear implants. 

The promise of BCIs is impressive, but the technology carries attack opportunities for hackers.  It is important to understand the cybersecurity of BCIs if we are to proactively prevent threats to this new frontier of innovation. We need to be ahead of the hackers willing to use it for nefarious outcomes.  

Malicious software. Malicious software—viruses, worms, and Trojans—have existed since the dawn of the internet. This software has one purpose: to cause harm and mayhem. Modern malicious software, or malware, leads to more than $20 billion in damages every year. On one hand, the concept of malicious software infecting a wired-up brain is scary. On the other hand, the concept of ransomware or malicious software that uses encryption to lock the brain is downright terrifying. 

Integrity. Our data and their transmission are the primary drivers of modern computing. With BCI, our thoughts become part of the operating landscape. As such, BCI data are subject to the same at-rest and in-transit problems as regular data. Just as normal data can be intentionally corrupted to cause harm to the integrity of the data, hackers will be able to corrupt or otherwise alter thoughts-as-data.  

Interception. An obvious vector for hackers is going to be reading our thoughts since BCI uses our thoughts as input to a computing system. Hackers can already do this with data flowing over a computer network. They can intercept and block or intercept and alter messages. Because a BCI transmits neural activity, we should expect that existing interception techniques apply. When this happens, no thought will be private or safe. 

We should not let the grimness of potential attack vectors dampen the great potential of BCI. We have conquered harder problems. Moreover, we are in a unique position to understand the threats before hackers start exploiting these vulnerabilities. But we need to begin now, and we need to take these frontiers seriously. 

Can Public-Private Partnerships Solve Our Cybersecurity Woes?  

Guest author Bruce deGrazia, JD, CISSP, is a collegiate professor of cybersecurity management and policy at UMGC.  

Every day a new cyberattack takes place somewhere in the United States. These attacks can originate domestically or internationally, and their motives range from financial gain to state-sponsored, low-level warfare. Whatever the threat, the common thread is that there is no easy way to stop them.  

What is the solution? We’ve seen policy approaches, including simple strategies such as training. We’ve seen technical approaches, such as stronger firewalls. Also in the national cybersecurity conversation is a discussion around what is known as the Orlando Doctrine, in which private organizations can legally target suspected hackers and destroy their infrastructure. None of these approaches appear to work, as successful cyberattacks have only increased, leading experts to search for other solutions.  

One of those is the idea of public-private partnerships. 

A public-private partnership takes various forms, from the sharing of costs and profits, as occurs with a toll road, to the sharing of information between the private sector and the government without the fear of liability for antitrust. It is the latter type of public-private partnership that has been proposed to address cyber-vulnerabilities and attacks. The question is: Will it work?  

This idea is not new. As early as 2009—a lifetime in cybersecurity years—the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a not-for-profit organization of private sector government contractors in the intelligence and national security fields, offered various models of how such a partnership would work. INSA looked at successful partnerships in fields other than cybersecurity to determine whether those approaches could be transferred. Ultimately, it proposed bringing together a series of panels, the members of which would encompass individuals, private sector companies and government organizations, to share information and draft voluntary standards for use across industry. 

INSA’s proposal was good but was never implemented. To have done so would have required action not only by the executive branch of government, but also through legislation. In addition, the private sector, including internet service providers, would have needed to accept the concept of voluntary regulation. The information technology industry is vehemently opposed to regulation of any sort. Even voluntary standards were a non-starter. 

Legislation has been proposed in Congress to create public-private partnerships for cybersecurity. In 2020 and 2021, the bipartisan Enhancing Grid Security Through Public-Private Partnership Act was introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate. This bill focuses on just a single industry—the electricity creation and transmission sector—but one that is seen as particularly vulnerable and for which a successful attack on the grid would have devastating consequences. Focus on preventing such an attack is a logical place to start. 

The proposed legislation is hardly earthshaking. It simply directs the secretary of energy to create a program to develop a basic framework for auditing, self-assessments, training, sharing best practices and setting up third-party vendor guidelines. It also requests that the secretary of energy provide a report that evaluates policies and procedures for enhancing the cybersecurity of the grid.  

So, what happened to the bill? In the previous Congress, it passed the House and was sent to the Senate, where it died in committee. In the current Congress, the bill has also passed the House and is back in the Senate—under consideration by the same committee that previously reviewed it. 

Unfortunately, the outlook for public-private partnerships to advance cybersecurity looks dim. The most comprehensive proposal, that of INSA, appears to have gone nowhere. Even approaches that target a single industry, like the bill now in the Senate, are not assured.  

Perhaps the public-private partnership is not the way forward. We need only look as far as the INSA proposal to see why. Voluntary regulation is unpopular. Industry does not like regulation in general and will use the process to delay any attempt to impose rules. The IT industry is notoriously independent and likes it that way. Also, because there are as many cybersecurity technology solutions as there are companies, competition among the creators of those solutions is fierce. Where would the “best practices” come from?  

The bottom line is that the INSA and legislative approaches presuppose a high-level of voluntary cooperation between government and the private sector. In our competitive marketplace, that cooperation is difficult to achieve if a trade secret might be revealed or if a company might lose a strategic advantage.  

Cyberbullying: Five Common Misconceptions 

Guest author Richard White, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor of cybersecurity information assurance at UMGC. He is also the author of the books “Cyberbullying: The Silent Sickness of America’s Youth,” and “Cybercrime: The Madness Behind the Methods.” 

In the last 15 years or so, a new menace has emerged that threatens to erode trust and destroy young lives. Before children had access to mobile phones, social media accounts and online gaming forums, bullying occurred mainly in schoolyards and on playgrounds. There, at least you knew who the bullies were and that you would be safe at home. Sadly, today we live in a world where “cyberbullies,” perpetrators who use electronic communication to intimidate or threaten, follow their victims right into their homes and even the safety of their bedrooms.  

Cyberbullying occurs out of public view and away from the sightline of mindful parents, teachers, friends and bystanders. Victims of cyberbullying have nowhere to hide. 

Many people do not take the cyberbullying epidemic seriously, mainly because they do not see it or understand its implications. But the consequences can be devastating. According to the Journal of Health Economics, statistics collected as far back as 2017 indicate that internet bullying increases suicidal thinking among its victims by 14.5 percent and suicide attempts by 8.7 percent. In recent research published in the Journal of School Violence, Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin, co-directors of the Cyberbullying Research Center, found that students who experienced bullying or cyberbullying are nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide.   

Social media, an integral part of how teens, especially, communicate and interact with friends, has made it particularly difficult for parents to identify the signs cyberbullying and even more difficult for them to prevent it. The social aspect of social media—namely retweets, “likes” and comments—opens a world of opportunity for nefarious behavior. An original message can be distorted, private photos can be shared, and a perfectly innocent communication can be misused to victimize and torment its originator. 

Cyberbullies remain anonymous or masquerade as someone else. They attack at any time of day or night and from any place in the world. Victims often find themselves alone in the fight as others steer clear to avoid becoming targets, too. This gives the advantage to the cyberbully and makes it harder to stop the malicious activity. 

To better understand and combat online abuse and hate, it is helpful to dispel common misconceptions about cyberbullying.   

  1. Cyberbullying is less harmful than traditional bullying. 

False. Traditional bullying can be damaging and lead to physical altercations. But the  persistent and pervasive nature of cyberbullying can fuel deep emotional and physical problems that even lead, in some cases, to suicide. The real problem with cyberbullying is the persistent relationship between the victim and the digital media source of the abuse. A cyberbully take advantage of this relationship. 

  1. Victims of cyberbullying show signs of emotional abuse early. 

False. With younger victims, often there are no obvious signs of abuse until the bullying problem becomes overwhelming and dangerous. Victims, embarrassed by the content a cyberbully focuses on or spreads, may make every effort to hide it from those who care about them.  

  1. A parent can tell if a child is being cyberbullied.  

False. Not only is this not true, but a parent may be the last to know. Children and young adults are experts when it comes to hiding emotional distress. They go great lengths to hide their pain from parents and other authority figures, particularly in the early stages of the abuse.  

  1. Cyberbullying usually unfolds in one form. 

False. Cyberbullying takes many shapes, including the following: 

  • Using text messaging to harass a victim: Bullies often work as a gang to identify a target and then send hundreds of messages filled with vulgarities and personal insults. The goal is to overwhelm a victim by the sheer number of attacks. These bullies may magnify this by posting rumors—meant to cause as much emotional distress as possible—on social media platforms.  
  • Falsely reporting a victim as a cyberbully: Many websites and chatrooms feature a button to notify moderators of a user who is causing harm to other people on the platforms. If they receive multiple reports over a short period of time, the systems are designed to automatically remove someone from their service. Bullies use this feature to kick innocent victims off social media networks. 
  • Identity theft: Bullies will steal the password to a social media account and then post inappropriate material in full view of parents, relatives and friends. Some cyberbullies post racist or sexual information specifically to embarrass. 
  • Trolling: Trolling is a term that has received widespread notoriety over the last few years. This practice involves sending a message aimed at eliciting an emotional response from the victim. These messages target ethnic, religious or social background. Most of these offenders, or Trolls, seek to overwhelm their victims and make them feel vulnerable and humiliated. This leads to feelings of hopelessness. It also leaves victims powerless to control emotional and social situations in their lives.  
  • Cyberstalking: An especially dangerous type of bullying, cyberstalking occurs when a perpetrator monitors a victim’s digital media presence to gather information on their personal life, whereabouts and behavior patterns. The information is used to blackmail, harass or solicit sex from a victim. This is additionally dangerous due to the close link between stalking and violence.  
  • Ostracism: A large group of friends can decide to purposefully ignore one member by failing to acknowledge phone calls, texts or online posts. This makes the victim feel isolated and embarrassed. 
  • Trickery: Trickery can take several forms. For example, someone can create a fake social media account to trick a victim into believing someone is romantically interested in them or to get the victim to trust them. Once the connection is achieved, victims might be lured into revealing personal information that could be used to blackmail or embarrass them.  
  1. Cyberbullies are evil and misguided. 

False. Cyberbullies, in most cases, appear well adjusted and socialize with others in a seemingly acceptable manner. This includes their interactions with parents, teachers, authority figures and even the parents of their victims. Who, then, becomes a cyberbully? The disconcerting answer is anyone. Context and situation, home environment, poor coping skills, past victimhood or a lack of supervision can all contribute to the emergence of a cyberbully. 

Cyberbullying is on a rapid rise, and we must take a stand now to prevent and eradicate this social disease. Tougher laws are needed to document and punish first-time and repeat offenders. More responsibility needs to reside with social media platforms. They must block and permanently remove offenders, both automatically and when reported. We also need to extend more authority to law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating and prosecuting offenders.  

Lastly, everyone must be involved: parents, teachers, friends, other family members. The cost of inaction will be the loss of those most vulnerable. If you know or suspect someone is being cyberbullied, act now. Tomorrow might be too late.  

UMGC Grad Student, UMBC Alum, Team Up on Winning University System of Maryland Public Health Multimedia Challenge

“3 W’s” Video Is One of Six Creative Multimedia Presentations on Staying Safe, Healthy while Waiting for COVID Vaccination Recognized by USM Task Force and Corporate Sponsors

The duo of University of Maryland Global Campus graduate student Cory Wilkerson and collaborator Stephen Brouillette, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County alumnus, is one of six winning teams announced today by the University System of Maryland (USM) COVID Research & Innovation Task Force as part of its Public Health Challenge, undertaken with the generous support of several local organizations.Continue Reading

USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman and System Presidents Join in Effort to Promote COVID-19 Vaccinations Across Maryland

Effort Includes Joint Statement, Video PSA and Stepped-Up Campus Advocacy Activities

Baltimore, Md. (Feb. 3, 2021) – University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor Jay A. Perman and presidents of the system’s 12 universities have joined together in a special promotional effort to encourage COVID-19 vaccinations across Maryland. This multimedia campaign—designed to dovetail with state activities to promote the safety and efficacy of vaccines, especially in communities with vaccine hesitancy—will also highlight the many ways USM faculty, staff, and students are contributing to fight the pandemic.Continue Reading

2021 DoDEA Teacher of the Year

UMGC alumna Lachanda Garrison, who grew up attending DoDEA schools, wins high praise from the organization that inspired her to teach.

Lachanda Garrison ‘03 is a firm believer in the Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) mission to “educate, engage and empower military-connected students to succeed in a dynamic world.” She should know. As the daughter of a U.S. Marine, she grew up in Okinawa, Japan, where she attended DoDEA schools and ultimately graduated from Kubasaki High School.

Today, she is the one at the front of the classroom teaching children of military personnel who are stationed abroad, and she has made her mark on the institution that helped mold her own mind. This year, she is being honored for her work with the 2021 DoDEA Teacher of the Year Award.Continue Reading