The New Generation of Cybersecurity Professionals
To meet the White House's Cyberspace Policy Review's demands, government research labs are expanding their cybersecurity employee base by some 30% every year, reports Ted Reed, a Stevens student graduating in 2011 with a B.S. Cybersecurity and M.S. in Computer Science. Ted is the recipient of an NSF Scholarship for Service (SFS) grant, which provides tuition reimbursement, a stipend, and federal internship for students in cybersecurity. After graduation, SFS Scholars are required to perform two years of federal service in defense of the U.S. information infrastructure.
"It is really a wonderful opportunity for students to see the operations of government, and it provides government with people they critically need," says Dr. Susanne Wetzel, Associate Professor of Computer Science. Federal service also nearly guarantees security clearance, a boon when moving into private industry or a consulting firm.
Ted has long had his eye on being a "national defender," and has been active on campus in developing a cybersecurity community for other students pursuing careers in information security. He is a co-founder of the Stevens Cyber Defense Team, an informal club that meets weekly to discuss security topics and prepare for cybersecurity competitions, in which Stevens students face off against international teams composed of professionals, college students, and even grade schoolers in security challenges. Although these competitions are important outlets for exploring cyber attack and defense scenarios, they also connect students with others in the field.
"Computer scientists are stereotyped as introverted and anti-social, but cybersecurity is highly competitive and social interaction is a job requirement," Ted says. "There's so much to learn and the technology advances so rapidly that it is necessary to cultivate friendships to share information and stay current."
Dr. Wetzel has also secured capacity-building SFS funds to install new technologies in the cybersecurity classroom and develop new curriculum modules incorporating multi-core GPU, which runs hundreds of processes in parallel to achieve significantly faster output.
"We have to give students access to the latest computing methods so that they are up-to-date when they graduate," Dr. Wetzel says. "The students will be challenged to discover how this new approach can help in cryptography."
"It is important to have a cybersecurity lab space, just like it is important for engineering and the other sciences to have their labs," says Ted. "As students, we have to be familiar with the most intimate details of systems. Exploring hands-on applications in the lab is a vital counterpart to the education in computer science theory we receive in the classroom."
As a Cybersecurity student at Stevens, Ted is on the cutting edge of theory and design of defense-ready networks and computer systems. Moving away from incremental improvement and digital "band-aids" that have defined computer security for years, Ted is of a new generation of computer scientists embedding security into the massive infrastructures that run our utilities, government information networks, and homeland security agencies. Such forward-thinking security planning is a hallmark of the research environment at The Innovation UniversityTM.
Stevens Cybersecurity graduates leave with the problem-solving skills and understanding of strategies that businesses and government increasingly require to function securely in a connected world. Exposure to the latest technologies and security theory ensures students graduate with a comprehensive perspective and can assimilate rapid developments and respond to novel circumstances to form effective security solutions.
As Ted puts it, "We can't look into the future, but we can look outside the box when developing cybersecurity plans."