DeSales offers new cyber security track for computer science

By Ellen Cicchitti

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Cyber security is an area that is constantly evolving. It is hard to watch the news without seeing at least one computer security incident every couple of days. People are using technology to store others’ sensitive information in so many different types of domains, and attackers can try to take advantage of this proliferation of technology.

For those who want to learn how to safeguard their own information against attackers, they can enroll in the newest computer science track, cyber security. It focuses on the practical and theoretical aspects of the fast-growing cyber security sector. Students will study the preferred methods and security systems needed in the corporate IT world. They will also learn how to secure communication methods, establish custody of data, and securely transport and store data.

“This is a vastly growing field,” said Professor Annmarie Houck, the chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and an assistant professor of mathematics.

The track was approved late May 2018, and thus the information in the course catalog has been updated to offer the courses for this current fall semester. This track can now be promoted to prospective students, and the hope is that the inclusion of cyber security courses will increase enrollment numbers in the computer science major.

A few currently enrolled students have already switched over to the track.

“The computer science department is also getting the advice of Joe Walsh,” Houck said. “We’ll be using his expertise in cyber security and computer science.”

Joe Walsh is an instructor of computer science and criminal justice, and the Director of the Master of Arts in the Criminal Justice program. Advising will be conducted by Walsh and the other faculty of the computer science department.

While not exactly a joint effort between the criminal justice and computer science departments, a class on digital forensics is part of the track. One can obtain some core courses in other tracks, so controlled and free electives can be used in either criminal justice or computer science to satisfy the cyber security requirements.

“There’s a nice overlap,” Houck said. “A couple of the criminal justice courses can count toward both the digital forensics track and the cyber security track.”

In cyber security, students can take computer science classes which will teach them the basics of security and how to protect computer systems and networks.

“They will also learn how to test the effectiveness of security controls by trying to break into computer systems,” Walsh said. “They will also take criminal justice courses which will teach them how to conduct digital forensics to recover evidence from computer systems and mobile devices. Researchers estimate that there will be a shortage creating a need for two to three million people’s skills in cyber security. Students in this track will gain the skills necessary to compete for these positions.”

The cyber security track can also relate to Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS) program, which can count toward its graduate courses.

“Cyber security isn’t going anywhere,” Houck said. “Professor Walsh and I are very excited to see how the computer science major grows.”

More information regarding the course and its applications can be found on the DeSales University website.

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