Western Nevada College receives grant to launch cyber security program | NevadaAppeal.com

Western Nevada College receives grant to launch cyber security program

Western Nevada College

Instructor Dave Riske teaches a Computer Information Technology class at Western Nevada College on Sept. 27 in Carson City.

More and more corporations, individuals and governments are experiencing cyberattacks worldwide. Computer hackers are breaching information systems, computer networks, infrastructures and personal computer devices to steal personal information and data for monetary gain.

Anthem, Equifax, Home Depot and Target are just some of the corporations and agencies that have been violated by these hackers in recent years, compromising consumers' Social Security, driver's license and credit card numbers, as well as other personal information such as birthdates and addresses.

More than ever there's a need for businesses to protect their customers. Consequently, that protection comes from information and technology students trained in cyber security.

Western Nevada College will be able to fill that need in Northern Nevada with plans to launch a cyber security program.

"As we become more technologically bound, securing and defending the critical infrastructure of IT becomes of primary significance," said Dave Riske, a Computer Information Technology/CISCO Technology/IS instructor at WNC. "Western Nevada College IT Advisory Board members have identified the need for instilling a security mindset in technical employees. Board members have expressed concerns from businesses throughout Nevada."

Riske has been instrumental in proposing the creation of the program through funding from the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology. OSIT funding will allow students to gain more skills and knowledge than they would through seminars.

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"The goal of this project is to prepare IT professionals for applied security positions able to effect change in their networked computer environment and services," Riske said. "Current training opportunities in the Northern Nevada area for these skills rely on 'bootcamp'-style training seminars provided by commercial organizations. These training camps are often far more expensive than a college course and focus primarily on certification and less on acquisition of skills and knowledge.

"By offering industry-sanctioned curriculum leading to industry certifications recognized by the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense, as well as meeting the Committee on National Security Systems training standards, WNC will be providing a vital training opportunity to today's IT workforce."

According to Nevada Governor's Office of Science, Innovation and Technology Director Brian Mitchell, "The need for cybersecurity professionals is growing in Nevada, both in state government and in the private sector. In Nevada, the projected growth rate in the number of jobs requiring cybersecurity skills through 2022 is 30 percent. These jobs have an average wage of about $85,000."

The OSIT Grant enables WNC to become an EC-Council Academic training partner, allowing the college to offer certification courses for Certified Network Defender, Certified Ethical Hacker and Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator, extending the current WNC degree track. EC-Council certifications are known and respected worldwide.

"This makes them an ideal partner, providing reputation, longevity, currency and relevance in the Cyber Security/Information Assurance field," Riske said. "The EC-Council Academic model requires instructors be certified with each of the certifications being offered as well as being a Certified EC-Council Instructor (or equivalent)."

Students who complete this proposed program will be prepared to work in the industry as computer user support specialists, computer network support specialists and computer repairers, all identified as priority STEM occupations.

Currently WNC offers Information Technology training leading to IT industry certification opportunities with Cisco, Microsoft, Comp-TIA, TestOut, Linux Professional Institute and the Project Management Institute, many of which are on the Nevada Eligible Industry Credentialing List as provided by Office of Workforce Innovation for a New Nevada. These certification opportunities prepare students to demonstrate competence in numerous technical areas. These existing courses and certification programs will provide the foundational background to ensure students are prepared for advanced certifications in CS/IA.

Individuals interesting in studying cyber security, may contact Riske at 775-445-3255 or dave.riske@wnc.edu.