While the expansion of the internet has made everyday tasks like shopping and banking easier and more convenient, there is no denying that this growth has been accompanied by an increase in identity theft, data breaches and a wide range of cyber-related crimes. In fact, these types of computer crimes have been designated as a high priority by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and have increased the need for people trained to safeguard personal information, chase electronic trails and catch cyber criminals. This is exactly why Suffolk County Community College is launching a new Cybersecurity degree in the fall of 2017.

As a result of a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program, Suffolk’s new Cybersecurity Program will create pathways for students to earn an associate degree to enter the field or, if they choose, continue their studies at a four-year university. “This is a local, national and worldwide need,” says Peter Maritato, Academic Chair and Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Electrical Technology at Suffolk. “Our program will also allow current cybersecurity professionals to enhance their skills and knowledge through specific local and national certifications. The program even includes Cisco certified training and provides access to the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and the Cisco Security certification exams.”

The Cybersecurity Program currently has a high-tech cyber lab established on the Ammerman Campus in Selden. As the program expands, it will be housed in the College’s soon-to-be-built Renewable Energy and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood. “The initiatives within this facility will forge partnerships between industry, research institutes, business, government, schools and universities,” says Dr. Shaun L. McKay, Suffolk’s President. A wide range of industry partners – including Custom Computer Specialists, Inc.; Cisco Systems; Northwell Health; Brookhaven National Laboratory; Applied Visions, Inc.; Integris Security and more – have been engaged to provide input on the curriculum and the specific skills needed to become a successful cybersecurity technician.

In addition to the National Science Foundation grant, the program has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s TechHire initiative. This will provide support for 90 students to receive some cybersecurity training and 15 students to participate in paid internships with local employers.

Wide Range of Rewarding Jobs

The cybersecurity field is generating jobs at a very fast pace. With the number of related job postings up 74% over the past five years and a projected global shortfall of 1.5 million skilled workers by 2019, the overall cybersecurity market is expected to grow from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020 (Forbes).

Being skilled in computer forensics and network administration opens up career doors. Many cybersecurity experts work in the corporate world, focusing on the protection of social security and credit card information, financial transactions, and sensitive data. What’s more, The New York State Department of Financial Services alone expects to increase spending on cybersecurity by almost 80 percent over the next three years.

Students who complete the degree and certifications can expect to find employment in a broad range of industries, including financial, health care, IT, education – and essentially any organization that relies on the internet. These employees may be focused on upgrading computer networks and regulating data access, or responding to breaches and viruses.

In addition to being prolific, cybersecurity careers are also financially rewarding. In New York, cybersecurity professions are expected to grow 17 percent through 2024, with occupations ranging from Information Security Analysts ($107,680 median N.Y. salary) to Computer Network Architects ($108,980) and Computer Systems Engineers, earning an average salary of $88,610 annually.

For more about Suffolk’s Cybersecurity degree and certifications, simply call 631-451-4111 or visit sunysuffolk.edu/Enroll.

– Drew Fawcett

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