When the coronavirus pandemic forced the world’s economy to move online, it gave hackers an influx of activity to work with.
Since March, the FBI’s Cyber Division says it has gone from receiving 1,000 cyberattack complaints a day to 4,000.
Miami Dade College is doing something to combat the issue. It’s offering a new bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity in January at the Wolfson and North campuses.
The pathway will provide students with critical thinking, analytical and technical skills to protect institutions—especially financial and medical ones—from the growing threat of cyberattacks.
Curriculum will include coursework in ethical hacking, information security management, network defense, penetration testing, computer forensics, risk management and ethics in cybersecurity.
“Because of the huge demand there is for a workforce, it was a natural transition to develop a four-year degree in order to prepare students for higher job opportunities,” said Antonio Delgado, MDC’s Dean of Engineering, Technology and Design.
Prior to admission into the program, students must obtain an associate’s degree or have completed at least 60 college credit hours from an accredited institution.
Applicants must also have taken cybersecurity fundamentals (CTS 1120), networking technologies (CTS 1134) and Linux+ (CTS 111) as prerequisites, as well as one of the following: introduction to secure scripting (CIS 1531), introduction to C++ programming (COP 1334) or introduction to python programming (COP 1047C).
The College worked closely with industry leaders such as Florida Power & Light, Mount Sinai Medical Center, Assurance Wireless and BankUnited for about three years to put the curriculum together.
Students are expected to finish the 120-credit program in four years. The estimated tuition cost is $15,586.80.
It’s the first bachelor’s degree program added by MDC since 2016. The College currently offers 22 bachelor’s programs.
“It was a really long process because [you] need to have a really strong community engagement and support from local industry, local companies and leaders,” Delgado said.
But the new bachelor’s degree program isn’t the only way that MDC has expanded its cybersecurity offerings.
The School of Engineering and Technology received three grants this summer from the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation—totaling more than $500,000—to strengthen the College’s cybersecurity curriculum and its cybersecurity pathway from high school to college.
As part of those grants, the school will offer summer training programs for Miami-Dade County public high school teachers and students interested in exploring the field.
The College also opened the Cybersecurity Center of the Americas, a facility designed to mimic a security operations center, in the fall of 2018. It’s located at Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. 2nd Ave., in Room 2103-06 and allows students to practice their cybersecurity skills.
It opened in the fall of 2018 and houses the Cyber Range, a state-of-the-art training platform that allows students and industry professionals to engage in simulations of real-world cyberattacks. At the center, students can also obtain hands-on experience in writing code and creating security programs. They can also attend forums and events about cybersecurity.
The Cyber Range is similar to a flight simulator, a professional virtual environment created to train cybersecurity professionals in the most real-world scenario possible.
“The computers and programs are similar to the ones that are used in the professional world,” said Jorge Ortega, the CyberSecurity Center director. “The key training platform is called the Cyber Range, which is able to simulate real-world cyberattacks and provide students with the critical hands-on skills needed to be a cybersecurity professional.”