Monday, July 15, 2024

Surge in Cyber Threats Fuels Demand for Cybersecurity Careers

Adjunct Professor Valentine-Rubalcava helps students with the programs in the new cybersecurity lab at SCCC.

PRESS RELEASE: SCCC, Newton, NJ: (March 26, 2024) – With more people working from home and growth in artificial intelligence and cyber-crime, cyber-attacks are on the rise, and so is the need for extensive cybersecurity. 

Cyber-crime in the United States increased 20% from 2022 to 2023. According to I.T. Governance USA’s research in January 2024, 336 publicly disclosed security incidents, constituting 7% of all global incidents, breached 78,215,855 records. This marked a decrease from December 2023, when 1.6 billion records were breached.

Some notable damaging 2023 cyber-attacks included:

  • A ransomware attack on Johnson Controls amounting to $51 million.
  • The theft of 10.6 million customer files from MGM Resorts.
  • A supply chain attack on Dollar Tree.
  • The crippling of D.P. World Australia.
  • Unauthorized access at pharmaceutical Wholesalers in PA Cencora
  • U.S. International Paper 

Additionally, hackers engaged in cyber espionage, infiltrating email accounts at numerous U.S. government sites, including those of the State and Commerce departments. 

Leading the charge against these attacks are technological advancements, cybersecurity education for students, and heightened recruitment of industry professionals. Emerging technologies are being implemented to enhance cybersecurity systems to combat these threats. While A.I. and machine learning pose challenges, they also hold promise for defense and can be leveraged to prevent cyber-attacks. 

Educational institutions such as Sussex County Community College (SCCC) are also playing a crucial role by offering specialized programs like as an associate degree in cybersecurity.

“Our cybersecurity program creates a foundation for individuals to be successful in an ever-changing discipline that is currently in high demand,” said Robert Reeber, assistant professor and program coordinator of Computer Information Systems at SCCC. “The combination of networking and cybersecurity courses with simulated and hands-on training using the latest security tools and techniques that prepare students for cybersecurity positions. Individuals will also be able to prepare for CompTIA certifications, which are the most respected worldwide.”

The cybersecurity program, initiated in 2023, currently offers three courses: Cybersecurity I, Ethical Hacking, and Cybersecurity II. SCCC has teamed with TestOut/CompTIA to teach and train students in cybersecurity, so students not only receive an associate degree but also gain three valuable cybersecurity certificates.

“All of our cybersecurity courses prepare students to take and pass CompTIA certification exams,” explained Michelle Valentine-Rubalcava, SCCC adjunct professor of computer science. “Certifications ensure employers that the new hire has the level of expertise in that field. 

Those with an associate degree in cybersecurity can make between $55K-$130K as web developers, security systems administrators, cyber data analysts, information security associates, penetration testers, computer support specialists, information and assurance engineers, cryptographers, cryptanalysts, and network support engineers.  

According to Valentine-Rubalcava’s research, there were more than 755K job openings in cybersecurity in February 2023. 

 “We have also designed a state-of-the-art lab for students to practice the techniques described in the TestOut platform,” she added. “This lab is equipped with new computers and virtual machines that offer students a realistic version of different operating systems. 

“With more people working from home, there is a greater risk of cyber-attacks in today’s digital landscape,” she said. 

Valentine-Rubalcava said, “The attacks cost the world $8 trillion in 2023 and are expected to cost $9.5 trillion in 2024.” 

“It is obvious that cybercrime is growing and will continue to grow,” said Valentine-Rubalcava. “There is a daily threat to corporations, governments, health institutions, schools, and individuals. When people you know get letters from their banks, credit card services, and other organizations apologizing for an information breach, it becomes a reality.” 

To learn more about the Cybersecurity program at SCCC, visit sussex.edu/academics. Registration for the Fall 2024 semester is open. To apply, visit sussex.edu/apply.