Academics

Northland Launches New Degree Program in Cybersecurity

Program will help address the critical need for cybersecurity professionals nationwide.

Northland Computer & Network Technology Instructor, Don Campbell, instructs students in a computer networking class.

April 18, 2019 – Every day, hackers and cybercriminals launch new, sophisticated computer viruses, malware, and scams that threaten the data our society relies on. In fact, a February 2018 study from McAfee reports that hackers drain an estimated $600 billion annually from the global economy.

In this data-driven world, professionals with cybersecurity knowledge are an essential line of defense against cyber attacks. Recognizing this need, Northland Community & Technical College will launch a new associate of science degree in cybersecurity this fall. The new Cybersecurity Program will build upon skills gained in basic networking classes to teach students how to identify security targets, secure systems, develop policies and procedures, and educate users in order to prevent system breaches. “This program will allow graduates to be on the ground floor of this new and emerging field,” explains Northland computer instructor Mark Meuleners.

The shortage of people with knowledge in cybersecurity is dire. The current unemployment rate for professionals in this industry is speculated to be zero percent as businesses, educational, and government institutions across the spectrum recognize the extreme importance of protecting systems and data.
While general computer networking and maintenance could be centralized and outsourced cybersecurity cannot... companies need to have a direct relationship and trust in those designated to protect their assets.

“A simple network outage can result in millions of dollars of loss per hour,” states Computer & Network Technology Instructor Don Fischer. “The easiest way for an attacker to acquire information, which most people don’t consider, is from physical access. They can scope out passwords written on documents left exposed in a workspace or rifle through garbage to get enough information to use for nefarious purposes.”

Additionally, consumers don’t realize that many everyday devices have gateways that could allow hackers to infiltrate one’s personal space. Everything from smart TVs with voice control to wireless coffee pots can become a listening device. “Many of these things offer convenience and have a great intention,” explains Don Campbell, Computer & Network Technology Instructor, “use them as intended, be aware of them, and, if you are concerned about them listening to a private conversation, for example, you can unplug them or disable those wireless or tracing capabilities.”

This program will provide a base in networking, computer maintenance, and major operating systems in conjunction with a comprehensive selection of coursework in security, network defense, and ethical hacking. In addition, there will be an experiential learning component which will allow students to confront real-world situations in a virtual lab.

The future outlook for this profession is exceptional. “While general computer networking and maintenance could be centralized and outsourced cybersecurity cannot,” Campbell expresses, “Companies need to have a direct relationship and trust in those designated to protect their assets.”
The employment outlook is unlimited because there are not enough individuals who possess both the skills and trust required.

Graduates from the Cybersecurity Program will be prepared to immediately enter the computer technology field and work towards developing the necessary trust and relationships to ascend to a roll in cybersecurity. “Cybersecurity professionals need to be highly ethical individuals and to continually work to gain trust in their role. Once trust is established in this profession, the employment outlook is unlimited because there are not enough individuals who possess both the skills and trust required,” states Campbell.

Northland has begun accepting applicants for fall 2019 entry in the new IT Cybersecurity program. For more information on this program, visit northlandcollege.edu.

Northland Community and Technical College (Northland) is a comprehensive college with campuses in Thief River Falls, MN, and East Grand Forks, MN. Northland also has an aerospace site in Thief River Falls, MN, and a satellite site in Roseau, MN. Northland offers certificates, diplomas, transfer courses, two-year degrees (A.A.S., A.S., A.A.) in more than 80 areas of study, workforce training and education programs. Northland is a member of Minnesota State, the fourth-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Northland is an affirmative action, equal opportunity educator and employer. For more information about Northland Community & Technical College, visit www.northlandcollege.edu or call 1.800.959.6282.