HCC breaks ground with new tech security degree
By Robert J. Terry
Date: January 08, 2004
Howard Community College wants to arm a future wave of information security professionals with the tools they will need to protect business networks.
The Columbia school is the first community college in Maryland to offer an information security degree program, according to state higher education officials. Administrators are working closely with Johns Hopkins University, the private sector and the National Security Agency to design and refine a curriculum that teaches the basics of network security, firewalls and Internet security and intrusion detection systems.
At many small- and mid-sized businesses, the network security administrator is also responsible for security -- and the threats have come in increasing number and with increasing levels of sophistication.
"Basically what we're looking at are a lot of changes in [information technology]," said Sharon Schmickley, who chairs Howard Community College's business and computer systems division. "It's been very volatile."
By schooling industry professionals and new students in security fundamentals "they have a framework to adjust to new threats that emerge," said Darren Lacey, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute.
Howard Community College administrators monitor hiring ratios in order to tailor its curriculum. And as certification-level tech employees began to drop as the economy plunged and firms scaled back their hiring plans, administrators saw information security emerge as an area in need of professionals.
Vinitha Nithianandam, a computer support and telecommunications technology professor, had 16 students in her fall Cisco networking and security class.
Howard Community College (howardcc.edu) is now one of 19 community colleges across the country to be a regional Cisco security training center. Ten instructors from other schools have taken classes at Howard and plan to launch their own programs once they're able to line up funding.
Cybercrime losses hit $200 billion to $500 billion per year and are growing 500 percent annually, federal government estimates show. Fortune 1,000 companies incurred $45 billion in trade and intellectual property losses traced to corporate espionage, according to recent research.
^macro[showdigestcomments;^uri;HCC breaks ground with new tech security degree]