eSecurityPlanet - UMass Masters Cyber Security Education

As threats mount, so does the need for improved cyber security education

By Sean Michael Kerner

While some security professionals are self-taught, there is also a need for educational institutions to deliver increasingly higher levels of security education. To that end, the University of Massachusetts (UMass) now offers an online program that enables students to get a master's of science degree in security studies, with a cyber security concentration.

The goal of the UMassOnline program is to educate students on security strategies that are appropriate for both the public and private sectors of the economy.

Dr. James Forest, professor and director of Security Studies at UMass Lowell, helps lead the security studies program at UMass and is a former director of Terrorism Studies at the United States Military Academy. The UMass program includes interdisciplinary components that provide additional context beyond just the technical elements of cyber security, he explained.

Forest said there is a need to train and educate the next generation of cyber security professionals with skills and tools that help bridge the gap between technical components and real-world organizations and use cases.

The degree is a partnership of sorts between different parts of UMass, including the departments of Computer Science, Behavioral Sciences and International Studies.

While regulatory compliance is often part of enterprise cyber security deployments, it's not a primary element in the UMass program. A few courses do touch on compliance issues, Forest said.

In his career, Forest has written extensively on the topic of terrorism and more physical forms of security. He now sees an intersection between terrorism and cyber security emerging.

"We are seeing a lot more terrorist use of the Internet in recent years, largely for clandestine operations and planning," he said. "The goal of terrorists is to compel a population to do something through fear and violence, so there are a number of things where the Internet fits in."

Date: 12/11/15