Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree in Alaska

In 2019, a risk index created by Cardconnect, using data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Complaint Center, ranked Alaska as the most vulnerable state to cybercrime. Although Alaska has one of the smallest populations of any state, its residents are the most at risk of falling victim to cybercrime (including credit card fraud, identity theft, data breaches and phishing scams).

This is just one of the reasons that cybersecurity is becoming more important in Alaska. Other reasons stem from Alaska’s popular oil and gas industries and the efforts taken on a daily basis to protect them. An article in 2018 reported that the trans-Alaskan pipeline experiences 22 million cyberattacks per day. Energy infrastructure is one of the most vulnerable industries to cyber hackers.

All of these risks to Alaska’s security are reasons that more and more people are looking into working within the cybersecurity field in Alaska. The first necessary goal to achieve if you want to work in cybersecurity in Alaska is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. Please read on to discover how you can get a bachelor’s degree and begin working in the exciting field of cybersecurity in Alaska.

Alaska’s Cybersecurity Laws

In 2018, a Massachusetts cybersecurity firm reported that Chinese hackers had infiltrated computers within Alaska’s chief industries and government. The hackers probed networks used by Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources, as well as internet service providers such as Alaska Communications Systems and Alaska Power and Telephone Company. Additionally, a cyberattack in 2018 on the national Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) affected over 100,000 Alaska households, in which their data was breached. Alaska’s Division of Public Assistance sent letters to 87,000 people – about 11.7 percent of the state’s population- in January 2019 to tell them that their data had been breached and may have been accessed by hackers in cyberattacks.  Following these incidents, Alaska began to tighten up its statewide cybersecurity measures.

Cybersecurity has recently become a legislative priority in Alaska, more so since the new governor, Mike Dunleavy, took office in 2018. The state’s Chief Information Security Officer, Shannon Lawson, noted that Alaska is in the midst of making unprecedented investments in cybersecurity tools from many different vendors. Under previous governor, Bill Walker, Alaska started a technology consolidation project. Lawson is striving to coordinate cybersecurity activities across different agencies statewide. He noted that there are 15 government agencies across the state, some of them with independently operated cyber operations centers.

The state’s Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management Planning Division now routinely conducts Cyber Security Vulnerability Assessments. These are designed to improve security of critical cyber infrastructure across Alaska in 18 Critical Infrastructure and Key Resource Sectors (CIKRS). Critical infrastructure sectors include systems, assets, functions and networks that are vital to the U.S. Key resources are public or privately controlled resources that are essential to minimal operation of the U.S. economy and government.

Critical Infrastructure Sectors include:

  • Chemical sector
  • Commercial facilities sector
  • Communications sector
  • Critical manufacturing sector
  • Dams sector
  • Defense industrial base sector
  • Emergency services sector
  • Energy sector
  • Financial services sector
  • Food and agriculture sector
  • Government facilities sector
  • Healthcare and public health sector
  • Information technology sector
  • Nuclear reactors, materials and waste sector
  • Transportation systems sector
  • Water and wastewater systems sector

Key resources include the resources involved with these systems, as well as core services that defend them.

Cyber security assessments are non-regulatory reviews of cyber security management practices within an organization, designed to build threat indicators, risk assessment, and prioritized recommendations. Alaska is doing much more of this now than ever before in order to be proactive about cybersecurity.

Alaska Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Holders Jobs

A bachelor’s degree is your first step towards landing a good cybersecurity job in Alaska. Examples of jobs in which a bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite include:

  • Information Security Specialist – US Department of Defense, Anchorage
  • Special Agent: Cybersecurity/Technology – Federal Bureau of Investigation, Skwentna
  • Mid-Level Cyber Security Specialist – Boeing, Elmendorf-Richardson AFB
  • Junior Information Security Specialist- AlaskaUSA, Anchorage
  • Information Technology/Security Specialist – Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Technology, Anchorage
  • Cyber Security Engineer- Goldbelt, Inc., Eielson AFB
  • Information Technology Specialist – Department of Energy, Anchorage
  • Information System Security/Compliance Analyst – TargetCW, Nikiski
  • Network and Security Specialist – LS Technologies, LLC, Anchorage

Titles of Cybersecurity Degrees in Alaska

There are few on-campus cybersecurity bachelor’s degree programs in Alaska, but online programs are available. Names of some of the degrees that are available include (but are not limited to):

  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Technologies Leadership
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Bachelor of Science in Cyber & Digital Forensics
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity & Digital Forensics
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Networks & Cybersecurity

Obtaining a Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree in Alaska

When you are searching for an Alaskan cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program, look for one that is housed in an institution that has been regionally accredited by an agency recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Some programs have been designated as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). While none of the CAE-CD programs are in Alaska, some are available online and noted below:

Programs in Alaska include:

Community & Technical College

3211 Providence Drive

Anchorage, AK 99508

Leesa Arnes, Contact

(907) 7786-6495; lmarnes@alaska.edu

As the choices for on-campus bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity programs in Alaska are few and far between, here are some online cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees for you to consider instead:

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

9000 Keystone Crossing, #800

Indianapolis, IN 46240

(844) PURDUE-G; (317) 208-5311

  • Regent University

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity (online)

Bachelor of Science in Cyber & Digital Forensics (online)

Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSOC)

Accredited as a CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2023

1000 Regent University Drive

Virginia Beach, VA 23464

Cheryl Beauchamp, Chair

(757) 352-4772; cherbea@regent.edu

Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) through 2021

RMU School of Informatics, Humanities and Social Sciences, Dept. of Computer & Information Systems

6001 University Blvd.

Moon Township, PA 15108

Peter Y. Wu, Ph.D., Department Head

(412) 397-3000; wu@rmu.edu   

Accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)

2500 N. River Rd.

Manchester, NH 03106

Bruce deGrazia, Director

(800) 931-7648   

  • University of Maryland Global Campus –

Bachelor of Science in Computer Networks & Cybersecurity (online)

Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Policy (online)

Bachelor of Science in Software Development & Security (online)

Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

Accredited as a CAE- Cyber Defense- Accredited through 2021

1616 McCormick Drive

Largo, MD 20774

Bruce deGrazia, Director

(855) 655-8682; bruce.degrazia@umgc.edu   

Coursework Within a Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Program

Most schools offering bachelor’s degrees in cybersecurity will require that you take courses such as:

  • Network Security
  • Application Security
  • Incident Response and Investigation
  • Computer Troubleshooting
  • Interconnecting Cisco Devices
  • Cloud Technologies
  • Linux System Administration

Alaska Cybersecurity Certifications

In addition to obtaining a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity in Alaska, you should also pursue certain professional certifications. The most commonly pursued certifications in Alaska are:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • CompTIA Security+
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
  • CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

Cybersecurity Workforce Job Outlook for Alaska

The Alaskan Occupational Forecast 2016 to 2026, by the State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Research and Analysis, shows that jobs for information security analysts (cybersecurity professionals) statewide are projected to increase by 6.3 percent during that ten-year period. This is another great reason to obtain your bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and get started working within this challenging profession!

Sources:

“Alaskan Occupational Forecast 2016 to 2026.” State of Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Research and Analysis. https://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/occfcst/.

CAE Institution Map. https://www.caecommunity.org/content/cae-institution-map.

Coble, Sarah. “Alaska named America’s riskiest state for cybercrime.” Info Security Group. https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/alaska-riskiest-state-for/.

“Cyber Security Vulnerability Assessment.” Alaska Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Planning Section. https://www.ready.alaska.gov/Plans/CSVA.

“Cybersecurity, consolidation mature in Alaska as new governor takes office.” State Scoop. https://statescoop.com/video/cybersecurity-consolidation-mature-in-alaska-as-new-governor-approaches/.

Goud, Naveen. “Cyber attack on DHSS affects 100,000 Alaskan households data.” Cybersecurity insiders. https://www.cybersecurity-insiders.com/cyber-attack-on-dhss-affects-100000-alaskan-households-data/.

Harball, Elizabeth. “The trans-Alaska pipeline fights off 22 million cyber attacks. Daily.” Alaska Public Media. 14 March 2018. Accessed 15 June 2020 at https://www.alaskapublic.org/2018/03/14/the-trans-alaska-pipeline-fights-off-22-million-cyber-attacks-daily/.

Mauer, Richard. “Cyber security firm says Chinese ‘state actors’ probed Alaska government and business networks.” KTUU.com. 16 Aug. 2018. Accessed 15 June 2020 at https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/Report-says-Chinese-state-actors-probed-Alaska-networks-491078101.html.

“National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) Designation Program Guidance.” https://www.iad.gov/NIETP/documents/Requirements/CAE-CD_Program_Guidance_2020.pdf.