Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in Connecticut

“Unfortunately, we need to do all we reasonably can to prevent, deter, detect and – if necessary – respond to a cyberattack. Just as we are taking proactive steps to harden our critical infrastructure and the shoreline to defend against severe weather events, so too must we be prepared to defend against the potential disruption that cyber intrusions can cause to vital services such as energy, water, and telecommunications.”

-Connecticut governor Dannel P. Malloy in a 2014 statement released by the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

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Syracuse University's College of Engineering and Computer Science offers a Master of Science in Cybersecurity program delivered online. The program prepares students with the necessary foundations for the design and development of assured, secure computer systems in order to predict, prevent, and respond to cyber attacks. Bachelor's degree is required. Request Information.

Recent hacks of big-name companies such as Target, Charles Schwab, and insurance giant Anthem have put cybersecurity in the national spotlight. In Connecticut, state regulators have recently tackled the issue of putting better cybersecurity measures into place to protect Connecticut utility systems, including water, gas, and electricity networks. Cyber threats to utility systems pose a massive, state-wide threat, as breaches of these systems could cut off state residents’ water, power and communication (Hartford Courant, 2016). A 2015 article by WTNH revealed that Connecticut cybersecurity analysts are also concerned that hackers are targeting cell phones, smart TVs, baby monitors, and in-car Bluetooth devices.

Here’s how the cybersecurity sphere in Connecticut has responded to these threats:

  • In 2013, the Connecticut Technology Council was founded, the state’s largest organization “dedicated to creating a world-class culture of innovation in Connecticut.” The organization aims to allow leaders the chance to network with other companies as well as provide technology transfer (Connecticut Technology Council).
  • In 2014, Governor Dannel P. Malloy released his first cybersecurity plan for Connecticut’s utilities, according to the state of Connecticut’s website.
  • In 2014, CyberSEED was launched in Connecticut, a cybersecurity conference hosted by the Comcast Center of Excellence for Security Innovation at the University of Connecticut. Bringing together experts in the field to discuss trends and formulate strategies, the conference also offers universities the opportunity to compete in mock cyber challenges to test students’ abilities.

Connecticut cybersecurity specialists have the opportunity to work for Connecticut-based companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, Connecticut United for Research Excellence, (a coalition dedicated to promoting public understanding of the benefits and methods of biomedical research), and Body Biolytics, (a tech start-up company focusing on applying field-proven activity monitoring software to the sport/fitness and health marketplace.)

As Connecticut responds to current cyber threats, the cybersecurity workforce has experienced an influx of jobs. According to Burning Glass Technologies, from 2010-2014 Connecticut’s cybersecurity job market grew by 98%. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2015 that information security analysts in the state make an average annual wage of $96,290. With a master’s degree, cyber security professionals have the opportunity to make a higher wage and step into senior positions in the state.

Earning a Cybersecurity Master’s Degree or Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Connecticut

The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) jointly offer designations for two classifications of schools that offer graduate degree programs:

  • CAE-CDE – National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (qualifying colleges and universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate certificates)
  • CAE-R – National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (schools that participate in research initiatives and that integrate a strong research component into the curriculum of bachelor’s and graduate programs)

University of Connecticut, Comcast Center of Excellence for Security Information is the one in-state school with a graduate program that holds the esteemed NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) designation, offering a Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering.

The NSA and DHS also recognize universities throughout the country that offer online cybersecurity graduate programs. Many professionals prefer the flexibility that comes with earning a degree through a distance learning program. Problem modules and threat simulations are completed online at the student’s pace, while most programs also allow students to interact with their peers and professors through discussion forums.

Master’s programs in cybersecurity are made up of approximately 30 credits, with 15 credits of core classes and 15 credits focusing on electives. IT professionals seeking more advanced graduate training may also choose to earn a post-bachelor’s certificate. Certificate programs are usually 15 credits long and can be completed in a year. These programs are also highly respected by employers, as they train students in current operating systems, programming languages, and trends in cybersecurity.

Standard Admissions Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Programs

Cybersecurity master’s programs require students to have an excellent educational history, a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as computer science or computer engineering, and prior knowledge of data structures and basic programming languages.

Minimum requirements include:

  • One year of calculus
  • One year of a mathematics course beyond calculus
  • A course in data structures
  • A course in Java or C++
  • A course in computer organization

If the applicant has less than a 3.0 GPA in bachelor’s coursework, the school may require GRE scores. Admissions departments require the following scores:

  • Verbal scores of 150 or higher
  • Quantitative scores of 155 or higher
  • Analytical scores of 650 or higher

Core Course, Electives and Program Objectives

NSA and DHS designated schools follow a standard curriculum. Core coursework will typically include:

  • Foundations of Information Security
  • Network and System Management
  • Cyber Forensics and Law
  • Applied Cryptography
  • Cloud Computing
  • Secure Systems Engineering

Elective topics may include:

  • Threat Intel and Management
  • Current Trends in Cybersecurity
  • Cyber Law and Terrorism
  • Cyber Wargame: Blue Force Operations

Graduates of a cybersecurity master’s program will be prepared to encounter the ever-changing threats to network and system security. Graduates will be well-versed in data structures, applied statistics, cloud computing, and programming. In addition, graduates will be prepared to architect secure systems and monitor security threats to those systems. Graduates will be able to provide threat intel and research and provide proactive defense strategies to their employers and clients.

Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Analysts and Specialists in Connecticut

Connecticut is home to many cutting-edge technology firms, but cybersecurity specialists in the state may work for a variety of industries. Master’s-prepared professionals may approach the job search with confidence, as the advanced skills acquired through a graduate program are highly respected by employers in the state.

The following job opportunities, sourced in May 2016, are not meant to provide any assurance of employment. They represent the kind of employment opportunities that may be available to cybersecurity specialists in Connecticut, and are shown for illustrative purposes only.

Cybersecurity Operations Center Engineer—Black Stratus in Stamford

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field at minimum; master’s preferred
  • 4 years of experience in the cybersecurity sector

Responsibilities:

  • Manage operational deployment and verification
  • Provide incident handling, including threat response and mitigation
  • Produce documentation of incidents and responses

Information Technology Risk & Controls Assurance—The Hartford in Hartford

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field at minimum; master’s preferred
  • Professional certification such as CISA or CISSP
  • 2-5 years of cybersecurity experience

Responsibilities:

  • Examine security processes and risks
  • Test controls to mitigate risks and make changes as necessary
  • Identify improvement opportunities as necessary
  • Document incident reports and threat response
  • Develop continuous auditing techniques

Senior Security Analyst—Gartner in Trumbull

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field at minimum; master’s preferred
  • 8 or more years in information security

Responsibilities:

  • Implement, administer, and maintain portfolio of security toolsets
  • Monitor and analyze daily security events
  • Investigate security events and take action as necessary
  • Participate in incident response activities

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