Online Cybersecurity Master’s Degree Available in Kentucky

In March 2016, it was reported that staff at Methodist Hospital in Hendersonville were forced to pay a ransom of $17,000 to restore electronic data systems after a ransomware attack. Malware that came into the hospital as an attachment to spam email held the hospital’s systems hostage until the specified amount was paid. Health care is not the only victim of cyber warfare in Kentucky, however. In 2013, the Kentucky Department of Education’s Infinite Campus information network was hit by a denial of service attack, making it impossible for parents to access personal educational data about their children.

To combat cyber attacks such as these, Kentucky’s Governor Steve Beshear signed cyber security measures into law in the state in April 2014. The legislation affected how data storage and customer confidentiality would be handled by companies in Kentucky that conduct business electronically. Protocols related to how long a business has to notify customers if there is a data breach and whether businesses must inform customers of criminal investigations related to these breaches were covered in these laws.

Another Kentucky legislator, Senator Rand Paul, announced in May 2016 his plans to become the first senator to block a pending judicial rule change that would let judges issue search warrants for remote access to computers located within any jurisdiction. This statement presents what seems to be a contradiction among Kentucky politicians, with one supporting cyber security measures in the state and another fighting federal government efforts to investigate computers to strengthen cyber security nationwide. These conflicting perspectives highlight key points in the rather complex debate related to cyber security in today’s changing technological landscape, not just in Kentucky but across the country.

Earning a Master’s Degree or Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity in Kentucky

Graduate students in Kentucky may choose from online and in-state master’s degree and graduate certificate programs in cybersecurity. Master’s programs in cybersecurity usually amount to 18 credits of core courses and 18 credits of electives. Graduate certificate programs consist of 12-15 credits, with two credits of electives.

Admissions Requirements

Graduate programs in cybersecurity typically require applicants to meet the following prerequisites:

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, mathematics or a related field with at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Good scores on the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Exam (GRE) (often waived for students with a 3.0 or higher GPA)
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic background
  • Completion of the following prerequisite courses:
    • Calculus (one year)
    • One mathematics course beyond calculus (examples include differential equations, discrete mathematics or linear algebra)
    • Discrete structures
    • Programming course ( C++ or Java)
    • Computer organization
    • Ethics and law
    • Design of operating systems

Some schools will offer undergraduate-level bridge courses to fulfill the mathematics and computer science requirements.

Program Objectives, Core Courses and Electives Found in Cybersecurity Master’s Programs

Graduates of a cybersecurity master’s degree or graduate certificate program are expected to be able to:

  • Analyze and evaluate an organization’s cyber security needs
  • Conduct a cyber security risk assessment
  • Implement cyber security solutions
  • Measure performance of cyber security systems and troubleshoot them
  • Identify key cyber security vendors
  • Design operational and strategic cyber security policies and strategies
  • Use cyber security, computer forensics and information assurance tools and software
  • Design and develop a security architecture for an organization

Graduate level cyber security programs typically include the following core courses:

  • Cyber security and risk management
  • Legal aspects and ethics in cyber security
  • Mobile computing and wireless computing
  • Ethical hacking
  • Disaster recovery
  • Cyber crime investigation
  • Malware analysis and defense
  • Computer security
  • Internet security
  • Assurance foundations
  • Design and analysis of algorithms
  • Principles of operating systems

Electives that may be offered in a graduate cyber security program may include:

  • Biometrics
  • Cyber warfare
  • Principles of communications networks
  • Global cyber capabilities and trends
  • Cryptography and data security

NSA and Homeland Security Designated Research and Education Institutions in Kentucky

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security offer designations specific to two classifications of schools that offer graduate programs in information security:

  • 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)

As of 2016, the following schools have met the rigorous criteria required to earn the NSA/DHS National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) designation for their post-bachelor’s certificate programs

Northern Kentucky University, Center for Information Security

  • Graduate Certificate in Corporate Information Security
  • Graduate Certificate in Secure Software Engineering

University of Louisville, Kentucky, Cyber Security Lab

  • Graduate Certificate in Network and Information Security

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

Once a cyber security professional has earned a graduate degree, professional certification of many types are available to help further specialize. Some of the titles and certifications available to master’s-educated cyber security professionals include (but are not limited to) Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Corporate Information Security Officer (CISO), Certified Banking Cybersecurity Manager (CBCM), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).

A 2015 report prepared by job market analytics company Burning Glass Technologies reports that from 2010-14, total job postings for cybersecurity positions in Kentucky have hit the roof, growing by an astounding 209 percent.

Fort Knox employs civilians and military personnel, as home to the United States Bullion Repository, the Army Human Resources Command, the Army Cadet Command, the Patton Museum, and the M1 Abrams Tank crewman training program. Accordingly, cyber security is a big concern at Fort Knox and therefore many jobs within the information assurance field are located there.

The following job listings (sourced in May 2016) reflect current job opportunities and offer insight into the numerous types of professional opportunities available to master’s-prepared cybersecurity graduates in Kentucky, but are not intended to imply any guarantee of employment:

Cyber Security Analyst, Integration Innovation, Inc. – Fort Knox, KY

Responsibilities:

  • Provide analytical support for development and submission of C&A documentation
  • Apply knowledge of technology in analyzing security implications of systems and applications security
  • Identify information protection needs and define system security requirements
  • Design system security architecture

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in information assurance/cyber security required, master’s degree preferred
  • Six years of experience (graduate degree may be substituted for some years of experience)
  • Ability to maintain Department of Defense Secret clearance

Cyber Security Analyst, SAIC- Fort Knox, KY

Responsibilities:

  • Maintain Army Assured Compliance Assessment System (ACAS) collection systems
  • Maintain SME-level knowledge of current and future ACAS, Security Center and Asset Publishing Service (APS) components
  • Provide SME-level support for SC Administrators
  • Facilitate delivery of HBSS Capability Manager tracking/artifacts/documentation to the HBSS Overarching Project Management/Team Lead

Requirements:

  • Master’s degree in Cyber Security, Computer Science, Information Systems, Engineering or a related technical discipline
  • Eight years of hands-on technical experience, with at least one year of experience in Information Assurance
  • Hold and maintain an active Department of Defense Security Clearance
  • Possess certifications in DOD 8570 IAM II, CompTIA Security+ certification (verbal and written)

Senior Architect-Information Security, General Electric- Louisville, KY

Responsibilities:

  • Lead in the selection of information technology security services, technologies and standards
  • Create a consistent communication rhythm for project planning, execution and status
  • Develop a multi-generation security awareness program
  • Establish a cyber intelligence program to keep business executives and leaders well informed of threat landscape

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Cyber Security, Computer Science, Computer System Engineering required, master’s degree preferred
  • Seven years of combined experience in IT security, infrastructure or applications
  • Five years of project management experience
  • Strong project management skills

Information Security Analyst, United Parcel Service, Inc. – Louisville, KY

Responsibilities:

  • Participate in security administration and service operations
  • Implementation of security software and firmware
  • Support continuity planning functions for systems and controls
  • Support internal clients

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, Mathematics or related field required; master’s degree preferred
  • Expert technical knowledge of hardware and software
  • Expert in TCP/IP
  • Advanced knowledge of Linux System Administration and Windows 2000

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