Homeland, cyber security potential programs

February 8, 2012

By Leticia Bodine | Ranger Reporter

NEW OPTIONS could be offered as degree plans as early as fall 2012 if the curriculum committee accepts the proposals.

Homeland security and cyber security are being proposed to start this fall after going before the curriculum committee, said Dr. Shawn Fouts, dean of career and technical education.

If the curriculum is approved, the criminal justice associate degree plan will include a homeland security option for students.

The computer information systems department is proposing a certificate in cyber security that will go right into an associate degree, either in networking or CIS.

Some of the cyber security classes would be incorporated into the homeland security program, but students would have to take a few more classes to get the cyber security certificate, Fouts said.

In addition, the cyber security program would prepare students to take industry certification courses.

“The new options are being added to existing degree plans with the goal of starting a homeland security program within the next couple years,” Fouts said.

“The criminal justice side appeals to new students out of high school and existing police officers.”

Students, the community and organizations that are mandated to secure their computer systems will benefit more from the CIS option, said CIS Department Chairwoman Carol Buse.

Even if students do not get hired as security experts, having the knowledge learned in the courses will allow students to be better employees, she said.

“It will be a good addition to the existing degree plan,” said Criminal Justice Director Toni Gray.

“The classes in the current associate degree plan are more theoretical. With the homeland security option, a more practical and contemporary side is taught.

“My police officers will understand the global structure. They already receive a lot of local and state information, so this will broaden their perspective.”

The homeland security classes would take place online and at the Law Enforcement Academy on the West Campus.

Cyber security classes would be on the Washington Street Campus and would be taught in a computer lab with the majority of the instruction as hands-on experience.

“Courses utilize hands-on labs and aid the student in preparing to take cyber security certification exams,” Buse said.

If the programs are approved, students will be able to enroll starting April 9.

“Initially, Sarah Uselding, assistant professor of criminal justic academic programs, will be developing these courses online,” Gray said.

“Two will be ready in the fall, and two will be ready in the spring.”

FBI reports that cyber-crime is passing terrorism as the No. 1 threat to the U.S.

“There are no physical borders to keep unwanted or unauthorized people out if your system is not secure,” Buse said.

“One of the worst risks is Facebook, and the potential for someone to lose some of the privacy to their identity can be just a click away.

“Anyone using social networking needs to be cautious about opening links in their messages or wall posts and keep their virus protection software current.”

Homeland security is becoming a big concern for the U.S., according to both Fouts and Gray.

Fouts and his department follow the Department of Labor Statistics at tracer2.com and thornberry.house.com, specifically for the 26 Panhandle counties.

“I believe that being prepared, educated and cognizant of national terrorism is the first step in protecting our community,” Gray said.

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