Growing need for cybersecurity experts; La Crosse colleges launching cyber degree programs
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Since 2012, billions of personal accounts have been exposed due to cybercriminals. Businesses are hiring professionals to help protect personal data, but there aren’t enough of them.
Western Technical College is launching a new program this fall to help fill this need. Computers are complex machines with a lot of moving parts, most of them we can’t see.
Whether a person uses a computer for banking, email, social media or you owns a cellphone, personal information is out there.
Criminals are trying to see that data. Colleges are recognizing the need for more experts to protect it. Our lives are no longer as private as we think.
“Passwords and information can be captured by bad actors,” said Meredith Thomsen, graduate studies director at UW La Crosse.
While we go about our day criminals are hard at work trying to steal our personal data.
“A burglar would have to look for your information. It’s a lot easier to just find it online,” said Gary Brown, dean of business at Western Technical College.
Major companies have suffered this harsh truth.
Capital One had 106 million personal accounts breached, eBay – 145 – million, Equifax – 147 million, Marriott – 383 million, Yahoo – 3 billion. There have been several examples of personal data of customers exposed by hackers.
“The constant battle to protect the data,” Brown said.
This kind of crime has uncovered a need for more professionals in cybersecurity.
“We expect big growth in this job area,” Thomsen said. “I think it’s 13 percent nationwide over the next decade.”
A 2018 Cybersecurity Workforce Study shows nearly half a million cybersecurity professionals are needed in North America. With more than 3 million worldwide.
“We have had a networking program for many years here at Western,” Brown said.
Brown said the school is starting a new cybersecurity program this fall.
“We have created five new courses that are part of this new program,” Brown said.
UW La Crosse is waiting on Higher Learning Commissions approval on an online masters course.
“It’s offered in collaboration with a number of other UW System campuses.”
The programs are designed to teach entry-level and computer experts the tools to keep up with cybercriminals.
“Put a bunch of barriers between those people trying to break into the data and the actual data,” Brown said.
Brown said computer science students who graduate can make as much as $80,000 when they graduate. Some companies are offering signing bonuses for these specific areas of expertise.