WITC has launched a new IT-cybersecurity specialist program.

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks and programs from digital attacks, and the demand for cybersecurity jobs is at an all-time high, according an announcement about the new program. 

“It’s second only to nursing. You can pretty much throw a dart at the map anywhere you want and get a pretty good job,” said Mike Miller, IT instructor at WITC. 

Daniel Schaff, a 2005 WITC graduate from the IT program, worked for global security software company McAfee for 13 years and is currently senior enterprise sales engineer for a next-gen cybersecurity technology company, Crowdstrike. Schaff says those who work in cybersecurity can eventually make salaries upwards of $100,000 per year, and there is a wide variety of positions in the field.

“If you have the skills for IT and want a job, this is the perfect occupation for you. The topic of cybersecurity is so broad that it’s easy to find a focus that interests you. Cybersecurity touches every aspect of our lives and the world we live in,” said Schaff.

Students will learn how to secure an organization’s desktops, servers, networks and applications to support a thriving business. 

“Cybersecurity is becoming an integral part of every business operations including retail, online, internet provider, education and healthcare,” said IT Instructor at WITC Greg Brodt. 

The two-year IT-Cybersecurity Specialist program will give students hand-on experience with networking, operation systems, virtualization and security. Students will build a strong IT base as they install and configure Windows and Linux environments and create networks for a business-like environment. Studying attacks and security practices will help students learn to protect data for businesses like formatting security settings. 

“Technology in the world today is there to help facilitate business, keep us in touch with friends and family and make our lives safer and better,” said Schaff. “Unfortunately, there are threat actors out there that for many reasons, want to disrupt how we use these technologies to connect and even worse, use them against us.”

Unfortunately, cyber-attacks are not isolated incidents and the number of attacks on businesses around the globe grows each year. Cybersecurity professionals are the ones on the front lines planning, implementing and recovering from these types of attacks every day.

Schaff says that only 10 to 15 years ago, cybersecurity was almost an afterthought when systems were deployed. The systems were often managed by administrators whose primary focus was not on protecting the networks and hosts, but to make sure the systems were working properly and that business could continue. Threats and actors in today’s world are much more technologically advanced and often well-funded. This means that organizations need to have a matured security plan implemented. 

“There has been an explosion in the types and ways attacks can happen and for each one of these, a business must assess if they are going to accept, transfer or remediate the risks,” said Schaff. “Organizations are realizing they truly know nothing about security with laws like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), they can no longer take the approach of sticking their head in the sand.”