Under Montana law, companies must report data and cyber breaches to the Montana Department of Justice, whether that breach resulted from hacking, criminal cyberattacks, or human error. In 2018, Pine Cove Consulting released a report analyzing the cybersecurity failures of Montana businesses in 2018 in preparation for improvements in 2019. They found that in 2018, there were 314 cyber breaches to Montana businesses, affecting almost 39 percent of Montanans (or 412,611 citizens). The average number of days between the beginning and the end of a cyber-breach was 82 days. The most common types of cyberattacks in Montana as of 2018 were ransomware, phishing, and malware.
Cybersecurity Is clearly a major concern, not just in Montana but all over the world. In order to work within the cybersecurity field, one needs to have a bachelor’s degree. There are many opportunities for trained, educated cybersecurity professionals throughout Montana, in both the public and private sectors. If you would like to learn how you can earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity in Montana and join this growing, necessary field, read on.
Cybersecurity in the News in Montana
Cybersecurity was recently in the news in Montana, but for negative reasons. The Helena City Commission recently conducted a regular meeting online via Zoom videoconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting was hacked into and disrupted by unknown persons who displayed pornographic images and played loud music. After the meeting abruptly ended 20 minutes later, City Manager Melinda Reed reconvened the meeting and noted that they could not change the security settings on Zoom to prevent further disruptions. This Zoom-bombing has become more prevalent during the pandemic, as hackers disrupt meetings in cybersecurity breaches.
The FBI recommends taking the following cybersecurity precautions when conducting Zoom meetings:
- Don’t make meetings public.
- Don’t share links to meetings on a publicly available, unrestricted social media post.
- Manage screen sharing options to “Host Only.”
- Make sure all users are using the most updated version of the software.
- Make sure teleworkers’ policies have been updated to address information security requirements and technical specifications.
Cybersecurity in Montana’s Governmental Structure
Montana’s Office of Security Services holds the responsibility of protecting all cyber assets of the state and security its cyber services to its citizens. Chief Information Security Officer Andy Hanks oversees two sections of the office: Incident Response and Technical Security, and Policy and Risk Management. October 2019 was deemed National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and Montana participated in nationwide awareness events under the direction of Governor Steve Bullock. Additionally, Montana has participated in the Montana Girls Cybersecurity Project, aimed at getting more females involved in cybersecurity; and Kids Safe Online Poster Contest.
Montana Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Pathway
Once you earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, you will become eligible for cybersecurity jobs in Montana such as:
- IT Specialist (Information Security) – US Department of Veterans Affairs, Helena
- IT Security Analyst II – Davidson Companies, Great Falls
- Security Specialist – US Department of Defense, Great Falls
- Security Specialist – US Air Force, Malmstrom AFB
- Cybersecurity Consultant – LMG Security, Missoula
- Networking/Cyber Security Non-Tenure Track Faculty- Montana State University, Bozeman
- Info Security Analyst – General Dynamics Information Technology, Malmstrom AFB
- Cybersecurity Data Protection & Analytics – Humana, Billings
- Information Security Analyst – Triplenet Technologies, Inc., Great Falls
- Incident Response Specialist – LMG Security, Missoula
Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Montana
The most important thing to remember when you are choosing a bachelor’s degree cybersecurity program in Montana is to make sure that the college or university in which the program is held is accredited by a regional accreditation agency that is listed in the directory of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) .
Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE)
The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a program to showcase the ultimate undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity degree programs in the country. This program is called National Centers of Academic Excellence.
Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education in Montana
There is one cybersecurity program in Montana that is designated as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD) under the National Centers for Academic Excellence:
- University of Montana (partnership with Missoula College and Excelsior College) – Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity (hybrid)
(Must have an AAS in IT-Network Administration & Security in order to qualify for this program)
Applied Computing & Engineering Technology
909 South Ave West
Missoula, MT 59801
CAE- Cyber Defense Education- Accredited through 2022
Other Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Montana
Another cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program in Montana is:
- Montana Tech – Bachelor of Science in Network Technology
Accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
1300 West Park Street
Butte, MT 59701
Required Courses in a CAE-CD Program in Montana
Under the National Centers for Academic Excellence program, all CAE-CD programs must include certain classes, called Knowledge Units. These are:
- Required Knowledge Units:
- Basic Cryptography
- Basic Networking
- Basic Scripting & Programming
- Cyber Threats
- Cybersecurity Foundations
- Cybersecurity Planning & Management
- Cybersecurity Principles
- Information Technology Systems Components
- Network Defense
- Operating Systems Concepts
- Policy, Legal, Ethics and Compliance
- Security Program Management
- Security Risk Analysis
- Optional Knowledge Units:
- Advanced Algorithms
- Advanced Cryptography
- Advanced Network Technology & Protocols
- Analog Telecommunications
- Basic Cyber Operations
- Cloud Computing
- Cyber Crime
- Cybersecurity Ethics
- Data Administration
- Data Structures
- Database Management Systems
- Device Forensics
- Digital Communications
- Digital Forensics
- Embedded Systems
- Forensic Accounting
- Formal Methods
- Fraud Prevention & Management
- Hardware Reverse Engineering
- Hardware/Firmware Security
- Host Forensics
- IA Architectures
- IA Compliance
- IA Standards
- Independent/Directed Study/Research
- Industrial Control Systems
- Introduction to Theory of Computation
- Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems
- Life Cycle Security
- Low Level Programming
- Media Forensics
- Mobile Technologies
- Network Forensics
- Network Security Administration
- Network Technology and Protocols
- Operating Systems Administration
- Operating Systems Hardening
- Operating Systems Theory
- Penetration Testing
- Quality Assurance/Functional Testing
- Radio Frequency Principles
- Secure Programming Practices
- Software Assurance
- Software Reverse Engineering
- Software Security Analysis
- Supply Chain Security
- Systems Certification and Accreditation
- Systems Programming
- Systems Security Engineering
- Virtualization Technologies
- Vulnerability Analysis
- Web Application Security
- Wireless Sensor Networks
Cybersecurity Certifications in Montana
Montana’s cybersecurity professionals also often hold specialty certifications, which can be obtained concurrent with or after earning a bachelor’s degree. These include, but are not limited to:
- CompTIA (A+, Network+, Security+, Linux+, Project+)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
Occupational Employment Outlook for Information Security Professionals in Montana
According to OJT.com, the information industry in Montana grew the fastest of all industries in the state from June 2016 to June 2017, at a rate of 3.2 percent, much higher than the national average. It is expected that jobs for information security analysts will continue to grow in Montana as the need for cybersecurity professionals increases throughout the next decade.
Ambarian, Jonathon. “Helena commission delays meeting after Zoom meeting is disrupted.” KRTV.com. 23 June 2020. Accessed 8 July 2020 at https://www.krtv.com/news/montana-and-regional-news/helena-commission-delays-meeting-after-zoom-meeting-is-disrupted.
CAE Institution Map. https://www.caecommunity.org/content/cae-institution-map.
“Governor Steve Bullock acknowledges October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.” Montana SITSD. https://cybersecurity.mt.gov/NCSAM.
Holyoak, Jace. “2018 MT cyber-security report: analyzing the failures of MT businesses in 2018 to prepare for 2019.” Pine Cove Consulting. 23 January 2019. Accessed 8 July 2020 at https://marketing.pinecc.com/blog/2018-mt-cyber-security-report-analyzing-the-failures-of-mt-businesses-in-2018-to-prepare-for-2019.
“Job Training in Montana.” OJT.com. https://ojt.com/states/montana/.
“National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) Designation Program Guidance.” https://www.iad.gov/NIETP/documents/Requirements/CAE-CD_Program_Guidance_2020.pdf.