“Cyber security is now a daily necessity of life. As we are seeing, cyber attackers and cyber hackers are almost everywhere.”
– Dr. Sengupta, assistant professor of the cyber security program at the University of Nevada, Reno (KTVN, 2016).
Nevada is no stranger to cyberattacks, both in the public and private sector. In fact, in 2012, Nevada’s state government was being hit with millions of daily attacks, which culminated in 155 monthly security incidents. However, over the next two years, Nevada’s Chief Information Officer (CIO) David Gustafson worked tirelessly with the state’s IT team to decrease the monthly security incidents. As a result, the number of incidents was reduced to just 30 per month for the period from 2012 to 2014, according to General Technology.
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Although Nevada’s cybersecurity task force has worked extremely hard over the past several years to increase security measures, there are still many unfilled occupational opportunities for cybersecurity professionals in the state. From 2010 to 2014, the number of jobs for cybersecurity experts in Nevada actually increased by 89%, paving the way for master’s-prepared professionals to step into senior roles within the information security field.
Here’s what else has happened in Nevada’s cybersecurity sphere:
- In 2014, Nevada received a $4.7 million DHS grant, used to address security vulnerabilities in the state and to develop a more secure cybersecurity plan for the future.
- In 2014, the University of Nevada-Reno created a cyber security center, staffing the center with computer science and engineering specialists as well as professionals in political science, business, journalism, and philosophy (RGJ, 2014).
- In 2016, the University of Nevada’s Cyber Security Center announced that it was expanding, as the program had recently received three federal grants.
- In 2016, the College of Southern Nevada received $150,000 in a STEM Workforce Challenge Grant that will be used to procure modern security tools and improve cybersecurity programs (Las Vegas Business Press, 2016).
Master’s-prepared cybersecurity professionals in Nevada may work in government, small companies, or corporate offices. Firms such as Bently Nevada Cyber Security Services, a cybersecurity firm that provides risk assessments, system hardening, and security recommendations to clients, often hire information security professionals. Another technological firm in Nevada, Vere Software, works with law enforcement agencies to manage their IT information in an accessible way, while Ghost Systems aims to use a new hardware/software approach to architect more secure systems.
Master’s-prepared cybersecurity specialists are well-trained in the diverse aspects of network security and data management, and will find no shortage of opportunities in Nevada’s public and private sectors.
Earning a Master’s Degree or Post-Bachelor’s Certificate in Cybersecurity in Nevada
Graduates of cybersecurity master’s programs will be able to architect secure systems, put firewalls and other secure systems in place, monitor and record security events, provide risk assessment and threat mitigation, and be able to manage and monitor the security of complex networks.
The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security offer designations specific to two classifications of schools that offer graduate programs in information security and cyber defense:
- CAE-CDE – National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (qualifying colleges and universities offering bachelor’s, master’s, and graduate certificates)
- CAE-R – National Center 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, Nevada was not home to any National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated schools offering cybersecurity master’s programs or post-bachelor certificates. However, the NSA and DHS recognize several universities throughout the country that offer online cybersecurity master’s programs. IT professionals enrolled in online programs cite the benefit of being able to complete credits while maintaining a full-time working schedule. The programs consist of filmed lectures, mock cyber threat mitigation and response drills, online problem modules, and group projects/discussions that take place in online forums.
Master’s programs through designated schools are generally made up of about 30 credits, with 15 credits of core classes and 15 credits focusing on electives.
Post-bachelor’s certificates are also offered online through accredited universities. The programs are 15 credits long and can be completed in about a year. Students will complete courses in network security and management, computer forensics, risk management, and cyber law and policies.
Standard Admissions Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Programs
In order to apply to a cybersecurity master’s program, students must be prepared with an excellent education history, high GRE/GMAT scores, and prior knowledge of basic programming languages and applied mathematics.
Minimum requirements typically include:
- Bachelor’s degree in a related discipline
- One year of calculus and one year of a mathematics course beyond calculus
- A course in data structures
- A course in Java or C++
- A course in computer organization
If the applicant has less than a 3.0 GPA in bachelor’s coursework, the school may require high GRE scores. In these instances, admissions departments look for the following scores:
- Verbal score of 150 or higher
- Quantitative score of 155 or higher
- Analytical score of 650 or higher
Core Courses and Electives
NSA and DHS designated universities follow a standard curriculum for cybersecurity programs.
Core coursework will typically include:
- Network Security and Management
- Cyber Policy and Ethics
- Risk Management Studies
- Computer Forensics
- Security Architecture and Design
Elective topics may include:
- Current Trends in Cyber Security
- Terrorism and Cyber Crime
- Cloud Computing
- Information Warfare
- Advanced Database Management
- Managing Emerging Technologies
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Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Analysts and Specialists in Nevada
With a cybersecurity job market that has increased 89% from 2010 to 2014, nearly all of Nevada’s major industries are prepared to hire master’s-prepared cybersecurity specialists. Working as information security analysts, cyber threat intelligence specialists, and cybersecurity engineers, master’s-prepared cybersecurity professionals have a diverse array of information security skills that are highly valued in the IT sector.
The following job opportunities, sourced in May 2016, are not meant to provide any assurance of employment. They represent the kind of employment opportunities available to cybersecurity specialists in Nevada, and are shown for illustrative purposes only.
Cyber Security Analyst—Kemtah, Las Vegas
- Bachelor’s degree in a related field at minimum; master’s preferred
- 4 years’ experience in the information security sector
- Monitors and identifies network intrusions
- Monitors and analyzes complex network systems
- Identifies malicious activity in a heterogeneous network environment
Cyber Security Analyst—Boecore in Fallon
- Bachelor’s degree in a related discipline at minimum; master’s preferred
- Six years’ experience in information security
- Monitors system activities and potential threats
- Performs analyses and conducts network vulnerability assessments
- Evaluates information systems and conducts vulnerability scanning
- Provides threat mitigation
Cyber Security Analyst—Sierra Nevada Corporation in Sparks
- Bachelor’s degree in a related field at minimum; master’s preferred
- 5 years’ experience in information security
- Performs analysis, intrusion detection, and malware scanning reports
- Isolates and contains IT system intrusions
- Coordinates incident response activities
- Coordinates remediation efforts