Cyber terrorists and hackers beware: Oklahoma’s line of defense is impressive, thanks to the Oklahoma Cyber Command Security Operations Center. A team of cybersecurity analysts and network specialists pore over the activity of nearly 30,000 state computers, looking for signs of trouble. Just last August, Oklahoma’s cybersecurity professionals identified a foreign hacker who was trying to infiltrate the state network to obtain sensitive information on its taxpayers.
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Mark Gower, the command center’s chief of security, works with his team to identity, isolate, and neutralize such threats. According to Gower, at any time, 56 percent of the state’s computer assets are under attack. While software, firewalls, and security programs are able to automatically thwart thousands of attacks every day, Gower said his team must inspect and analyze about 130 unique incidents a day.
Employees designed and built the state’s computer system themselves. It is now considered one of the most advanced state computer security systems in the nation, prompting visits from the FBI, Homeland Security, and officials from several states. Oklahoma has consolidated its state computer operations under the umbrella of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, which has saved the state more than $2 million over the past six years and greatly improved security.
The system funnels data through the command center, alerting cybersecurity employees and providing them with real time intelligence.
Outside of state government, Oklahoma’s cybersecurity efforts remain strong. For example, Oklahoma State University’s 2016 Cybersecurity Conference assembled cybersecurity experts from companies like Devon Energy, Cisco Systems, Cox Communications, American Fidelity, and MidFirst Bank, all located in Oklahoma City.
Employers in the healthcare, finance, government, retail, and energy industries demand professionals with advanced education, experience, and leadership abilities to take on some of the most progressive roles in cybersecurity engineering, analytics, architecture, and advising.
Earning a Master’s Degree or Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity in Oklahoma
Master’s degrees in cybersecurity prepare students to design and protect secure systems and to detect and mitigate potential threats.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA) joined efforts to create the National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) program, which recognizes institutions offering cybersecurity programs that meet rigorous curriculum standards.
CAE programs at the graduate level may receive one or more of the following designations:
- 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)
The CAE program includes institutions that offer either/both campus-based and distance-based programs. The large number of CAE-designated institutions offering online cybersecurity master’s degrees has made pursuing a CAE program easier and more convenient than ever before.
Online programs in cybersecurity allow students to complete most or all of the degree requirements via an online delivery method, which is ideal for students in states like Oklahoma, where just a few campus-based programs exist.
Standard Admission Requirements for Cybersecurity Master’s Programs
Admission into a master’s degree in cybersecurity can be a competitive process, requiring candidates to possess the following for consideration:
- Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in a related field of study (e.g., computer science, computer engineering, etc.)
- Minimum undergraduate GPA (usually a 3.0 or higher)
- Completion of specific undergraduate courses, including:
- Linear algebra or discrete mathematics
- Programming (C++ or Java)
- Data structures
- Computer organization
- Resume detailing related experience
Candidates that do not possess a strong undergraduate GPA or related work experience may be required to submit GRE scores.
Core Courses and Electives
Core courses in a cybersecurity master’s degree program consist of about 15 credits and include study in:
- Foundations of cybersecurity
- Networking security
- Algorithm design and analysis
- Principles of operating systems
- Secure information systems
Program electives allow students to choose a specific area of interest, such as:
- Cyber intelligence
- Professional and technical communication
- Information security and risk management
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NSA and DHS Designated Centers of Academic Excellence in Oklahoma
As of 2018, there are two schools in Oklahoma offering graduate programs that meets the rigorous criteria necessary to earn the NSA/DHS Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE):
Oklahoma State University, Center for Telecommunications and Network Security
University of Tulsa Tandy School of Computer Science
Opportunities Available to Master’s-Prepared Cybersecurity Analysts and Specialists in Oklahoma
A 2015 report by Burning Glass Technologies revealed that cybersecurity job postings in Oklahoma grew 196 percent between 2010 and 2014—much faster than states like California (75 percent), New York (104 percent), Florida (135 percent), and Texas (113 percent).
From finance and healthcare to retail and government, cybersecurity analysts, administrators, architects, and engineers alike have a host of professional opportunities in Oklahoma, as is evident from recent job posts.
The following job posts are not an assurance of employment or reflective of recent job offers; however, they do provide insight into the type of cybersecurity jobs available in Oklahoma:
Cyber Security Analyst, Diverse Lynx: Bartlesville
- Develops reports specifications of data requirements and provides analysis
- Supports the team in the preparation and submission of financial and progress reports
- Creates and prepares documentation, reporting, and metrics
- 3+ years of direct experience in data loss prevention
- 3+ years of direct experience in information security, incident management, or IT audit
Senior Cyber Security Analyst, Oaktree IT: Tulsa
- Analyzes a large volume of security event data from a variety of sources
- Conducts network forensics
- Performs follow-up analyses throughout the incident lifecycle
- Completes projects and tasks associated with secure monitoring, incident detection, and managing standard operating procedures for escalation
- Leads the development of cybersecurity analysis and provides operational insight to management of cyber threats
- Bachelor’s degree and at least 10 years of security experience
- Expert-level experience with Sourcefire IPS, Cisco ASA and Palo Alto firewalls, and endpoint protection technologies and forensic tools
Information Security Analyst, Institutional Shareholder Services: Norman
- Gains familiarization with, and performs administration for, ISS Security Tools and Technologies from Intel Security
- Performs operational activities
- Oversee instruction prevention systems, both network- and host-based
- Responsible for reporting and metrics
- 3-5 years of physical security and/or cybersecurity experience
- 4-7 years of experience with establishing and monitoring information security controls
- Relevant IT degree
- High-level of risk intelligence and security awareness