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The University of Central Florida Launches Cyber Security and Privacy Master's Degree as Nation Faces Urgent Workforce Shortage

·2 min read

ORLANDO, May 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The recent ransomware attack that crippled the Colonial Pipeline has called attention to the impact and cost of cyber breaches, and it illustrates the nation's critical need for cyber security and defense professionals.

In 2019, UCF opened the Lockheed Martin Cyber Innovation Lab, a collaborative learning hub and classroom space for cybersecurity students.
In 2019, UCF opened the Lockheed Martin Cyber Innovation Lab, a collaborative learning hub and classroom space for cybersecurity students.

Beginning this fall, a new master's degree in cyber security and privacy designed to train professionals who can protect and defend computer systems, networks and organizations from costly cyberattacks will launch at the University of Central Florida.

"We live in a dangerous world and cyberattacks are increasing," says Yan Solihin, computer science professor at UCF. "Hackers are looking at all of the infrastructure we have and will keep probing for vulnerabilities that often are found in organizations that do not have enough trained professionals to provide oversight, protection and defense measures."

Cyberattacks and data breaches cost the U.S. economy more than $110 billion annually, while thousands of cyber defense jobs remain unfilled. In Florida alone, more than 21,000 cybersecurity jobs are currently available. Nationally, cyber jobs — such as information security analysts — are expected to grow 31% in 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the average salary is $103,190.

Solihin said with this new degree, UCF will help produce talent with the skills to fill these critical jobs.

UCF's degree will be offered in a technical track that covers hardware, software, program security, network security, and more; and an interdisciplinary track that offers a broader view that includes the human aspects of cyberattacks such as psychology, regulation and policy, management and more.

Outside the classroom, students will have opportunities to engage in research in UCF's Cyber Security and Privacy Cluster and compete in cybersecurity competitions. UCF last month won its fourth National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition championship.

This new degree builds on UCF's established national reputation in cyber security research and education. UCF is designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Research and in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency, and recently was awarded $2.9 million in scholarship funding by the National Science Foundation to help train the next generation of cyber defenders. Industry partners also have recognized UCF's strength in cyber security education. Lockheed Martin in 2019 gave $1.5 million to UCF to help build and equip a lab for students to collaborate and study cyber defense, offense and security topics.

Heather Smith

(PRNewsfoto/University of Central Florida)
(PRNewsfoto/University of Central Florida)

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SOURCE University of Central Florida