The recent ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline that temporarily halted its distribution caused panic consumption by gas consumers. According to USA TODAY, the pipeline, which is the largest in the country, resumed operation after the company paid millions of dollars to hackers.
This is just one example of the vulnerability of U.S. companies to cyberattacks. Remote work and the boom in online shopping have also put pressure on companies to improve software security.
And while some of us may whimsically say that hackers could give us a credit score of 850 or eliminate student debt, identifying vulnerabilities and preventing cyberattacks is a serious national security issue.
This need has made cybersecurity one of the fastest growing professional trajectories. Locally, educators are training people to work in this expanding field.
Last fall, the Rochester Institute of Technology unveiled a Cybersecurity Bootcamp. The 15-week full-time course is a virtual simulation, completely online and modeled like a business. Students face real-world problems in the program and leave with the skills needed to find work in the industry and start working.
Justin Pelletier, director of RIT’s Cyber Range and Training Center, helped start the bootcamp. He said many students who attended the classes were changing careers due to the ongoing pandemic.
Justin Pelletier, pictured, leading the Rochester Institute of Technology, introduced a cybersecurity bootcamp. The 15-week full-time course is a virtual and completely online simulation. (Photo: Elizabeth Lamark / Special for Democracy and the Chronicle)
COVID-19 “resulted in a massive disruption in all industries. We have enrolled dozens of suddenly unemployed people who were displaced during the layoffs that happened last year,” Pelletier said.
To get into a hacker’s mind, students are introduced to “ethical piracy,” where they take on the role of an attacker to find and fix vulnerabilities before the “bad guys” can exploit them.
“Cognitive diversity benefits teams. And in creative tasks, it’s even more important,” Pelletier said. “We try to overcome unconventional thinkers (hackers, usually countercultural people) who think differently about design.”
The more diverse the RIT Cybersecurity Bootcamp team, the better its defenses against groups or individuals trying to make holes, probe, steal and do harmful things.
Bootcamp for deaf and hard of hearing students
RIT has also brought together the first Cybersecurity Bootcamp cohort with deafness or hearing impairment.
To expand the cognitive diversity of the starting field, the school collaborated with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, known as NTID / RIT, which is the only technology college in the world for deaf people. and with hearing problems.
Currently, in its flagship session, this cohort is led by Mark Jeremy, a professor in the Department of Information and Computer Studies at NTID / RIT, who teaches American Sign Language.
Jeremy, who is deaf, told me in a Zoom call played by Nicole R. Crouse-Dickerson (since her entire interview was conducted) that I was excited to be part of the cohort.
“As a faculty member who uses sign language and can communicate directly with students, it is a unique and very advantageous situation for participants.”
Mark Jeremy, Professor in the Department of Information and Computer Studies at NTID / RIT (Photo: Special for the Democrat and Chronicle)
He said there is a growing demand for individuals with cybersecurity knowledge and skills.
“They (entrepreneurs) also need individuals with different perspectives. Deaf and hard of hearing people have a perspective and a vision of things that can provide a different approach.”
Jeremy acknowledged that COVID-19 was a horrible time for all of us, but he unearthed the technology that was helping the deaf and hard of hearing community.
Deaf people who traditionally asked for restaurants through one-on-one video streaming systems were able to take advantage of untouched pickup and online orders that became major options last year.
And, as all of this happens virtually, there is an additional security concern. “It’s been a benefit for the cybersecurity industry,” he said.
The program helps locate all of its graduates, Jeremy noted.
“If a company hires one of our graduates in bootcamp, you will get a highly qualified person in cybersecurity and who has an idea of how you can improve your hiring process for several members of your company,” Jeremy said.
Digital tools have helped bridge the gaps, he said.
“While deaf people may not be able to speak English, today the technology is amazing,” Jeremy said. “Communications should not be a barrier for deaf and hard of hearing people, in any workplace. Deaf people can do anything but listen. If you are given the opportunity, you will be surprised by the motivation, work ethic and the ability to think outside the box. They contribute a lot to all jobs and some people may not realize it. “
Acquire skills that lead to professional careers
Tucker Drake, of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and formerly a real estate agent, graduated from one of the first RIT bootcamp cohorts. He recently started as a technical account manager at Thrive, a service provider managed by NextGen.
RIT’s bootcamp provided him with the skills needed to think about new technologies, how to work with them, and the tools to implement those practices, Drake said.
“All the situations offered to you through this course are steeped in real-world experiences, allowing you to conceptualize what’s going on in an information security program,” he said.
In this 100% remote boot camp, students attending from inside and outside the U.S. learn the basics of server administration and the basics for resolving security issues. They develop a network baseline and learn how the Internet works, helping them figure out the “why” of the tool.
Study at national level: RIT researchers will investigate deaf and hard of hearing women about reproductive health experiences
Graduates have also become recruiters in this field.
Tracy Doherty, formerly an automotive manager in North Carolina, is a graduate of Drake’s same cohort and is thriving.
“I found work before I finished the program,” he said.
His experience was practical, Doherty said. He now works for a network that places the talent of cybersecurity.
“I never thought I would start hiring, but here I am, and I love it,” Doherty said.
The program hosts a job fair near the end of each bootcamp to match employers with participants and a second fair for individual interviews.
If nothing comes of it, high school career centers help cohort graduates get a paid job.
Learn more about Cybersecurity Bootcamp at the following link: https://www.rit.edu/cybersecurity/cybersecurity-bootcamp.
Read or share this story: https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/2021/05/24/ntid-rit-cybersecurity-bootcamp-trains-deaf-hard-hearing-students/5145502001/