(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Although the word “hack” has been around since the 13th century, today many think of it as having something to do with gaining access to someone else’s computer — and not in a good way.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the Cybersecurity program at Texas State Technical College prepares its students to protect computer systems against cybercrime through practical, hands-on training.
“TSTC engages heavily with local business and industry partners to ensure its program instructors are teaching the skills students will need in the career field,” said Norma Colunga-Hernandez, TSTC’s Cybersecurity program statewide department chair. “The demand for Cybersecurity graduates expands into multiple industries such as education, finance, government, health care, manufacturing, and information technology, to name a few.”
TSTC Cybersecurity students learn how to configure network devices, perform security auditing, and plan a network infrastructure from the ground up. Students are trained to configure, troubleshoot and maintain computer systems, virtualized environments and secure network communications.
In addition, students learn how to analyze and recommend countermeasures, how to mitigate security threats, and how to develop scripts for automating configuration and management of system and access controls.”
Anthony Santos, a TSTC Cybersecurity instructor, said first-semester students are introduced to the foundational concepts and terms needed to understand communication networks in a cybersecurity environment.
“The students will examine personal computers and operating system software using hands-on labs,” Santos said. “(They) will learn about the roles of a personal computer within a network, providing services and user access to those services and other network resources. As for advanced students, they seek opportunities to elevate their skill set and are provided with new skills and competencies required for new or changing jobs in the workforce.”
“The class teaches about the infrastructure of an information technology company,” he said. “I learned about an attack called “bluejacking.” Bluejacking happens when unsolicited messages are sent over Bluetooth to devices with Bluetooth capabilities such as cell phones and laptop computers.”
Rist said that Cybersecurity Awareness Month is very important in this digital world.
“Your personal information always needs to be safe as new technology continues to emerge,” he said.
Santos said graduates of the program receive two additional recognitions: one at the state level from the Texas State Securities Board, and the other at the federal level from the Center of Academic Excellence.
“This represents that the graduate is trained with the skills required for an entry-level cybersecurity job,” he said. “The Center of Academic Excellence derives their skills list from recommendations suggested by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.”
Amy Hertel, a TSTC Cybersecurity instructor at the Marshall campus, stressed the importance of good passwords.
“Try to use a password manager that provides you with a way to remember all of your passwords while still keeping them safe,” she said.
Hertel said cyberattacks such as ransomware are commonplace.
“If your data is scrambled by a hacker, a backup ensures you can still access your files,” she said. “Otherwise, you could end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in ransom and still find your data to be gone.”
TSTC offers online training for its Cybersecurity program. Students can choose to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity, certificates in Cybersecurity, an advanced technology certificate in Digital Forensics Specialist, and several occupational skills achievement awards.
Congress declared October as Cybersecurity Awareness Month in 2004. To learn more, visit https://www.cisa.gov/cybersecurity-awareness-month.
For more information about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.