The frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks continues to increase, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano told attendants at a recent cyber security conference in Washington, D.C.
Banks in the United States, for example, are “actively under attack” by cyber criminals, Napolitano said. Bank security systems are constantly being revamped and tested to prevent the attacks from succeeding, she said, adding that many of the attacks seek to steal information as well as money.
The situation with the banks – as well as cyber attacks on other businesses and government agencies - highlights the importance of cyber security as well as the need for professionals who are ready to tackle whatever technological challenges lie ahead.
To ensure that problems facing cyber security become a thing of the past, a group of technology companies have come together to form the Cyber Security Research Alliance (CSRA). A press release announced that Advanced Micro Devices, Honeywell, Intel Corporation, Lockheed Martin and RSA/EMC are the founding members of this private, nonprofit research consortium.
"The CSRA is organized to leverage expertise, from member companies and partners in government and academia," said Lee Holcomb, the CSRA's president and vice president of strategic initiatives for Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions. "Together we hope to create viable, game changing cyber security solutions."
In its beginning stages, the CSRA will focus on identifying and prioritizing what it and stakeholders consider to be the "grand challenges" in cyber security. At the same time, the consortium will track research and development (R&D) activities related to cyber security, as a focus will be on bridging the gap between government-funded R&D and solutions that are commercially available.
"Putting into practice the exciting cyber security innovations that emerge from research requires active partnerships between government and industry and also among private sector stakeholders," said Chuck Romine, the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Information Technology Laboratory. "The emergence of CSRA can strengthen both kinds of partnerships and we look forward to working with this new organization to promote a trustworthy cyberspace for our nation and its citizens."
If individuals have a desire to help improve the nation's cyber security, one of the best ways to do so is to earn a master’s degree in the subject. Several institutions offer graduate degrees in cyber security, including Florida Tech, where students can pursue a master’s degree in cyber security and information assurance.
In pursuing a degree in cyber security, students can not only help keep the nation safe, but also find a high-paying, in-demand career.
"If any student asked me what career would most assure 30 years of steady, well-paying employment I would respond, 'cyber security,'" Alec Ross, senior adviser for innovation at the State Department, told The Washington Post.