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Algonquin College News

Plans moving forward on Algonquin College’s new Cyber Security program

July 13, 2020
From basement hackers holding vulnerable people for ransom, to more sophisticated and insidious attacks from foreign actors, it is critical to have strong lines of defence against increasing cyber threats. To help respond, Algonquin College is readying to launch its new graduate certificate program that will give students the skills to join this rapidly growing job market.

Ontario’s Ministry of Universities and Colleges recently granted Algonquin approval for the Cyber Security Analyst Graduate Certificate Program. The one-year (two-semester) program’s progress was slowed by the onset of COVID-19, but planning has continued throughout the pandemic.

“The program will be unique in Canada due to our emphasis on building a powerful and robust lab with state-of-the-art equipment that you would find in the industry. The students also have the opportunity to work on a highly specialized, industry-partnered project, and participate in an optional co-op placement with our partners in the cyber security community,” said Program Coordinator, Arsalan Parsaei.

The program comes at a time when the cyber security industry, both corporate and government operations, is in full-flight growth. According to Parsaei , the recent U.S. Bureau of Labour statistics (BLS) shows a median pay of $98,000 per year for cyber security analyst jobs.  Statistics from the CompTIA international research centre shows 100,000 jobs available in cyber security fields. Security analyst jobs grow much faster than average – with 29% annual growth continuing between 2016 and 2026.

 “Our focus is to offer dynamic curriculum that will be able to keep pace with changes to technology, leverage different sources of threat intel, analyze data, learn how to conduct threat hunting with use of artificial intelligence, identify different vulnerabilities, perform remediation, create effective responses to incidents, and most important, learn about recovery from incidents. Students will also get insight about compliance with government policy and regulation related to cyber security standards,” said Parsaei.

Renovations to lab space in Algonquin’s new stat-of-the-art DARE district are part of the ramp-up, giving the program full attack and defence team capabilities, using the high-end server to create real-life experiences for students. The lab will also incorporate SOC components (security operations centre).

“One of the core parts of the program is threat management. How to gather intelligence from different sources with help of artificial intelligence (AI) and then apply it to cyber security systems and using a robust vulnerability management program that takes it to next level - to identify and remediate vulnerabilities. This combined with cyber incident responses will help to detect and defend against cyber offences. There will also be a forensic analysis component allowing students to determine who is behind an incident… a hacker in a basement, a hacktivist group, a cyber terrorist gang or a state-sponsored attack,” said Parsaei.