Cybersecurity: Combating computer crimes, protecting national security

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Tidewater_cybersecurityAs computer criminals become more adept at tampering with critical data in government agencies and businesses, cybersecurity has become one of the fastest growing career areas.

Tidewater Community College trains security professionals to recognize and prevent threats to information and information systems and to master techniques to combat computer crimes.

This year, TCC applied to become a National Security Agency Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education for Two-Year schools (NSA-CAE2Y).

Since its inception, TCC’s network security/cybersecurity curriculum has been aligned with the Committee on National Security Systems 4011 and 4012 standards. In addition, TCC’s curriculum aligns with National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education core knowledge units that cybersecurity professionals need to master.

TCC_cybersecurity_salaries“This is a big deal because it recognizes the maturity and strength of TCC’s innovative security program,” said Robert Guess, director of TCC’s Cyber Security Center. “It also recognizes that we are aligned with the cyber workforce requirements of the Navy, federal agencies and local employers.”

Credits you earn in TCC’s Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security can be applied to the Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology. Courses include Network Security Basics; Network Attacks, Computer Crimes, and Hacking; Network Communication Security; Internet Firewalls; Legal Topics in Network Security; and Incident Response and Computer Forensics.

TCC’s associate degree is transferable and offers students the opportunity to participate in competitions and extracurricular activities that sharpen skills and provide networking opportunities.

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Students who earn TCC’s associate degree may apply for the Federal Scholarships for Service program. Those admitted to a four-year NSA Center for Academic Excellence may be eligible to receive financial assistance with tuition, fees and books, plus a stipend, during their junior and senior years.

TCC is the official training partner of the region’s International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) chapter. TCC is also a long-standing member of the National CyberWatch Center, a national consortium of colleges and universities focused on cybersecurity education.

TCC cybersecurity classes are taught by well-qualified faculty members who hold master’s degrees in the field, are experienced, and possess relevant industry credentials.

Computer hacking is not a new phenomenon, and the technology to prevent crimes has improved, according to Guess. “Now it’s important to focus on the skills of the workforce, to ensure that data is protected from the inside out,” he said.

The job outlook for cybersecurity professionals is bright, with an 18 percent growth in jobs between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Our graduates are well-prepared to enter the region’s cyber workforce in support of critical national security needs,” Guess said. “And our industry partners are able to place qualified graduates in jobs that pay well.”

“Leap-frogging” into a great job: TCC student Tim DeBusk


Tim DeBusk, 24, came to Tidewater Community College with no experience in information technology.

Less than two years later, the Salem High School graduate holds a position as a systems analyst with a local firm.

“Most people start in a call center right out of school, but I leap-frogged and got really lucky with a great job. I’m learning a lot and the environment is great.”

DeBusk said he came to TCC for hands-on experience.

“I think community college is designed to offer more well-rounded and technical based instruction,” he said. “I’m just glad to finally be getting an adult paycheck.”

DeBusk is working toward his Career Studies Certificate in Cyber Security at TCC and plans to transfer to Old Dominion University to study information technology.

His dream job is to lead a network security team or to work for a U.S. government agency.

“My TCC experience has been all about devoted professors and great equipment, and has translated over to my job,” he said. “I’m certified in Security+ and working toward more industry credentials.”

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