New Cybersecurity Minor Now Available

Students in Computer Science, Business, and Other Disciplines to Benefit

The idea for a cybersecurity program at Marist began in 2013 after the industry advisory board for the School of Computer Science and Mathematics was advised that there is a growing need for cybersecurity professionals. The dean, Dr. Roger Norton, conferred with the faculty about it and eventually, Dr. Casimer DeCusatis joined in on the project.

DeCusatis developed a three-course sequence of special topics courses that enabled students of any discipline to complete this minor. After review by several different departments throughout Marist, the cybersecurity program was unanimously approved by the Board in February 2016 and is now offered. 

In order to complete this minor, students must complete 23-course credits. The first three, Intro to Programming, Data Communications, and Internetworking are prerequisites for the first special topics course, Intro to Cybersecurity. Upon completing that course, students then have to complete two more technical electives in order to finalize their minor.

DeCusatis raved about the benefits that this minor will provide for students. “This program will prepare students to deal with aspects of cybersecurity that affect their personal and professional lives,” he said.

With the minor, students majoring in Computer Science or Information Technology will be able to develop secure solutions that protect vital data centers and cloud computing systems. “But this program goes beyond those majors,” DeCusatis continued.  “For example, Criminal Justice students are expected to take advantage of this program to study how cybersecurity impacts law enforcement and forensic analysis.  Pre-med and nursing students will need to deal with international heath care privacy and laws such as HIPPA, which require secure data processing and storage.  Business students can study the impact of security on financial transactions, including the requirements of enterprise computing legislations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Law.  Students in the school of science can study the impact of security on the emerging Internet of Things, including wearable technologies such as Fitbit.  There are examples of cybersecurity in practically every discipline offered at Marist, so we feel this program will have broad appeal. 

DeCusatis highlighted what makes the program unique from those offered at other schools. The first aspect is the hands-on approach, in which students can practice using real cybersecurity toolkits in a safe, cloud environment. The labs help to prepare students for careers in the field, using the same tools as the professionals, including open source tools and products like IBM AppScan. Each of the three technical electives has a virtual lab component. The second aspect is the emphasis on real world experience by including a “hack of the week” which presents a different cyber-attack to the students each week of the semester for each of the three elective courses.  These are attacks that have taken place within the past year, and expose students to practical issues related to ransomware, smart phone attacks, cyber warfare, defending personal information and identity, and many other topics. The third aspect is the close work with other programs such as the Hudson Valley CyberSecurity Center, The New York State Cloud Computing & Analytics Center, and other groups interested in building a more secure environment for everyone in New York State and beyond. “Our students have the opportunity to interview for paid internships in our research labs, working on leading edge security research programs for sponsors such as the National Science Foundation,” he said.

While many other colleges and universities offer degree programs or certifications in cybersecurity, Marist has been able to be on par with many of the top schools in this field. “We’ve also had feedback from some friends of the college, including a former SEAL team member with a strong military security background, who have praised this program, and our industry partners at IBM, Cisco, Ciena, Brocade, Morgan Stanley, and others have all spoken favorably about the new minor,” DeCusatis said.

DeCusatis encourages everyone to take an interest in the impact that cybersecurity has on their daily lives, to consider taking the new minor, and to learn more about cybersecurity at the upcoming Enterprise Computing Conference held at Marist on June 12-14.

For more information about the minor in cybersecurity, contact Dr. Casimer DeCusatis in Hancock 3039.


Written by Adriana Belmonte '17

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