USF partners with cybersecurity firm


With only a computer, a 17-year-old allegedly hacked into the Target database and stole credit card information from 110 million customers last December. The issue reared its head again when customers of Nieman Marcus and Michaels also had this information stolen. 

But cybersecurity, a new type of security being studied at USF, is attempting to protect virtual public and private infrastructure from the exploits of hackers.

In its latest step to combat the developing security threat, USF’s new cybersecurity initiative partnered with a (ISC)2, a Clearwater-based company.

(ISC)2 is a non-profit organization composed of certified information and software security professionals, and serves in 135 countries.

Hord Tipton, the executive director of (ISC)2, said the strategic partnership between his company and USF will promote a stronger cybersecurity workforce.

 “USF has been chosen because of its high quality of education,” he said. “We expect to graduate high quality and highly skilled professionals that the industry needs.”

Students can learn and network with experts and (ISC)2 professionals can be confident when hiring graduates they trained first hand, he said.

USF will offer a master’s program in cybersecurity starting fall of 2014.

Sri Sridharan, managing director of the cybersecurity initiative at USF, said graduates trained in the craft will enter a promising field.

“Everyone needs to be aware of cyber hacking and cyber fraud,” he said.

Last year, there were around 49,000 jobs in the cybersecurity field, but only 2,000 professionals had qualifications for the positions, he said. This gives professionals with a degree a significant advantage, he said.

Cybersecurity jobs have high-paying salaries that often reach six figures, he said.

Universities worldwide noticed and accommodated the emerging field, but Sridharan said his program will go a step further. 

“This will be very comprehensive,” he said. “It is not limited to just IT. The program cuts across various disciplines, including law, compliance, forensics, cryptography and psychology.”

The program at USF will offer four core courses and four different concentrations that include cybersecurity crime, intelligence, fundamentals of cybersecurity and information assurance. Tuition will be charged at a market rate of $900 per credit hour, compared to the regular in-state graduate course rate of $431.43 per credit hour.