Cybersecurity Management and Why It Matters
Cybersecurity is commonly misunderstood. “Cybersecurity has been mischaracterized as a technical problem with a technical solution,” says Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Cybersecurity Management Tamara Schwartz. “At its heart, cybersecurity is a competitive strategic advantage problem. Like all strategic advantage problems, there is a technical aspect, but it is really a human rivalry problem. The program we have designed here at YCP is taking on the problem from that perspective.”
This unique approach is very different from programs offered at other colleges and universities. There is a high demand for individuals who can fill in the gap between business operations and the cybersecurity team. “Strategic advantage requires the ability to make tradeoffs, and right now the people who understand both the technical aspects of cybersecurity and the strategic advantage aspects of operations is very small,” says Schwartz. The program at the College is ahead of the curve in building this workforce.
“When I was young, there was no cybersecurity,” says Schwartz. She remembers her father bringing home a TI99—one of the earliest versions of a computer—and needing to hook it up to a tape recorder and a television set to make it work. She was one of the first students in her sorority to have a computer. She has been living the history of computers.
Schwartz came into cybersecurity when she served in the U.S. Air Force. She was handed a research and development portfolio and was tasked with figuring out whether they were investing in the technologies needed for enterprise networking—what makes all the mobile ad hoc networks work in remote areas. But, with increasing advancements in technology and opening up its use to the public, cyberspace has evolved as well into a playground for crime, espionage, and hybrid warfare. That’s where cybersecurity comes into play.
“At the essence of it, it’s about people. It’s about people and their rivalry for power,” says Schwartz. “Someone can knock out my computers and that’s inconvenient if it could shut down my business to a degree. But, if someone can come into my computer and pretend to be you and give me information from a trusted source, they can begin to manipulate how I make decisions.” That hack is constantly evolving as fast as new technologies evolve. Hackers are continually acquiring new knowledge daily and collaborating with other hackers on a regular basis. “The advantage belongs to those who continue to learn,” says Schwartz.
Senior Cybersecurity Management student Noah Morton is concerned about how fast new technologies are released to the public before they’ve had the chance to be sure they are secure. “I think we need to take a step back and secure things before releasing them to the public, even though it may slow down technology advancement. I think it’s better to be more secure than have the next fastest thing.”
Morton was given the opportunity to work with the National Security Agency (NSA) this past summer. Unfortunately, the pandemic canceled those plans. He was selected to be a summer intern after going through a very lengthy and strenuous background process. Though he did not get to participate this summer, Morton hopes to be selected for the opportunity in the summer of 2021 before he graduates in the fall. The application process is underway—a 2-month open period for eager students looking to apply. If selected, the applicant receives a conditional job offer with several more hoops to jump through in order to secure the internship. These next several steps include having to complete 50-100 pages of security forms, take a polygraph (lie-detector) test, thorough background check, and sit for several interviews.
The internship would give Morton the opportunity to further his experience in the real world with national security and cybersecurity learning opportunities. Morton says, “NSA is protecting the networks of the U.S. and they’re the top-of-the-line guys in creating new technologies to defend against other countries.” He also adds that there are additional benefits in joining the NSA besides defending our nation’s network infrastructure borders. “If I need more education in cybersecurity, they’re willing to pay for some of it or even all of it.” It’s what he’s passionate about and the opportunity would open the door to many future possibilities.
To those looking for advice who have recently started their college careers in the cyber realm or any other major, Morton says, “Keep working hard and don’t give up. Treat everything and every class as a new learning experience. You will face obstacles in college and after college. Don’t treat those obstacles as impossibilities or unfair requests, but as ways to further challenge yourself. Once you overcome that challenge, use those new skills and/or learning strategies to overcome the next challenge. I think overcoming anything is based on the ability to continually learn and adapt. The technical facts you learn in college will become outdated, your specific skill set will eventually need to be re-honed and updated, but your ability to learn will last forever.”