UWSP to offer courses on cyber security

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- If you've ever had your email hacked or identity stolen, then you know how much it can disrupt your life.

Rogers believes cyber security will help him in his future job (WSAW Photo).

As we rely on technology more, it's more important than ever to protect your information. That’s why UW-Stevens Point will be offering a cyber security emphasis next fall.

If you use the internet, shop at a store or visit the doctor, you're leaving behind information. Now, students at UWSP could one day be in charge of protecting it.

"I think any kind of industry, whether it's manufacturing, agriculture, healthcare, there's the potential that somebody might compromise those systems," said Tomi Heimonen, assistant professor in Computing and New Media Technologies, and academic director of online collaborative Masters program in cyber security.

Reese Rogers is a student at UWSP, studying computer science and interested in cyber security-

"The whole hoodie in a dark room tapping on a keyboard saying, 'I'm in,' it's not really what we do," Rogers said.

In reality, it's practical to know how to build a safe website or database, and then keep the information stored within it safe.

"It is your fence. It is your wall that makes up your house or your home. If you ignore that, you can build a structurally sound house, but it's not going to be comfortable, and it's certainly not going to be secure," he said.

Students at UWSP will not only learn how to help you protect your information, but also how to help companies store information securely and avoid hacking. Rogers says company employees can easily make the mistake of giving up passwords and information to hackers, and there’s a large market for selling that information.

"Investigate what happened, so how did this attack happen, who are the perpetrators and how can we learn from this to avoid these sorts of attacks," Heimonen said, explaining what students would be able to do.

Students could also go on to work with law enforcement, investigating data breaches.

"You're finding evidence, trying to find the process by which someone was able to hack into your system," said Heimonen.

Rogers says security will be critical knowledge in his future job. Right now, he’s using those skills as an associate security analyst with Sentry.

"It's changing every day. We have different attack vectors, and different ways we can be swindled, pretty much," said Rogers.

Professor Heimonen says students taking those classes next fall will help fill more than 5 thousand open jobs in the field of cyber security-right here in Wisconsin.