In the often dangerous world in which we live today, cybersecurity is too important to be taught only to computer science majors.
That’s the rationale behind TU’s new Cyber4All program, developed by Blair Taylor and Siddharth Kaza, both members of the Department of Computer and Information Sciences faculty. Brian Gorman from Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice, Mary Helen McSweeney-Feld from Department of Interprofessional Health Studies, Barin Nag from e-Business an Technology Management, and Mike McGuire from Computer and Information Sciences are also involved in the project.
“Cybersecurity education used to be limited to computer scientists,” Taylor explains. “We can’t afford to do that any longer—everybody must have access.”
To that end, she and Kaza proposed an interdisciplinary minor in cybersecurity available to any undergraduate, with special emphasis on the needs of information technology, business, healthcare management, and criminal justice majors.
“Towson definitely is taking the lead in this area,” Taylor said. “At this point, there are few, if any, programs like Cyber4All.”
“The timing was right,” Taylor added. “Dr. Kaza and I had sought NSF funding for an interdisciplinary cybersecurity minor several times in the past without success. That’s probably because we were ahead of the curve.”
Perhaps recent headline-grabbing cyberattacks on major corporations and the federal government played a role, she concedes, but this year the National Science Foundation (NSF) recognized the merit in TU’s proposal to expand cybersecurity education to all majors at the undergraduate level.
“Today’s mantra is ‘You must have a security mindset,’” she said. “That applies to just about every facet of life.”
Taylor said she and Kaza will create the Cyber4All curriculum by integrating cybersecurity content into existing undergraduate courses in the targeted areas. A typical minor consists of six courses or 18 credit hours.
“Technically, students could start taking courses in the minor next year, though it will take two years before it’s approved,” she said.
“Minors are approved at the institutional level,” she noted, “so we don’t anticipate any difficulty there.”
Receiving the two-year NSF award confirmed that she and Kaza were right about the need for undergraduate interdisciplinary cybersecurity education, said Taylor.
“Cybersecurity crosses all disciplines,” she added.