Cyber attacks—and their potential for chaos and worse—are now part of our everyday lives. The good news is that the University of Rhode Island is on the front-line of today’s cyber wars. Just ask recent URI grad Ryan Marcotte ’12, who should know. As an incident responder at one of the country’s leading private cyber security companies, he’s on that front-line every day.
Ryan graduated with a B.A. in philosophy in 2012, then returned last fall to enroll in the cyber security certificate program, which led him to an internship with Dell/SecureWorks. He now works there full time as an investigator who goes into an organization after it has experienced a cyber attack. It’s important work—and it’s about protecting regular people. That’s something Ryan never forgets.
The jobs are out there—more jobs than there are qualified people. Every day we see an article somewhere about a new kind of cyber attack, and we need smart people to help solve these problems.
“Although my clients are usually large enterprises, the people I’m really protecting are the average user or customer who have no say in how their private information is processed and stored,” Ryan says. “If I can prevent a data breach, or interrupt one in progress, I really am saving someone’s livelihood and dreams.”
It was Professor Victor Fay-Wolfe, a recognized expert in digital forensics, who laid the foundation for URI’s leadership in the field back in 2004 when the Department of Computer Science established its Digital Forensics Center. Since then, URI has hosted two national cyber security symposia (the third is/was May 2, 2013), attracted over $1 million in research grants, and created a growing program in cyber security instruction, including an undergraduate minor in Digital Forensics and Cyber Security, as well as two graduate certificates.
“We want to continue to grow our program,” says Professor Fay-Wolfe. “We ‘re developing new courses and eventually new degrees. The field is really taking off, and we are in a good position to be a leader.” And that’s what’s happening. In 2012, URI’s innovation and leadership in the field was confirmed when the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security named the University a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.
The goal of the URI Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center (DFCSC) is to support the public welfare of the state, the nation, and beyond through education, research, training, and service. An example—Professor Fay-Wolfe and his staff have consulted for and helped train the Rhode Island State Police, building the digital forensics computer lab where police investigate cyber evidence of crimes ranging from child pornography to financial fraud.
Professors Fay-Wolfe and Lisa DiPippo, whose expertise is in protecting computer networks, teamed up in 2011 to expand the Digital Forensics Center to include cyber security. Electrical Engineering Professors Yan Sun and Haibo He have worked with them on software detection programs, emergency response systems, the protection of the U.S. power grid—and the prevention of grid infiltration that could disrupt power across the country.
URI’s Center is a great resource for the ever-growing field of cyber security. “The jobs are out there—more jobs than there are qualified people,” says Professor DiPippo. “There is a big need. Every day we see an article somewhere about a new kind of cyber attack, and we need smart people to help solve these problems.”
Ryan Marcotte, speaking directly from the front-line, couldn’t agree more. “Security experts are in high demand right now and there is no end in sight for our growth. We are all participants in our digital world.”
Pictured: Annemarie Bernier, criminal justice major/digital forensics minor; Nicholas Karayev, computer science major/cybersecurity minor; Kasey Gesualdi, accounting major/digital forensics minor; Ryan Marcotte ’12, Digital Forensice Graduate Certificate program; Daniel Masterson, computer science major/Digital Forensics Graduate Certificate program; Brittany Siter, political science major/cybersecurity minor.