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MSU Denver cybersecurity program expands with the help of a new grant

Program allows students to work through real-world cyber threats
msu cyber security.jpg
msu cyber security.jpg
Posted at 9:17 AM, Oct 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-03 11:17:32-04

DENVER — Metropolitan State University of Denver recently received a nearly $500,000 grant from the Colorado Attorney General to expand its cybersecurity program and train nearly 200 new security analysts over the next two years. It comes at a time when threats are on the rise.

Richard Mac Namee, the Director of the Cybersecurity Center at MSU Denver said students in the program are trained to prevent and respond to 36 different types of attacks, ranging from defacing websites to ransomware.

“What this really does as a program is allow them to get that real world experience,” he said.

Mac Namee said MSU’s live operations center is the only one of it’s kind in the state. Students go through simulations in class, but many are also working in real-life security operations through Project PISCES, which provides free cybersecurity services to 11 customers in Colorado , including schools and local governments. Over 450,000 Coloradans are benefiting from those services.

MSU student Brian Mulder said that mission appealed to him.

msu cyber security.jpg

“I always like being the cop, so being able to stop the things that are going bad in certain situations, and to be able to take part and assist in preventing the troubles that are coming along with it is sort of a cool thing,” he said.

Undergraduate computer science student Monica Ball said the threat landscape is growing with more devices connected to the internet, and developments in artificial intelligence.

"AI gives people the tools to do more than they would be able to do otherwise and that goes for someone who knows that right questions to ask, to unlock some way into someone else's network," she said.

The growing threat means more demand for trained analysts. Kathryn Harris, president of the non-profit Activate Work said her organization partners with MSU for a tuition free bootcamp in cybersecurity.

“According to Cyberseek, over the last 12 month period there were 22-thousand open cybersecurity jobs in Colorado,” Harris said.

The Activate Work bootcamp serves a group largely made up of students of color. 30 percent of the students are women. MSU undergraduate student Monica Ball said it’s important to bring people with diverse backgrounds into the cybersecurity industry.

The more perspectives you get, even if its interdisciplinary, the more tools you’ll have to solve a problem,” Ball said.

The Attorney General’s grant will go toward training 85 total analysts in the first year and 100 additional analysts by June of 2024.

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