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The recent ransomware attack on the Colonial pipeline that temporarily halted its distribution has caused consumers to panic by purchasing gas. The pipeline, which is the largest in the country, resumed operations after the company paid hackers millions of dollars, according to USA TODAY.

This is just one example of how vulnerable American businesses are to cyberattacks. Remote working and the rise of online shopping have also prompted companies to improve the security of their software.

And while some of us might fancifully think that hackers could give us all 850 credit scores or wipe out student debt, identifying vulnerabilities and preventing cyber attacks is a serious national security issue.

This need has made cybersecurity one of the most dynamic career paths. Locally, educators train people to work in this growing field.

Last fall, the Rochester Institute of Technology launched a Cyber ​​Security Bootcamp. The 15-week full-time course is a virtual simulation, completely online and modeled as a business. Students face real-world issues as part of the program and come away with the skills to find work in the industry and race.

Justin Pelletier, director of the Cyber ​​Range and Training Center at RIT, helped start the bootcamp. He said many of the students who had taken the courses were switching careers due to the ongoing pandemic.

COVID-19 “has caused massive disruption in all industries. We have recruited dozens of suddenly unemployed people who were displaced in layoffs last year,” Pelletier said.

To get into the mind of a hacker, students are introduced to “ethical hacking,” where they assume the role of an attacker to find and fix vulnerabilities before the “bad guys” can exploit them.

“Cognitive diversity benefits teams. And in creative tasks, it’s even more important, ”said Pelletier. “We try to outwit unconventional thinkers – hackers, usually counter-cultural people – who think differently by design.”

The more diverse the RIT Cybersecurity Bootcamp team, the better its defenses against groups or individuals trying to punch holes, probe, steal, and do harmful things.

Bootcamp organized for deaf and hard of hearing students

RIT has also assembled the very first cohort of Cybersecurity Bootcamp for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

To develop the cognitive diversity of the bootcamp, the college collaborated with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, known as NTID / RIT, which is the world’s only technology college for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Currently in its flagship session, this cohort is led by Mark Jeremy, a lecturer in the Department of Information and Computing Studies at NTID / RIT, who teaches in American Sign Language.

Jeremy, who is deaf, told me in a Zoom call played by Nicole R. Crouse-Dickerson (while her entire interview was being conducted), that he was thrilled to be part of the cohort.

“As a faculty member who uses sign language and can communicate directly with students, this is a unique and very beneficial situation for the participants.”

He said there was a growing demand for people with cybersecurity skills and knowledge.

“They (employers) also need individuals with different perspectives. Deaf and hard of hearing people have a perspective and insight into things that could provide a different approach.”

Jeremy acknowledged that COVID-19 was a horrible time for all of us, but he uncovered technology that has helped the deaf and hard of hearing community.

Deaf people who traditionally ordered in restaurants through video relay systems suddenly were able to take advantage of contactless pickup and online ordering that became mainstream options over the past year.

And, since all of this happens virtually, there is an additional security concern. “It has been a boon for the cybersecurity industry,” he said.

The program helps place all of their graduates, Jeremy noted.

“If a company hires one of our bootcamp graduates, they will find someone who is highly skilled in cybersecurity and has an idea of ​​how they can improve their process of hiring diverse members in their company,” Jeremy said.

Digital tools have helped fill in the gaps, he said.

“Even though deaf people cannot speak English, the technology today is amazing,” Jeremy said. “Communication shouldn’t be a barrier for deaf and hard of hearing people – in any workplace. Deaf people can do anything but hear. If you get the chance, you will be amazed by their motivation, their motivation. work ethic and their ability to think outside. They add a lot to every workplace, and some people may not realize it. “

Acquire skills that lead to careers

Tucker Drake of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and former real estate agent, graduated from one of the early cohorts of RIT bootcamp. He recently started as a Technical Account Manager at Thrive, a NextGen Managed Service Provider.

RIT’s bootcamp gave him the thinking skills to understand new technologies, how to work with them, and the tools to implement those practices, Drake said.

“All of the situations you face in this course are steeped in real-world experiences, allowing you to conceptualize what happens in an information security program,” he said.

In this 100% remote bootcamp, students from inside and outside the United States learn the basics of server administration and the basics of troubleshooting security issues. They develop a networking base and learn how the Internet works, helping them discover the “why” of the tool.

National study: RIT Researchers Investigate Deaf and Hard of Hearing Women on Their Reproductive Health Experiences

Graduates have also become recruiters in the field.

Tracy Doherty, former automotive director in North Carolina, graduated from the same Drake cohort and is booming.

“I found a job before the program ended,” she says.

His experience was hands-on, Doherty said. She now works for a network that places talents in cybersecurity.

“I never thought I would get into recruiting, but here I am, and I love it,” Doherty said.

The program holds a job fair towards the end of each bootcamp to connect employers with participants and a second fair for one-on-one interviews.

If nothing comes from this, the institute’s career centers help cohort graduates get paid employment.

To learn more about the Cybersecurity Bootcamp, click on the following link: https://www.rit.edu/cybersecurity/cybersecurity-bootcamp.

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