Jan 04, 2019
Dmitriy Ivanov

With Billions in Annual Cyber Crime Losses Nationally, Assumption Announces New Cybersecurity Major

With incidents of identity theft on the rise and countless, costly cyber-attacks occurring each year against individuals, businesses and government agencies, Assumption announced that it will offer a new Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity beginning in fall 2018. The institution has hired a new director to oversee the program. The curriculum for the new program is designed to meet the standards outlined by the National Security Agency and U.S. Department for Homeland Security’s (DHS) Center for Academic Excellence credential.

Assumption’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity offers a technology-based education, using methods in computing and information science, engineering, social science and technology management that also foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital information economy. The degree program is comprised of 18 required courses: five courses in computer science and statistics; eight cybersecurity core courses; and five advanced courses in cybersecurity, including a capstone project in cybersecurity leadership, and an independent project or internship.

In January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 28-percent growth for information security analyst positions, rating the field with “much faster than average” growth. The Bureau reports that the latest median annual wage for analysts is $92,600. The highest concentration of jobs in this industry are found in Mid-Atlantic area, including Washington, D.C.

“Cyberspace is a dynamic and evolving ecosystem, with complex, multifaceted networks that connect individuals, organizations and national and international entities,” said Assumption Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Louise Carroll Keeley, Ph.D. “However, cyberspace’s expansion presents new weaknesses to exploit, making it vulnerable to intrusion and exploitation. Cyber threats and vulnerabilities have grown exponentially with the explosion of technology and connectedness, affecting individuals, organizations, and nations alike. Through a new major in cybersecurity, Assumption will train the next generation of individuals who will seek to thwart and respond to cyber threats and attacks.”

University of Maine Fort Kent Professor of Computer Science Raymond Albert, Ph.D., has been named founding director and full professor for the cybersecurity program at Assumption. Prof. Albert assumes his new role at Assumption on August 27.

”It is an exciting and fulfilling time to be engaged in the cybersecurity field,” said Prof. Albert.  “The field is growing at a rate expected to exceed that of technological advancement itself. Correspondingly, the demand for highly qualified cybersecurity professionals continues to far surpass availability. I very much look forward to joining the Assumption family and exploring mutually rewarding collaborative opportunities to firmly establish a quality academic program that will provide the best possible cybersecurity education to its students.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2016 Internet Crime Report, millions in the United States are the victims of Internet crimes each year and it receives, on average 800 complaints, per day. The Report also shares that losses due to email scams, identity theft, ransomware attacks, tech support fraud losses and other nefarious activity generated $1.33 billion in victim losses in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available.

Assumption has begun the rigorous application process to become a DHS National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE). According to DHS, such institutions of higher learning have undergone an in-depth assessment and met rigorous requirements in order to garner this unique designation.

Supported by more than $20.5 million in federal and state grants, Prof.  Albert has led extensive research projects that focus on identifying the next generation of U.S. security analysts; collaboration with academic, government, business leaders and practitioners to create a vision for cybersecurity for the State of Maine; identification of  core cybersecurity vulnerabilities for critical maritime computer systems; and the encouragement of interest amongst high school students in cybersecurity.

Due to his extensive knowledge in the field of cybersecurity, Prof. Albert is an often-sought expert. He has served as a National Science Foundation-sponsored Catalyzing Computing and Cybersecurity in Community Colleges Fellow and was selected to participate in advanced cybersecurity education programs. He was selected as one of only 30 faculty in the country to participate in DHS faculty development workshop to collaborate with colleagues to enhance homeland security education and encourage diversity amongst students working in the field of cybersecurity.

Among his many commitments to the community, Prof. Albert serves as a Major in the Civil Air Patrol; member of the Association of Small Computer Users in Education; reader for advanced placement computer science exams; and proposal evaluator for EDUCAUSE’s annual conference. He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers; Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education; Association for Educational Communications and Technology; National Computer Science Honor Society; Association of Computing Machinery; and the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association.

Professor Albert holds a B.A. from the University of Maine, Fort Kent; an M.S. from the University of Vermont; a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Florida in instructional technology; and a post-graduate certificate in information assurance/security from Purdue University.  

A search committee led by Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Chair Joe Alfano, Ph.D., and department faculty unanimously recommended Prof. Albert for the director post.