Tidewater Community College's network security program — now known as cyber security — trains professionals to recognize and prevent threats to information and information systems, and to master techniques to combat computer crimes.
The 27-credit hour career studies certificate includes classes in Network Security Basics, Network Attacks, Computer Crimes and Hacking, Network Security Layers, Network Communication, Security and Authentication and Legal Topics in Network Security.
The brainchild of program head Robert Guess, the career studies certificate was started in 2000. Guess says, "My whole life led to this moment. In the ’90s, I became fascinated with computer security and how systems can be broken and fixed. My love of cyberspace started before cyberspace even existed. I was 9 when I began exploring the short wave radio spectrum (the precursor to the Internet) and dabbled in electronics."
The program is designed for working professionals with significant networking experience, and when completed, opens doors for advancement. In addition, the program prepares students for industry certification exams.
"Here in Hampton Roads we serve a critical national security interest with the Navy, and many of our graduates work to protect data in the defense global information grid," Guess says. "My goal for students is that they gain a real passion for the field, and, of course, move forward in their careers.”
Student Beth Quesada adds, "I'm taking a class online, but I'm always welcome to attend a face-to-face class and that's been a great benefit of the program."
Guess got his start working for a Department of Defense contractor and still remains a consultant. "I have a range of contacts, and it's not uncommon for them to call and ask for recommendations when hiring network security professionals."
Computer hacking is not a new phenomenon, and the technology to prevent crimes has improved, according to Guess. "Now it's important to focus on the people skills to ensure data is protected from the inside out," he says. "One has to be so careful. Today’s crafted phishing attacks are very convincing."
Student Sean Sweeney calls the classes “amazing. I wouldn't miss a single session. I gain so much from just interacting with other students and Professor Guess."