Organizers could not have foreseen it but the College of Coastal Georgia’s Cyber Education Day fell on an appropriate date, a day where a massive cyber attack targeted majors websites Friday across the country. Sites like Twitter, Spotify, Netflix and Amazon were struck by hackers throughout the day, causing woes for millions of web users. News of the attacks served as a reminder of the reality of cyber threats and need for top-tiered online security.

It is why the college invited local, state and national leaders to campus to discuss the growing need for cybersecurity professionals and the great threat posed by cyber criminals.

“Advances in cyber technology, as we all know, has really fundamentally changed the world in which we live,” said Connie Patrick, director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (F.L.E.T.C.). “The faster technology comes out, the more dated it is the next day. It’s hard to stay on top of it, it quickly changes.”

The purpose of the symposium was to bring awareness to the growing amount of cyber threats that are posed to the nation, state and local communities.

“Today, the Pentagon and the nuclear arm of the Department of Energy get hacked about a million times per day,” said former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the event’s keynote speaker. “And, you know, they only have to be right once. We have to be right every time.”

Jobs are opening at a rapid pace for trained cybersecurity professionals, Chambliss said.

“What we are looking for today are well-trained, capable individuals to come into the world of cyber security and to fill the jobs that are going to continue to multiply over the next several years,” he said.

Chambliss said CCGA is unique in having a cyber defense concentration within its criminal justice program.

“From a practical training standpoint, I think the opportunity here is just boundless,” he said.

Patrick said the job opportunities in the field are vast.

“(The Department of Homeland Security) just held a cyber fair where they on the spot hired 1,000 people from colleges where they hosted the cyber fair,” she said. “That’s going to continue, because there’s such a demand.”

FLETC has set up a cyber training division, she said, because cyber crime is such a specific threat, which will continue to grow.

Every student who comes through FLETC today goes through basic cyber threat training, Patrick said.

Since 2012, FLETC has trained more than 14,000 federal officers in cybersecurity.

Patrick encouraged college students who have an interest in this field to pursue it passionately, as the opportunities seem boundless and the need is great.

“Obviously there’s a big demand for this talent, for this skill,” she said. “When you finish your college education and you decide criminal justice is where you want to spend your career … there are so many departments hiring.”

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