New Southeast Cybersecurity Minor Boosting Student Job-Readiness Skills

cybersecurity 2015CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., May 8, 2015 – Students at Southeast Missouri State University will have a chance to enhance their resume, broaden their skill set and meet rapidly changing workforce demands for tech savvy graduates by pursuing a new minor in Cybersecurity in Business Systems.

The minor was approved today by the University’s Board of Regents.

The Donald L. Harrison College of Business and the Department of Polytechnic Studies have collaborated to offer the minor, targeting students with majors outside of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs wishing to enhance their technical capabilities. Students can officially declare the minor beginning in fall 2016, although coursework will be available this coming fall.

“Many graduates that may be working in other careers would benefit from the exposure to these concepts,” said Dr. Brad Deken, chair of the Department of Polytechnic Studies. “We and the College of Business felt it would be a great complement for several of their programs, like accounting.”

The 15-hour minor comes on the heels of the rapidly growing Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity and another minor in cybersecurity geared toward those already in technical fields, such as networking or computer science. This new minor, though, is designed to introduce cybersecurity concepts to those who don’t already have the technical computer background, according to Deken.

Dr. Leisa Marshall, Southeast professor of accounting, said all business majors depend on reliable information for decision-making. Data that is compromised has potentially devastating effects on decisions made by all individuals within an organization. Knowledge of the technical aspects related to controls and threats of computerized systems puts the business person in a better position to evaluate the value of information within the organization, which is vital to decision-making, she said.

“As an end-user of the information produced from computer systems, business majors will be in a prime position to be able to speak to the technical specialists, in their language, about potential issues with the resulting information,” Marshall said.

She said the new cybersecurity minor will be especially useful to accounting students.

“Accounting graduates in their positions of gathering, summarizing and communicating information must be cognizant of the validity and reliability of data presented to others for decision-making; or those in the auditing field will be evaluating the validity and reliability of their clients’ information. Accountants are quite likely to serve as a member of the information technology team, advising on systems development, controls and threats to organizations’ systems,” she said. “An organization’s information extends beyond the accounting for business activities and includes information about customers and products – all within the purview of marketing majors.

“As organizations today use customer relationship management systems, the integrity of customers’ information is critical, not only for the customers’ safety and privacy, but also for the decisions made from the data in the customer relationship database,” she said.

Marshall added that economics and finance majors’ knowledge of compromised data will greatly impact their analysis of financial information and other nonfinancial data derived from an organization’s computer system. In addition, management majors, in their roles of planning, leading, organizing, and controlling in a most effective and efficient manner also depend on reliable and valid information for decision-making, she said.

Deken said students with a cybersecurity background are in demand by employers and viewed as extremely desirable since few schools offer the program. Also, he says there are more cybersecurity jobs available than students graduating.

“We’ve seen a lot of employer doors open to cybersecurity majors. I think having this minor will help set students apart from their classmates, especially for those mid-to-large firms where a web presence is crucial,” Deken said. “I think we have all seen cybersecurity in the news and rarely is it a positive story. Companies realize they need professionals in this field, and there are few schools that give students the training they need. We’ve worked with a number of businesses to make sure our graduates are what they need, and it’s been paying off for our students.”

Deken says many businesses rely on a cyber-infrastructure for their day-to-day operations. Having students skilled in both business and cybersecurity will be an added bonus to companies, helping ensure students who pursue the minor have the opportunity to increase their job skills and employment opportunities.

“While you certainly don’t have to be a cybersecurity professional to use these systems, an appreciation for the risks and an introduction to tools for protection can be quite beneficial. All it takes is one employee doing something wrong to put an entire system at risk,” Deken said.