Cybersecurity: It’s Everyone’s Responsibility!

With so many things connected to the internet, we all need to be aware of the dangers. More and more devices are connected to the internet all the time, which means more entry points and vulnerabilities. To secure the many “internet of things” (IoT) connected devices is a major cybersecurity challenge. A cyberattack can take down an entire organization. In fact, it can have a huge impact nationwide.

On a more personal level, even refrigerators can be hacked and used as a gateway into the network. If your smart watch is hacked, the hacker now knows your schedule for that day and when your home may be vulnerable. In one instance, an internet-connected fish tank was the entry point that led to a cyberattack.

“For careless operators, an IoT-connected device could lead to breaches bigger and more invasive than we’ve ever seen.” –Naresh Persaud, senior director of security at CA Technologies

The IT security classes offered at West-MEC in Phoenix, Arizona, provide students with an opportunity to learn how to secure computer networks and manage risk. Students who are enrolled in this career and technical education program learn ethical hacking defense, troubleshooting and how to mitigate security risks.

This year Bradley Whitaker, one of West-MEC’s IT Security instructors, hosted an event to help bring awareness to the public about potential vulnerabilities and how to avoid becoming a victim of a cybersecurity attack.

After The Evening of Cybersecurity event, Anthony Aranda, an IT security student, shared his thoughts on the event and why it mattered.

  1. Can you tell me more about The Evening of Cybersecurity?
    The Evening of Cybersecurity included a four-hour presentation on many topics that the IT security students learn during their time in this program. The event allowed students to educate the general public about what we are learning in our program at West-MEC, and on topics that can help the general public. Mr. Whitaker provided valuable support, though the event was planned and run by SkillsUSA students and those enrolled in the IT security class.
  2. How did The Evening of Cyber Security get its start?
    The Evening of Cyber Security started as an idea to get ourselves out there and let the public understand exactly what our program is and what it is about. This is the first year I have taken place in this event, but this is the second year that we have held this event.
  3. What were some highlights from this year’s event?
    The event began with a guest speaker, John McMillin, who worked in cyber defense in the U.S. Army. He talked about protecting our critical infrastructure and of its importance for the future. From there the students led the crowd to each student presentation where we discussed topics such as the anatomy of a computer, physical computer maintenance, live hacking/CTF, basic network configuration, staying safe online, OS optimization and maintenance, and cyber warfare and cyberattacks.
  4. What sparked your interest in cybersecurity?
    Personally, what sparked my interest in cybersecurity is the whole concept of it all. I love the idea of helping protect people while also preventing others from doing things they shouldn’t be doing. Cybersecurity is a very technical topic but it is also very interesting and can be really fun.
  5. Do you plan to pursue a career in cybersecurity?
    I would love to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Not only is the entire field very interesting and opens a lot of opportunities, the pay is also very good.
  6. What is your biggest takeaway from being enrolled in this program and how will this class contribute to future successes in your life?
    I considered myself knowledgeable with computers before but, as soon as I started at West-MEC, I learned so much more information. I have learned how to build, take care of, run, and troubleshoot computers with many Windows operating systems. This class will definitely contribute to my life as I have already earned my first industry certification and the year isn’t even over.

Rachael Mann speaks about the future of work and how educators can equip students for projected changes in the world around us. She is the director of professional development for West-MEC in Phoenix, Arizona, and coauthor of The Martians in Your Classroom. Contact Rachael to learn how you can create future-ready learning spaces in career and technical education.

Interested in learning more about a career in cybersecurity? Check out a CTE program near you!