Students' interest in Cybersecurity industry rising as hackers continue to pose a threat nationwide

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Posted at 4:40 PM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 17:15:46-04

TAMPA, Fla. — As our technology grows so do our vulnerabilities. The hack on the Colonial Pipeline has made the need for enhanced cybersecurity a priority.

President Biden describes oil pipelines, water systems and electric grids as “lifelines” that need to be better protected.

“We’re in a competition with China and the rest of the world to win the 21st-century economically,” he said. “We’re not gonna win by competing with an infrastructure that is out of the 20th century.”

“Anything can be attacked — your car, your Barbie doll, your elevator, your refrigerator, anything,” said Alper Yayla, a professor of cybersecurity at the University of Tampa.

He says the good news is more people are interested in fighting the good fight — students enticed by a difficult task.

“This is not a boring job,” he said. “This is a challenging job and when you are working as a cybersecurity professional the other part, the hackers, they are as smart as you are, maybe they are more skilled and have more resources so it’s a big challenge.”

And demand is big right now. UT is filling it with programs on all educational levels. Yayla has taught cybersecurity since 2005 and says the curriculum is changing rapidly because the threats are too.

“Every year I have to update my slides, I have to change my class exercises,” he said.

He says fighting cybersecurity is hard, because for the hackers, although they may fail numerous times, it only takes one success to win.

“On the other hand, the company needs to be secure every single day so that is a huge disadvantage,” he said. “The odds are against us or the companies.”

Plus, real hackers are hard to catch which means there’s not a lot of accountability.

“There is no downside, right? I attack, I attack, and I attack and they can’t really catch me. The only thing that can happen is that I’m not successful so I’m just losing time,” he said.

President Biden says he is taking steps to change that.

“Our Justice Department has issued a new task force dedicated to prosecuting ransomware hackers to the full extent of the law,” said the President.

Yayla says some pro-active companies even hire what the industry calls “white hat hackers” to try and hack into their system to expose weak spots in their security and the Biden Administration is asking government agencies to work more closely with private sectors to identify risks and beef up security.

Read the President’s full executive order on cybersecurity here.

The Better Business Bureau says the attack on the pipeline prompted “a joint warning from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and FBI to businesses and critical infrastructure-related industries to review their own cybersecurity practices.”

Here are some resources from the BBB on protecting your business and yourself:

Today’s cybercriminals pose more significant threats to the economy than ever before. New safeguards are needed in order to protect businesses both small and large.

Businesses are better able to manage cyber-attacks and learn from industry best practices by:

• Exploring the real and perceived risks of cyber-attacks

• Offering education and awareness - cybersecurity is a complex topic for the business community

• Building public trust in businesses’ cybersecurity standards


Cybersecurity is not only about adding layers of security technology. It starts with an understanding about managing cybersecurity risks. The Better Business Cybersecurity 5-Step Approach helps business owners do just that. This model helps business owners:

• Understand how best to identify and protect vital data and technology assets

• Learn to detect and respond to cybersecurity threats

• Recover from a cybersecurity incident


Setting out to create a culture of cybersecurity is a rigorous process. Here is a list of useful resources that can help you get started:

For Your Business: View great resources from the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and leading technology companies e.g. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.

For Your Home: Protecting your home has never been more critical. Use these resources to safeguard your key asset.

For Cyber Crime Victims

Reporting: Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). IC3's mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cybercrime.

Recovery: ID Theft Victims of identity theft can look here to find resources.