Via AP Business

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The demand for cybersecurity experts has grown as crooks with computers hack their way into business, government and other networks.

CyberSeek, a project funded by the U.S. Commerce Department, says nearly 4,600 people are working on cybersecurity in Nebraska and that there are openings for more than 2,000 workers. Nearly 4,300 are doing cybersecurity in Iowa, with openings for more than 2,400 people.

The Omaha World-Herald reports that colleges in both states have been trying to meet the need for more cyberdefenders.

Bellevue University in Bellevue has invested $1.3 million into its new Intelligence Systems Lab, where students learn how to break into networks and then make them more secure.

The university is among the few honored for a strong academic cybersecurity program by being named a center of academic excellence by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Three others in Nebraska are the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College and Norfolk-based Northeast Community College.

Only Iowa State holds that distinction in Iowa, and it was one of the first seven schools in the nation to win that designation, in 1999, said Doug Jacobson, director of the Information Assurance Center there.

“Since the adversary is dynamic and persistent, the field changes constantly,” Jacobson said. “We need more schools in the game to help produce the students.”

The endorsement means among other things that a college has put the necessary resources and expertise into offering up-to-date cybersecurity classes.

Cybersecurity salaries vary depending on expertise and responsibilities, according to CyberSeek. But the average for cybercriminal investigators is $85,000 a year. The average for cybersecurity architects who design system concepts: $129,000.

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Janel Nelson, who’s taught at Bellevue University, said the need for more cybersecurity experts remains acute.

“We’ve had 20 years to work on this problem — more than 20 years — and it’s just as bad as when I started,” Nelson said.

Cybersecurity was undermanned then, she said. And it’s undermanned now.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,