On Thursday, June 8, Hostos Community College, in collaboration with the Community Advisory Council (CAC), held a Cybersecurity Summit to explore the question of how to better prepare students for careers in this growing and vitally important new industry. Hosted by Hostos President Daisy Cocco De Filippis and CAC Chair Elías Alcántara, the Cybersecurity Summit provided Hostos faculty and students an opportunity to discuss the skills, education and future outlook in the field of cybersecurity.
President Cocco De Filippis and CAC Chair Elías Alcántara

Cybersecurity is a growing industry that connects and relates to all fields and disciplines and is increasingly a part of our everyday lives. In response to the growing need for skilled professionals, Hostos has developed a Cybersecurity program that will be available in the coming academic year. The program, developed within the Math Department, will work in tandem with the Continuing Education and Workforce Development division, providing certifications and credentials, as well as articulating with the New York City College of Technology.

The Summit’s Keynote Speaker was the industry leader Elizabeth Sampson, Head of Enterprise Technology and Cybersecurity at Macquarie Asset Management, who likened cyberattacks to a new cold war and stressed that any institution and person is vulnerable. It is also fundamental to so many aspects of modern life, she observed, given how we are so dependent on technology in almost everything we do. Sampson also pointed out that since 2016 the unemployment rate within the Cybersecurity field has been holding steady at 0%, and that starting salaries range between $60k and $100k, well above the national average.

Then Hostos Provost Shiang-Kwei Wang, along with Andrea Fabrizio, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and various faculty members presented the curriculum for the upcoming Cybersecurity program, and VP of Continuing Education and Workforce Development Evelyn Fernandez-Ketchum talked about CEWD’s Certificate programs in Cybersecurity and how they dovetailed with the matriculated programs at HCC.

 (right to left) Associate Dean Andrea Fabrizio, Prof. Nieves Angulo, Prof. Moise Koffi, Prof. Amy Ramson

Following the presentation of the new program, 5 members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Covert Operations Division shared their insights about the critical importance of cybersecurity and stressed that “Cybersecurity is national security.”  They also emphasized that there are many opportunities at the FBI for skilled and well-trained cybersecurity professionals, and that the jobs requires not just technical skills, but solid critical thinking, creativity, and empathy in order to come up with fresh ways of thinking, fresh ideas and new approaches to anticipate cyberattacks and head them off successfully. Supervisory Special Agent  Vindeet Gill also echoed President Cocco De Filippis’ mantra of “manos a la obra / all hands on deck” to point out that effective cybersecurity requires collaborative partnership and giving back to the community through collective protection of our valued assets.

Then, Hostos Director of Career Services Lisanette Rosario interviewed Jouly Lajara, Senior Associate at Price Waterhouse Cooper’s Strategy, Risk and Compliance National Consulting Practice, about how to navigate Cybersecurity career pathways in the private sector. Mr. Lajara underscored the importance of understanding cloud systems and mastering data skills, such as data visualization, as well as having solid communication and presentation skills that are key in working with corporate executives. He also agreed with the FBI agents that critical thinking is vital to understanding how potential adversaries think.

The summit attendees then gathered for separate round table discussions to explore various aspects of the Cybersecurity program’s curriculum and how to lay out effective career pathways for students. The results of those discussions will inform the further elaboration of the program, better tailor the courses to meet industry needs, and establish partnerships with potential employers that will help guarantee Hostos grads with lucrative careers that could improve their lives and secure better futures for their families.