Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Computer Security Education

Whether I am teaching a Computer Concepts course or a course in the Information Technology major, the topic of computer security will usually come up. At some point during the discussion, someone will usually ask "should you really be showing us this?" or something of that nature. I suppose that sort of issue exists in many areas. If you teach someone karate, who is to say they won't use those skills to hurt someone? If you teach someone how to shoot a gun, how do you know they won't shoot a person? Of course, causing physical damage is a little different than computer security. How about this: if you teach someone computer programming, how do you know they won't use it to create a virus? The short answer is that you don't.

We have a few courses that involve computer security at PCCC. I know Bergen also has a course that involves computer security. As a matter of fact, ABET (an accrediting board) includes data security and privacy as a "core" topic in Information Technology. In other words, it is a critical piece of any IT program. You can't send entry-level computer professionals out without some sort of background in this area. Even someone who is going to be employed in a career that involves computers (most college students, I would assume) need some background. Often, the weakest link in computer security is not your firewall, or your antivirus, or your VPN software, it is your users. I think we have a responsibility as educators to raise the awareness level of all students.

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