By: Tyler Costello
Algonquin’s Internet security program, currently in its third year, is already looking to expand in order to meet the demand of a growing industry.
“IT security companies are all lamenting the lack of experienced skilled people in this field,” said Tom Levasseur, who works for CGI Group Inc., one of the largest IT consulting firms in the region and a provider of part-time teaching staff to the program. He also founded and owns HackingAway.org, a website that focuses on cyber security.
“Another year would give the students skills that will make them immediately more useful right from their first job,” said Levasseur.
Right now the program has 24 seats once a year but the college is investigating the possibility of increasing that to around 30 to 48 or running it twice a year, says Patrick Ouellette, program coordinator of the computer systems technician and technology program.
“We’re in the process of putting a proposal together for further training beyond that,” said Ouellette.
Ouellette said he would like to see another year added to the program so that students can gain that more in depth, applied learning.
An additional year would likely focus on penetration testing, a method of evaluating the security of a computer system or network by simulating an attack.
“It would be a good idea to expand it, there have been a lot of breaches going on each and every year,” said Jesse Aboagye, a student in the program. “I would take it if they were teaching those technical skills because the demand is high.”
The field of Internet security is growing quickly because as more people use the Internet more opportunities for security issues arise, says Levasseur.
“The cyber criminals are finding more and more ways to steal data that can be sold at a profit. These criminals are becoming more numerous and more sophisticated, so we defenders must do the same,” said Levasseur.
“There is a problem… but Algonquin is getting to a position where we are starting to train people that will help,” said Ouellette.
Students can enroll in the program after they have graduated from the two-year computer systems technician program.
In those first two years students learn operating systems, hardware and all the components that make up the IT world. After graduating the students have the option of taking a third year with a choice of networking or Internet security.
To be accepted into a third year of Internet security, “You have to have a very high GPA, you have to be an achiever and a go-getter,” said Ouellette.
Once in the program students learn a variety of tools that will help with Internet security such as intrusion prevention, digital forensics and disaster recovery plans.
“They teach us how someone might break into a system in a very controlled way,” said David Corson, the Students’ Association president and a student in the program.
“You’re protecting everything and all the potential ways that somebody could get in, the hacker needs one,” said Ouellette. “Because of that, it’s a very tough game.”