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UCCS to help fight hackers



At this point, you're lucky if you've never received a letter or email that says "your information may have been compromised."

Health insurer Anthem has been hacked. So has Home Depot, J.P. Morgan and Target. And that's not even getting into Taylor Swift's social media accounts.

If anyone is going to save us from these information-gobblers, it's cyber security professionals. Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough of them. So the U.S. Army Reserve is partnering with several large private employers and six universities, including the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, to produce "a new cadre of cyber security experts." (The Federal Bureau of Investigation, naturally, is also a partner.)

The program is called the Army Reserve Cyber Private Public Partnership Program (Cyber P3), and it kicked off with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Feb. 10.

"The demand for these cyber security professionals and cyber experienced soldiers far outpaces the current inventory," Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley, chief of United States Army Reserve, stated in a press release. "The GAO estimates that there is currently a need for 40,000 cyber security professionals just to satisfy the government's demand. Our belief is the Cyber P3 effort will serve as a seed to enhance these critical efforts and lessen the skilled soldiers' shortage gap."

The specifics of the program are still being worked out, but so far it looks like Army reservists will be given scholarships to attend UCCS' advanced computer engineering courses. The reservists will then use that knowledge to protect military and private-industry computer systems.

Martin Wood, UCCS' senior vice chancellor of university advancement, notes that the school has been offering cyber security courses for a while. In fact, the school is designated as a National Security Agency/Department of Homeland Security Certified Center of Excellence in Cyber Security. Given the school's background and its location next to so many military bases, Wood says, UCCS was a natural fit for Cyber P3.

UCCS is working with other universities, the Army and private industry partners to create a curriculum. Cyber P3 also needs funding, which will be requested as part of the 2016 federal budget. Assuming it's approved, the program at UCCS would start in fall 2016. There will likely be 20 to 24 students in the first year, and the program would expand each year after that.

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