Community college program a response to cyber attacks |

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WATERLOO, Iowa — Cyber attacks have become a common occurrence that can impact all kinds of businesses and organizations.

Hackers are constantly trying to break into computers connected to the internet – every 39 seconds on average, according to a University of Maryland study.

A new information technology program launching this fall at Hawkeye Community College will produce graduates equipped to respond to the attacks. The associate’s degree of applied science in cybersecurity was developed in response to a need across Iowa for the service.

Todd Bengen, a Hawkeye business and information technology instructor, told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier there’s “a big push at all levels in the state of Iowa to try and implement security” as businesses become increasingly reliant on the internet.

“The drivers behind it are statistics from all kinds of different agencies,” said Bengen, projecting a “huge” amount of growth in cybersecurity careers and a large shortage of workers. U.S. Bureau of Labor figures show an expected 12% increase in computer and information technology occupations nationwide – or the addition of 546,200 jobs – from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all careers.

IT administrators at some Cedar Valley businesses are glad to see the college offering the new degree.

“Security fits into so many roles these days,” said Jay Bracken, information security officer with The VGM Group. People working in areas like accounting or facilities “need to have some knowledge of security,” he noted. The skills students will learn in the new program can “launch you into a lot of career paths.”

“Since we’re in the health care business, we need to be in the security business,” said Jeremy Kauten, VGM’s chief information officer and senior vice president of information technology.

Robin Nelson, shareholder director of security projects at BerganKDV, suggested that in coming years students from other Hawkeye programs may begin to take some cybersecurity classes because those skills are so important.

“So, I definitely give Hawkeye credit for getting ahead of this,” he said.

“With everything in the news, having that security foundation is going to…