Cybersecurity education growing in Nevada as threats increase

Those who step into this virtual world will face thieving cyber gangs who are on the hunt for electronic bikes in Europe.

Players assume the role of a cyber detective: cracking codes and solving puzzles to prevent thefts and protect vulnerable systems.

Are you up for the challenge?

Officials at the Desert Research Institute in Reno hope so. Through a pioneering internship program, DRI wants to make a dent in the dearth of trained workers to fill Nevada’s 1,633 cybersecurity job openings.

Globally, there’s an expected shortfall of 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals by next year.

“The problem is pervasive,” said Brandon Peterson, chief information security officer for DRI. “There’s just simply no way that the traditional education system can even pump out enough individuals.”

Educators like Peterson are trying to get students interested in a field that’s been stereotyped as a career for the socially awkward, nerdy, white male in different ways and at younger ages. DRI’s program — which combines a SANS CyberStart Essentials course, a certification exam and an internship — is one example of the options available for students in Nevada.

“We need to cast a wider net,” Peterson said. “We need to get women, we need to get minorities, and mostly, we need to get people who wouldn’t always necessarily think of a career in cybersecurity or in information technology to start with.”

Monique Moreno, who’s studying networking at the College of Southern Nevada, grew up around computers because her mother works in IT. But she’s aware of the stereotype — that cybersecurity and IT fields are reserved for men — and she’s used to being one of the only women in the room.

“It’s 2018, why do we still think that?” she said with a chuckle.

Sound the alarm

The number and type of threats and data breaches to organizations — educational, financial, health care, public, retail, manufacturing — continue to grow. Mom and pop shops need protection just as much as countries and governments need to be aware of threats to critical infrastructure like electricity grids. In 2015, for example, Russia attacked the Ukraine’s power grid, cutting electricity off from a quarter-million Ukrainians.

“It took them several days to get the power restored,” Peterson said. “We have found in some of our power plants, some traces of those same malwares, but they haven’t been activated.”

Dave Riske, information technology instructor at Western Nevada College in Carson City, said the key to cybersecurity is having a defense structure to offer protection on several layers.

“If someone breaks the outer layer, they’re immediately faced with the next security implementation,” he said.

It’s similar to home security: the fence surrounding a house is the first layer, with the dog inside the fence as the next buffer. The third layer — motion sensor floodlights — hopefully slows the attacker and makes him second guess his next move.

Once the locks on the windows or doors are breached, the alarm sounds.

But, Riske said, there’s always someone who will try to break through.

“Is a thief really going to be thwarted by the lock? Probably not,” Riske said. “They’re going to find a way around it.”

And the tools that are used to breach computer systems can be easy to get and easy to use, said Arthur Salmon, cybersecurity program director for CSN.

But not enough companies, nonprofits or governments place cybersecurity top-of-mind, leaving room for exploitation.

“When are you interested in cybersecurity? The day after you’re front-page news,” said Margaret Taylor, chair of the computing and information technology department at CSN.

Southern Nevada governments and nonprofits are “very far behind” in addressing their own vulnerabilities, said Chris Stream, director of UNLV’s School of Public Policy and Leadership.

“I don’t think local governments, capacity-wide, are prepared for the kinds of attacks that could hit cities, hospitals and nonprofits,” he said.

Stream said tight budgets complicate the matter further.

“You don’t see citizens demanding cybersecurity,” Stream said. “They’re most likely demanding better roads and better schools.”

UNLV’s graduate certificate in cybersecurity, which launched in January, is focused on educating working professionals on how to manage cybersecurity in their businesses. The one-year coursework involves asking students to create a cybersecurity emergency management plan.

“How do you plan for it? How do you strategically invest in it?” Stream said. “Our argument is that it’s more than just an IT-department problem. It needs to be a top priority for the entire organization.”

Some of the biggest threats organizations face, Peterson said, are client-side attacks.

“A huge part of cybersecurity is training end users how to use email safely, how to browse the web safely,” Peterson said. “An attacker, rather than attacking a company’s website, can get into the company by sending an unsuspecting employee an email that entices them to give up their password. Or the employee opens something that contains malware, which allows the attacker to gain a foothold inside the organization.”

‘Everybody’s behind’

According to a February report from the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers, cyber crimes cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016.

“I would say that we’re behind, but we’re in good company because everybody’s behind,” said Brian Mitchell, director of the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology.

In just the past couple of years, however, Mitchell said Nevada has made some “really great strides” in growing its cybersecurity workforce and making cybersecurity a top priority.

Last year, the state Legislature established the Nevada Office of Cyber Defense Coordination — a comprehensive strategy to deter malicious cyber activity against the state and its interests. A two-year strategic plan for the office was implemented on Jan. 1. In addition, OSIT has awarded nearly $630,000 to four organizations, including DRI for its internship program, with the goal of boosting the workforce.

CSN was one of the other recipients, and the college has used the funding to develop new courses like ethical hacking and penetration testing. Western Nevada College is beginning a course in ethical hacking this fall.

“It teaches you how to hack so you can think like a hacker, recognize patterns, and trends, and use them to solve them,” Mitchell said.

Education is key

Meghan Collins, cybersecurity internship program manager for DRI, said cybersecurity professionals need to be problem solvers, and think through the different angles of a problem. It also takes persistence, curiosity and the ability to learn on the fly.

“In IT, there’s more information than anyone can learn,” Peterson said. “You can’t be expected to know everything. To be successful, you have to know where to go get the answers, or who to get the information from.”

Peterson said the game, which runs June 18-22, will identify those who have the aptitude to do cybersecurity, and hopes hundreds of people apply for the first rollout.


CSN is the first school in the state to be named a National Center of Academic Excellence in cyber defense education by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.

While being first gives CSN students an edge over other schools, Salmon said it’s also disappointing.

“It’s really sad because there’s a high demand for workers in this field,” he said. “Part of our job as higher education is to make sure we’re fulfilling the job demand in our area. If CSN is the only one that has it, I think it’s a disservice to the industries.”

Taylor and Salmon were recently part of a team that wrote the standards for Nevada high schoolers to be able to earn career and technical education credit in cybersecurity that can be used for college credit. The first set of K-12 teachers will take part in a training session in June to learn the curriculum.

It’s welcome news to Fran Bromley-Norwood, a cybersecurity teacher at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas who has made it a priority to open her students’ eyes to the opportunities available in the burgeoning field.

“This is that one job area where you’ll never have a problem getting a job,” she said.

Prior to the CTE credit being approved, Bromley-Norwood wrote another course as a placeholder. Students voluntarily arrive at school at 6 a.m. — before the first bell — to learn more about cybersecurity.

On Friday morning, Ricardo Torres, 17, began working on a cybersecurity competition, which will serve as the final for the course.

“Every time I get my hands on a computer, I’m happy,” he said.

The first task on his plate in the virtual mock-up world is to install firewall protections for a fictitious company.

“Cybersecurity is really important because you have to handle the user’s data carefully, so that others don’t get it,” he said. “People don’t like their personal information that they give other companies that they trust being misused by other people.”

Bromley-Norwood also hosted a Girls Go CyberStart competition at Cheyenne, and the high school had the highest number of registrants — 290 — in the entire nation. The game gave young women the chance to discover their talents in cybersecurity and learn about careers in the field. In North America, women represent only 14 percent of the cybersecurity workforce, according to Mitchell.

“It was super exciting because there were girls who had no idea was cybersecurity was, or what it entailed … and they were phenomenal,” Bromley-Norwood said. “They had no idea what they were getting themselves into, and afterwards, they were super successful.”

Moreno said there’s a movement underfoot.

She’s part of a cybersecurity club that meets every Friday at CSN, and recently took part in a CyberTech Girls event at the college.

“It’s all about encouraging the younger generation or even women who have some interest to make the leap,” she said. “You just have to break the barrier.”

Contact Natalie Bruzda at or 702-477-3897. Follow @NatalieBruzda on Twitter.

Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Marsh brings historic replica of rural church to Amargosa Valley
Jim Marsh talks during the opening of the Chapel at Longstreet, a replica of an 1874 Catholic church built in the mining town of Belmont, Nev., at Marsh's Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chase Stevens/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Mob Museum
Saddle bronc rider Joey Sonnier earns spot at NFR after overcoming years of drug addiction
Joey Sonnier started saddle bronc riding at 18, but at 20 he began using methamphetamine to cope with the work of the rodeos and became addicted. At 39, after years of addiction and a low point that pushed him to rehab, he's qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Core Arena opens at the Plaza downtown in time for NFR
Core Arena, downtown's first permanent outdoor equestrian center, opens to the public at the Plaza. The arena will be used for events throughout the year, including the 10-day 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas
MountainView Hospital celebrates the opening of the new Sunrise Health GME Simulation Center.
MountainView Hospital celebrates the opening of the new Sunrise Health GME Simulation Center. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
NFR Preps Livestock for the Limelight
NFR’s Jed Pugsley discusses the care that goes into preparing the rodeo’s livestock for Las Vegas’ big event.
Grand Menorah lighting begins Hanukkah
Rabbi Shea Harlig led the ceremonial lighting of the menorah to begin Hanukkah at the Fremont Street Experience. There were also performances by the Desert Torah Academy's choir and the Dancing Dreidels. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Perla Gumm has spent the past few years collecting toys for kids for the LV Rescue Mission
Perla Gumm has spent the past few years collecting toys for kids for the LV Rescue Mission. It's something she started even before the rescue mission was her beneficiary; she just felt a need to collect toys and teamed up with them later. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Marvin Menzies on Cincinnati
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about Cincinnati and his own program. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Joey Logano talks about Champions Week in Las Vegas
NASCAR champion Joey Logano talks about the future of Champion's Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 28, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain hits Las Vegas Valley
Widespread rain hit the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Valley Hit with Rain, Clouds
Rain and clouds hit the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday afternoon.
Ducks have Lorenzi Park to themselves
Thursday’s rain kept people inside, leaving Lorenzi Park to the ducks.
Kyle Busch Reflects On Disappointing End To Nascar Season
Kyle Busch reflects on disappointing end to his 2018 season during NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 28, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Animal Foundation's Lost & Found offers community options for lost pets
The Lost & Found at The Animal Foundation allows members of the community to turn in lost pets or retrieve them. They recently started using the Finding Rover app that uses facial recognition to find and report lost pets.
The National Atomic Testing Museum is a Blast
Brookman Elementary School sets world record
All 776 students at Brookman Elementary School helped set a world record by connecting a chain of pipe cleaners that measured more than 11 miles. Student got 10 pipe cleaners for every book they read. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV’s football players painted the Fremont Cannon red in celebration to their victory against Reno.
UNLV’s football players painted the Fremont Cannon red outside of the Student Union in celebration to their victory against in-state rival the University of Reno. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Barn Buddies Rescue
Barn Buddies Rescue is a non-profit dedicated to the rescue of abused, neglected or abandoned farm animals.
R-J's Mark Anderson on UNLV's victory
Review-Journal sports reporter Mark Anderson recaps UNLV's victory over Southern Utah. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Marvin Menzies on beating Southern Utah
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about the victory over Southern Utah. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Michigan State talks Las Vegas Invitational win
The Spartans defeated Texas 78-68 at Orleans Arena on Friday.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Armani Rogers on his return to playing
UNLV quarterback Armani Rogers talks about being back on the field. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Black Friday at Fry's
Shoppers line up for deals early on Black Friday at Fry's Electronics on Las Vegas Boulevard South. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Menzies on state of UNLV's team
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about where his team stands after four games. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez on possibly changing the UNR date
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez talks about the idea of changing the UNR date to Nevada Day. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Women’s shelter gets $1.5 million dollar renovation
The Shade Tree, which offers food, shelter, facilities and services to women, gets a $1.5 million dollar renovation.
UNLV's Drew Tejchman on playing safety
UNLV wide receiver Drew Tejchman talks about also playing safety. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Hailey Dawson Day
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like