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.

Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nonprofit provides clothing for homeless
Sydney Grover of Can You Spare A Story?, talks about how she founded the non-profit organization. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like