Demand Is There For Network Protectors

February 2, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — The number of companies affected by malicious attacks on their networks almost doubled between 1998 and 2004, and Davenport University is working to get more network security professionals into the work force to deal with the situation.

Reid Gough, Davenport University dean of the School of Technology, said more than 90 percent of companies are attacked by some kind of network security problem that leads to financial loss.

“This is not an IT problem anymore,” he said. “It’s hitting companies where it counts — in the pocketbooks.”

In the last year, Gough said customers and companies have lost $56.8 billion because of network problems, and the issue is growing. In 1998, only 50 percent of companies were affected by malicious attacks on networks. That number jumped to 94 percent by 2004.

“Criminals found out this can be big business,” he said.

Davenport has found that it can be big business to stop such attacks, as well. The school now has a program that trains network security professionals.

The associate of applied science degree in network security will teach students how to use tools and techniques to implement security on network devices and operating systems. Davenport also offers a bachelor of applied science degree that teaches students to create and implement network security policies, and prepares students to perform administrative oversight of disaster recovery, information assurance and other network security policies.

Gough said the growing field is a way for students to find a relevant career that cannot easily be outsourced.

“This is a very new field but one that’s going to continue to be in high demand,” he said. “These jobs are going to stay with U.S. workers.”

The network security degree is part of a three-pronged program that includes information technology and security as well as biometric security.

The degree appeals both to those who are already working in the information technology industry and those just starting out.

“We’re training current IT workers as well as students who want to get into the IT security field,” he said.

Gough said a significant number of companies already have contacted Davenport about using its graduates, as well as about training their own IT employees.

“It affects every single industry in this country,” Gough said, citing transportation, banking, government and health care as examples.

“Everywhere that personal information is stored, there’s a need for a network security professional.”

Gough said the jobs in network security can be lucrative for graduates, with the pay ranging from $64,000 to $98,000.

“When they start a job, they really hit the ground running,” he said. “We give them all the skills they need right here.”    

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