Cyber Security Degree Tennessee – Before We Get Into The Topic , let’s Learn Some Basic Of This Topic
If you are interested in cybersecurity research in the Volunteer State, raise your hand. You’re good. To get started, click on the list of Tennessee schools with programs or read our full guide. This guide explains everything the state has to offer students and graduates, from scholarships to salaries.
Studying Cybersecurity in Tennessee
Many excellent academic programs in Tennessee focus on cybersecurity. However, some schools are more involved than others in pushing the field forward.
- Jackson State Community College, a two-year college in Mississippi, is the only one in the state to be recognized by the National Security Agency as a Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense Education. In addition to its academics, it’s doing something a bit unusual for a community college: It’s leading a National Science Foundation-funded project to incorporate “puzzle-based learning” into classroom STEM learning.
- That project is being coordinated with the Center for Information Assurance at the University of Memphis, whose researchers also won an NSA grant in 2015 to create an adaptive multi-factor authentication system incorporating passwords, biometric data, and other features. Memphis hosts free GenCyber Camps that last a week and is a stop for middle- and high school students to learn cyber hygiene.
- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga InfoSec Center is less focused on research than the University of Memphis, which isn’t to say it hasn’t kept up with the latest developments – the Infosec Center’s co-directors edit the International Journal of Information Security and Privacy.
- Tennessee Tech is a state-leading higher education institution. It gave life to the Women in CyberSecurity (WiCyS) Initiative in 2013 to increase female participation in the security workforce. WiCyS hosts an annual conference each year that is moved to a different city every year. Tennessee Tech built then founded the Cybersecurity Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC) in 2015. CEROC manages WiCyS and also runs Gen-Cyber Camps. Recent faculty-led projects include graphs that detect potentially dangerous anomalies and energy meters that protect homeowners from potential burglars.
Online Cybersecurity Programs for Tennessee
Tennessee’s cybersecurity programs are still available on campus, but they have not been made online. Fountainhead College of Technology, which is an NSA/DHS-recognized university has the only exception.
Cybersecurity Bachelor’s Degree Online
Fountainhead offers a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Network Security & Forensics. This is a complete degree. Students should have an associate degree in a technical area to be eligible for the program. It will then cover a wide range of skills that prepares students to work in an IT department or with law enforcement agencies.
Cybersecurity Scholarships for Tennessee
Just by browsing departmental websites, we found three scholarships from recognized NSA/DHS institutions. Keep an eye out for federal initiatives that promote cybersecurity education outside of the departments. For instance, students at the University of Memphis and other National Centers of Academic Excellence may be eligible for the Department of Defense’s Information Assurance Scholarship Program.
Jackson State Community College
- OIT Scholarship: Jackson State’s Office of Information Technology wants more students to take computer classes, making anyone majoring in Computer Information (including those with a concentration in Cyber Defense) eligible for $250 a semester. Register for a computer course and submit a recommendation and personal statement to claim the funds.
Tennessee Technological University
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Roughly six of seven undergraduate upperclassmen in the Computer Science Cybersecurity track win this full scholarship every year. The scholarship includes health insurance, professional development funds, and a $22,500 living allowance that increases to $34,000 once they graduate from grad school. The award will be “paid back” by students agreeing to work in a government agency once they have graduated.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
- CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: UT Chattanooga receives the same funding Tennessee Tech does to offer this full scholarship. Although the benefits are identical, the eligibility requirements for the scholarship are slightly different. Both undergraduates and graduates with a computing degree can apply for the award.
Cybersecurity Events in Tennessee
Cybersecurity Meetups & Communities in Tennessee
The vitality of Tennessee’s professional associations and hacker society is a key strength in the state’s cybersecurity scene. Each of the four largest cities in Tennessee – Memphis Nashville Knoxville Chattanooga and Knoxville – have at least one group that students or practitioners can join. Here is a list of the most active:
- DEF CON: DEF CON is an annual hacking conference held in Las Vegas, but some people can’t wait to go. This is where DEF CON groups come in. Tennessee’s information security lovers gather via DC423 in Chattanooga on the last Wednesday of each month. This website clearly was designed by someone who grew-up programming code on Commodores in the 1980s. Drive-up I-75 to Knoxville to join DC865 on the last Saturday of the month. This group is more focused than DC423, and uses informal discussions and Capture the Flag contests to mentor new entrants. Meanwhile, if you loved Zork as a kid, DC615 in Nashville is on tap for the last Thursday of the month, where in addition to hacking wifi, members make their own vintage gaming consoles.
- Information Systems Security Association (ISSA): ISSA is a professional organization that charges dues, but students are admitted for next to nothing. There are two chapters of the group in the Volunteer State. The Chattanooga Chapter meets quarterly for presentations from area practitioners. For similar presentations, the Middle Tennessee Chapter meets monthly. You can expect to hear talks such as “Analyzing user behavior in mobile security” and “Application Security, a business driver.”
- ISACA: ISACA is now just an acronym, but it used to stand for Information Systems Audit and Control Association. There are active chapters of this professional organization in Memphis and Middle Tennessee. For guest talks, the Crescent Club hosts them monthly. They focus on management and organizational practices. This latter combines networking breakfasts, chapter meetings with training events as well as certification review courses.
- (ISC)2 Middle Tennessee Chapter: Have an advanced technical certification? Do you want one? Nashville ISC2 members meet monthly to hear guest speakers. They also receive discounts on seminars from Clearwater Compliance, a local training group.
- NashSec: Not in the mood to pay dues to ISSA, ISACA, or (ISC)2? Come over to Two Bits for a drink and conversation with InfoSec professionals on the third Thursday of the month. Do not ask for an agenda, there isn’t one.
- Nashville 2600: Nashville 2600 has been promoting technical literacy since the 1990s. Emma Bistro hosts members with or without computers every Friday to discuss cybersecurity advancements in a casual setting. Many informal groups have sprung up around the world, including 2600 groups. Knoxville has its own group that meets at the same time and date at the West Town Mall food court.
- OWASP Knoxville Chapter: The people behind the Open Web Application Security Project want to make software safer. Knoxville OWASP members do not have to pay membership fees for the quarterly meetings at Blue Coast Grill & Bar. However, they are expected to purchase their own drinks. The meetings can take many forms, including presentations on DevOps and hacking demonstrations or good old-fashioned Capture the Flag contests.
Note that ISSA and OWASP both have branches in other Tennessee cities that were inactive for a while. OWASP members can be found in Nashville and Chattanooga, while ISSA has a Memphis branch. To get the band back together, use the contact information on their homepage!
Cybersecurity Workshops and Conferences in Tennessee
Memphis and Nashville are 24th and 25th largest cities in the US, respectively. It’s therefore only natural that large pieces of training (e.g. SANS Institute Security Awareness Summit 2017) and tech expos (Data Connectors Tech-Security Conferences 2017) would regularly visit the state. Many events return year after year and they don’t just happen in the biggest cities.
- BSides Knoxville: BSides Knoxville came onto the scene in May 2015. BSides is a daylong conference that features homegrown InfoSec experts. It includes presentations on digital forensics and reverses engineering, as well as attacker strategy and defender strategy. It is less expensive than a UT football ticket.
- BSides Nashville: Nashville’s take on BSides maintains the grassroots feel of Knoxville’s event but spices things up with multiple tracks. While the Red Track talks are more offensive, the Blue Track tech talks focus on defensive tactics. Are you not following the concept of blue and red teams? The Green Track is for InfoSec Newcomers.
- EDGE Security Conference: Sword & Shield Enterprise Security, based in Knoxville, put on this two-day October affair in Marble City. Inaugural 2016 conference featured a keynote address by the former White House CIO, as well as multi-track presentations and panels featuring business executives and government officials. Students receive a discounted rate
- PhreakNIC: Since 1997, Nashville 2600 has been put on PhreakNIC. Although the convention is now a two-day hacker conference, it remains an InfoSec event. In between nootropics seminars and Settlers of Catan games, there will be many interesting presentations about cryptography, social engineering, and using Legos to teach technology.
- SkyDogCon: Hackers and makers with an information security infatuation convene in Nashville every October for three days. SkyDogCon, like PhreakNIC, keeps it lighthearted by including a Capture the Flag contest, Lockpick Village, and Hacker Jeopardy along with presentations given from a couch.
Cybersecurity jobs in Tennessee
Nashville’s tech market had the second-highest rate of growth in the nation from 2010 to 2015, second only to Charlotte. Cybersecurity was a part of that growth, with job postings doubling over roughly the same time period. Yet Tennessee still has far too few cybersecurity positions given the size of its population; job demand concentration is half the national average. One group working to change that is the Cyber & Information Security Consortium. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, University of Tennessee are its members. Other big names in the state’s cybersecurity environment include Sword & Shield Enterprise Security (sponsors of EDGE Security Conference). The Consortium aims to increase R&D in cybersecurity and create a pipeline of cybersecurity professionals for its members.
Knoxville graduates might do worse than work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This Oak Ridge National Laboratory is home to a Cyber & Information Security Research Group that includes more than 30 of America’s top cybersecurity thinkers. Graduates who move west to Nashville might be interested in jobs at a few members of the Cybersecurity 500. This is a list that includes the top companies in the industry. Kroll ranked in the top 100 has a global reach that complements its large office in Nashville. It does everything, from policy reviews to pen tests. A homegrown company, Clearwater Compliance, ranks just outside the top 10. It manages risk management for the healthcare sector. The Hospital Corporation of America, which operates healthcare facilities in the US and UK, has a Nashville headquarters and requires security engineers to ensure that they run smoothly. It has been a member of the Fortune 500 for over two decades.
FedEx, another Fortune 500 firm, is the main employer in Memphis. It requires information security advisors and analysts to manage its vast delivery infrastructure. Freight shippers U.S. Xpress Enterprises also need a similar workforce at their Chattanooga headquarters.
Cybersecurity Salaries in Tennessee
Wage-wise, Tennessee tech workers are well paid. Data from Indeed.com shows that security engineers ($95-100K) and information security analysts ($80-85K) make around the national average for their positions, as do IT security specialists ($105-115K) in Nashville and Oak Ridge. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks information security analyst postings and has slightly different figures. According to the BLS, the median wage for 2016 is $76,000. This compares to nearly $92,000 nationally. Tennesseeans are likely to be able to live comfortably with the lower salary, even though the cost of living is over 10 percent higher than in the rest of the nation. Nashville is not nearly as expensive as New York.