Grand Canyon University working to teach the public cybersecurity

Grand Canyon University is giving individuals interested in cybersecurity the ability to get an inside look at the industry through its Cyber Center on Excellence.

“The Cyber Center is a place where community members and students can come and have an interactive experience and they can learn about the high demand cybersecurity paths they can take,” Cyber Center of Excellence Coordinator Steven Faulkner said.

Through its “Cyber Saturdays,” the center teaches Grand Canyon University (GCU) students and the public about the opportunities in the cybersecurity field as well as industry best practices.

“It’s a two-hour workshop and basically we walk them through the process and show them different demonstrations or presentations about how to interact or how to become excited and get into the field of cybersecurity,” Faulkner said. “We teach mainly network forensics, so we show them how your information can be infiltrated.”

For those interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity, the center also provides attendees with information on career paths they can follow. 

“A lot of the technology-driven industries are at a shortage,” Faulkner said. “We want to make sure that [students are] prepared for these jobs… So, when students come in on Cyber Saturdays, they come in and they get a full interactive experience.” 

The center’s Saturday workshop shadows the school’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity degree program that was developed by industry professionals. The workshop also teaches individuals ethical hacking. 

According to GCU, ethical hacking is the act of penetrating networks to find threats and vulnerabilities in the system. The penetration tests are performed with the permission of the businesses. 

Learning hands-on how intruders get in is the best way to prevent it, GCU Professor in Cybersecurity Khester Kendrick said.

“Theory only gets you so far, if we actually teach a student how they actually hack it, how they actually get into that and can actually see what’s going on and the steps are provided to do it, then you’re more able to defend against it,” Kendrick added.

Ethical hacking has a five-step process.

  • First, the hacker plans how to hack their target system by studying the technology used by the business or owner and considers the ways into the system;
  • Then the hacker scans the target point to identify potential weak points in the target system;
  • Next, the hacker gains access to the target system by exploiting its vulnerabilities;
  • Once the hacker is in, they maintain access or test to see how persistent they can be and for how long;
  • Lastly, the hacker analyzes the results and puts together a report.

“If you come to the Cyber Center of Excellence, you will actually learn how to crack WiFi. We actually teach those skills. We also teach the ethical side,” Kendrick said. “You shouldn’t be doing this, but this is how an attacker would do it.” 

Cyber Saturdays are hosted on the first Saturday of every month. The next will be held on October 5 at the GCU Cyber Center of Excellence – 5115 N. 27th Ave. Phoenix, Arizona 85017 Bldg. 66.

To learn more, click here.

Emily Richardson

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