Student at a computer

Student finds excitement in growing cybersecurity field

Innovation is fueling technological growth and change at a rapid speed, however many information systems and security processes have not kept pace. Identifying, solving and proactively combating issues is what cybersecurity student Brent Harmor finds exciting.

“It’s cutting edge,” Brent said. “It’s one of the most vulnerable aspects of business since it’s just starting to gain traction. It reminds me of an emerging market. A lot of cybersecurity is untraceable – there are all these systems and infrastructure – and now people who exploit systems see we left gaping holes, so we’re playing catch up. It’s like the old-time Wild West, all these things and very little policing.”

He sees the field as an area where a new professional can have influence on an organization.

“The business world is already tracked out, there are multiple philosophies, but cybersecurity is new and somewhere that a person who studies and does due diligence can come in and make changes with major consequences,” Brent said. “You can have an effect.”

Gaining real-world experience in cybersecurity

Brent Harmor

Brent Harmor

Brent will soon graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. While enrolled in the program, he completed a cybersecurity internship and has already accepted a full-time job with King County.

“Throughout the past year, on a week-by-week basis, I would read a theory in a class and think, ‘great theory,’ and then I’d go to a meeting and hear the exact same words and terminology,” Brent said. “So what I was doing in coursework was being directly applied. They’re not just academic theories, these principles are getting used in an IT department currently.”

In his new position, Brent will be helping institute changes that will have a long-term effect on the security of the county’s information systems.

“I’m going to be implementing multi-factor authentication, helping implement new virtual training, and working with our network, vendors, and contractors county-wide,” Brent said. “I’ll also be helping with compliance – HIPPA compliance, criminal justice information systems, payment processing – making sure we as a county are following procedures to be in compliance.”

Another aspect of his position will be proactively testing systems to identify and solve problems before they occur.

“Information assurance isn’t a simply a technical field, it’s not necessarily fingers on keyboards, it’s analytics and research and testing,” Brent said. “Computer systems don’t always talk to each other, so to perform due diligence, we have to test rigorously on multiple systems. We conduct penetration tests where we hire hackers to see if they can get in, and take their reports and fix vulnerabilities. Every network has vulnerabilities – hackers just have to find one they can use.”

Studying cybersecurity at CityU

After completing his service with the Air Force, Brent considered studying information security at another institution. However, after learning about CityU’s cybersecurity curriculum and program flexibility he chose it instead, and is glad he did.

“After my first quarter and the cybercrime class, there was nothing else I wanted to do,” Brent said. “Day one of that class, Dr. Sainato asked what we were interested in and adjusted some of the curriculum to fit our interests and needs, but still kept the integrity of the class. He found case studies to support our interests in cybercrime, and after that I was hooked.”

The attentiveness he saw demonstrated in that class was mirrored in his experiences with other faculty.

“The faculty here truly care, you’re not just some student to them,” Brent said. “They’re not just processing paperwork because it’s their job. They’re investing in the students and the program.”

Brent now shares that same passion for the field.

“I like making things work and fixing things, and cybersecurity is a new way of doing that,” Brent said. “If you do what you like, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Learn about the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance online or by requesting more information.