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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Students at Mt. SAC, Cal Poly learning to be cyberwarriors in war against international online threats by Steve Scauzillo

The U.S. Department of Defense recently opened a fifth domain for war, after land, air, sea, and space: cyberspace.


President Barack Obama even appointed a Microsoft security specialist, Howard Schmidt, to be his cyber-security czar and gave the Pentagon the power to attack other countries' computers, if necessary.

Locally, students and faculty at Cal Poly Pomona and Mt. San Antonio College are responding to the commander-in-chief's call and are ready to enlist in Obama's cyber army. In addition to learning how to combat cyber-terrorists, students are also being trained to jump into one of the few growing job markets of today - the field of information assurance.

Biography for Jaishri Mehta
Inhabiting this cyber-war bunker is Jaishri Mehta, professor of computer information and co-principal investigator and executive director of CyberWatch West, an educational website for students to play virtual games and conduct cyber security experiments.
In addition to Mt. SAC, the CyberWatch West consortium includes: California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; California State University, Dominquez Hills; California State University, San Bernardino; and Whatcom Community College in Washington.

To Mehta, and also to the Obama administration, the threat of a cyber attack from Iran, China or al-Qaida is all too real.

"The biggest war that will be fought is the virtual war," she said. "Because it is expensive for someone to get a fighter jet and kill 200 people. It is easier to get 10 professionals to attack the Pentagon's computers. I would have everything at my fingertips ... and I could destroy everything... and I don't even have to lift a gun."

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, information assurance and computer networking represents the second-fastest growing segment of the jobs market. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these jobs will increase by 30 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Source: Pasadena Star-News