SJSU SLIS Students Learn to Combat Information Security Threats during New Cybersecurity Course


SJSU SLIS students learn to combat information security threats during a new Cybersecurity course, offered for the first time in fall 2013.

Every day, information professionals are entrusted with private and often sensitive information, all of which can be easily infiltrated with the click of a mouse and a few keyboard strokes.

Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca

Dr. Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca, who recently joined the San José State University School of Library and Information Science, hopes to train information professionals to combat these security threats in a new Cybersecurity course, which was offered for the first time during fall 2013 to students enrolled in the school’s Master of Library and Information Science program. 

With six years of industry experience in information security, as well as a PhD in Information Systems and Technology, San Nicolas-Rocca provides her students with the chance to learn about information security and how to mitigate cyber attacks. 

The Cybersecurity course aims to equip future information professionals with the tools and skills necessary to maintain secure networks and keep them safe from outside threats. During the fully online graduate course, students learn about information systems security fundamentals, typical risks, threats and vulnerabilities, and the countermeasures used to mitigate them.

Part of the course takes students to a virtual security cloud lab, where they can explore the tools and systems used by cybersecurity specialists.

Michelle Poulton, a current SJSU SLIS student who enrolled in the Cybersecurity course, especially enjoyed these virtual labs. “It’s great to log on to virtual servers and configure security settings to see what happens when you change them,” said Poulton. “It’s also interesting to practice different scenarios with a virtual computer lab. We scanned for viruses after infecting a server, we ‘sniffed’ packets on the virtual network to look for vulnerabilities, we set user access and group policy on servers, and we practiced encrypting files.”

Poulton’s classmate, Benjamin Hansen, agrees. He, too, enjoyed the virtual labs where he could test his skills.

Hansen cites the growing need for information professionals to be proficient in cybersecurity. He sees a demand for these skills in the future job market and for “anyone who works with computers.”

San Nicolas-Rocca created her course to provide a general study of cybersecurity, with an emphasis on libraries. One assigned project has students perform risk assessments on libraries and develop countermeasures to prevent cybersecurity attacks. However, students who take the course will be prepared to use their new skills in any organization.    

It is San Nicolas-Rocca’s hope that “students understand their role in ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information and information resources that they have been entrusted with.”

The Cybersecurity course will be offered again in the spring 2014 semester.

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