In recent weeks, the ransomware attack that disrupted operations at Colonial Pipeline (one of the nation’s largest pipelines, which carries refined gasoline and jet fuel from Texas up the East Coast to New York) has made headlines and turned national attention toward the need for trained cybersecurity experts. The Colonial hack followed two other high-profile incursions targeting Microsoft’s Exchange email software and the supply chain of SolarWinds. In the wake of the most recent widely publicized breach, the Biden administration has launched an ambitious cybersecurity executive order to counter a wave of massive hacks.
We asked members of the College of Computing & Informatics’ CyberCorps® Mentoring and Scholarship Program to weigh in with their key takeaways from the attack:
- “The recent attack on the pipeline shows how important it is for everyone to take cybersecurity seriously. Computers are used everywhere in some way or another and if they aren't protected, they are vulnerable. The Colonial Pipeline attack should be used as a wakeup call that proves just how devastating a single successful hack can be on an entire nation.”
Andrew Shoffler, BS in Computing & Security Technology, Class of 2023
- “Cyberwarfare is an urgent matter now. As a nation, we have seen the impacts of cyber-attacks infiltrating our government infrastructure time after time so it's refreshing to see a sitting president sign an executive order to improve our cybersecurity posture for the American people. My hope is that if our current commander in chief is leading by example, then commercial and industrial industries across the U.S. will also work to improve better cyber hygiene practices."
Summer Beasley, BS in Computing & Security Technology, Class of 2023
- “In cybersecurity, the target is always moving. Actors will not wait for internal bureaucracy, budgets, or legislation to regulate or approve measures to prevent or minimize the impact of attacks or attempted attacks.”
Maddie Bright, BS Computer Science with Computer Security Concentration, Class of 2023
- “This ransomware attack is both interesting and worrying. It shows just how vulnerable our infrastructure systems are and It's a clear indicator that our infrastructure desperately needs to be improved.”
Erin Santos, BS Computer Science with Computer Security Concentration, Class of 2023
- “In cybersecurity of industrial control systems, I am most fascinated with the interdependencies across general information technology (IT) systems and operational technology (OT) systems (such as gas-pipeline systems). It was interesting to see that although the ransomware did not directly spread from IT to OT systems, it still caused the company to shut down pipeline operations impacting the company's main mission.”
CyberCorps® Faculty Mentor Thomas Heverin, PhD, Associate Teaching Professor and Associate Department Head, Undergraduate Affairs, Information Science
The need for skilled cybersecurity professionals is only going to grow as the world grapples with the continued threat of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure. CCI’s CyberCorps Mentoring and Scholarship Program (CMSP) is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and designed to recruit, train and mentor student scholars to transition into cybersecurity positions within federal, state, local, or tribal government organizations.
CMSP scholars are full-time, face-to-face, undergraduate students in the BS Computing & Security Technology or the BS Computer Science, Computing Security Concentration major.