Cyber security attacks and misuse of social media data have become a rapidly increasing threat among corporations, financial companies, educational institutions, individuals – and even presidential campaigns. That makes the need for experts in information security one of the fastest growing jobs in the United States, and led to the creation of an MBA concentration in cyber security management at Brenau University.
Elainey Monique Jones from Winder, Georgia, a business analyst at the Chamblee-based IT consulting firm Experient Group, is the first student to enroll in the program. She began classes in the summer of 2017 for a general MBA, but switched to the cyber security specialty when it became available. She is on track to finish the program in December.
“Security is a growing field, so I hope to expand my knowledge of information systems as a whole,” she said. “I plan on getting some more experience with this degree, trying to explore how to make computers and systems more secure for users.”
Jones’ employer helps businesses with technology needs from front- and back-end development, website building, user interface and more. She works with Chick-fil-A’s Customer Technology Solutions team to help support their mobile app, which includes assisting customers with mobile pay and ordering issues, identity issues and general troubleshooting issues that they may encounter while using the app.
“I fell in love with the identity side of things at my job, which influenced my decision to major in cyber security,” Jones said. “I realized that is very important to make sure a customer’s information is secure in the best way possible when they are utilizing a tool that is an extension of a nationally known brand.”
She hopes by earning an MBA and gaining more experience in cyber security that she can pursue a career position that is more directly centered around protecting customer information and company data.
She received her undergraduate degree in business information systems from Kennesaw State University in 2015, where she was also the vice president of Women in Technology, a premier professional association for women in the technology industry.
When she started looking into Georgia colleges that offered an MBA program in information security, a friend of hers who was a recent Brenau graduate advised her to look into the Gainesville-based university’s new program.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that this field will grow 28 percent by 2026, faster than the average of any other occupation, yet the Information Systems Audit and Control Association foresees the possibility of a global shortage of such professionals by 2019.
You don’t have to look beyond the daily headlines in world news to understand why that is the case. For example, news reports from the Atlanta area covered stories about a March 22 ransomware attack that brought down Atlanta city government networks, the 2017-18 hacker attacks that exposed data of 143 million Americans from the Atlanta-based credit reporting agency Equifax, and a pair of technology glitches in Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines’ data security system that cost the company more than $100 million in 2016-17. On top of that, there is the ongoing news about past and possibly future Russian hacker attacks on the technology-driven voting systems of cities, states and counties all over the country and improper collection and manipulation of personal data from millions of Americans to affect voter behavior in the 2016 presidential election.
The MBA concentration, initiated at Brenau in 2016, is designed to develop students’ knowledge, abilities and competence to recognize, evaluate, protect and manage the data in an organization. The program can be completed in four semesters, and is primarily aimed at managers that interface with programmers doing cybersecurity for companies or for the military.
“We developed the program with an eye toward our campuses in Augusta and Jacksonville, cities that both have large military cybersecurity operations,” said Dr. Suzanne Erickson, dean of the College of Business & Mass Communication. “Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that the global market for cybersecurity will surpass $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021.”
Chip Andrews, Brenau’s chief information officer, helped develop the new program, and adjunct professor Ron Davis Jr. helped develop the core courses, which include principles of information assurance, computer network security and disaster recovery and business continuity.
“These were the courses we felt would give the person the best overview of the cybersecurity domain and allow them to effectively manage IT security staff,” said Andrews.
“With my current work, I see how important security is,” Jones said. “During my undergraduate studies, I realized how security is something we should all be aware of as computer users, and I wanted to see what I could do in this field.”
Materials by Brenau University. Original article “Cyber security MBA meets fast-growing demand for protecting data“ by Alison Reeger Cook appeared May 14, 2018. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.