Blazing a trail to Oregon for your cyber security studies? We’ve got a full list of programs, plus an introduction to the networks, events and employers that can propel your cyber security career.
Studying Cyber Security in Oregon
Oregon’s community colleges offer most of the state’s certificate and degree programs, with several four-year universities running undergraduate programs as well. Graduate students, meanwhile, may find the portfolios of the state’s top public universities in line with their research interests.
- Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC) is a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, as recognized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA). It’s the only school recognized for its cyber security teaching in the state.
- Students who don’t want to drive three hours up I-5 to Portland can settle in Roseburg instead. Umpqua Community College (UCC) launched its own program that partners with MHCC so that students benefit from its NSA/DHS-vetted curriculum. UCC is also working on a transfer partnership with Oregon Institute of Technology, which rolls out a baccalaureate in cyber security in 2018.
- OIT has laid the groundwork for its new program by spending $1.5 million to build a new Enterprise Technology and Cybersecurity Lab (ETC). The ETC allows students to put their hands on actual devices used in professional settings, including advanced threat detection appliances. In the coming years, the lab will be used for research.
- University of Oregon is the other school in the state officially recognized by the DHS and the NSA — but for its research capabilities. Its Center for Cyber Security and Privacy (CCSP) has all the resources of a top research institution and runs the school’s Network and Security Research Laboratory, which receives regular infusions of National Science Foundation (NSF) money for studies on everything from decentralized social networks to phishing disruption. U of O researchers also won a $1.4 million DHS grant in 2015 to develop new methods to defend against Distributed Denial of Service attacks.
- Four members of Portland State University’s Computer Science department conduct research around computer security. The research group won National Science Foundation (NSF) funding in 2016 and 2017 to host GenCyber camps for high schoolers in Oregon. The group is focused not only on training younger generations but also on improving the college experience. Its leader, Dr. Wu-chang Feng won $300,000 in NSF funding in 2016 to develop software that would make Capture the Flag competitions viable in classroom settings.
- Oregon State University doesn’t have a cyber security program like PSU. But its Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department does support a cyber security research group. The department’s combination of electrical engineering and cyber security experience got it a place on the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium, a group of 11 universities and national laboratories figuring out how to secure and modernize the nation’s electrical grid. The consortium is well-funded, having received a $22 million grant from the Department of Energy.
Online Cyber Security Programs in Oregon
Small liberal arts school Linfield College is surprisingly propping up the state’s distance learning options for cyber security. Below we explore its program:
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
Linfield College offers an online Cyber Security and Digital Forensics certificate. The curriculum is short but provides a broad sampling of the discipline and positions students to take both the Cyber Security Forensic Analyst (CSFA) and Security and Certified Ethical Hacker certification exams. One advantage is the capstone, which allows students to demonstrate the theoretical and technical expertise they’ve gained from the previous four courses.
Cyber Security Scholarships in Oregon
Cyber security scholarships are sparse at Oregon’s colleges, so you’ll have to content yourself with more generic tech scholarships. Here are two:
George Fox University
- Computer Science Scholarship: George Fox does scholarships differently. After applying for admission as a freshman or transfer student, the school may invite you to its scholarship competition in March. You’ll compete for $1,000 to $3,000 against other students in the Computer Science major (both in and outside the Cyber Security concentration) via an essay and an interview. As long as you keep a 2.5 GPA, you’ll also keep your scholarship the next three years.
Portland State University
- Maseeh Fellowship: The Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science partially funds its master’s and doctoral degree students’ studies. If you’re getting your Computer Security Graduate Certificate on the side, as some do, apply for the fellowship.
Cyber Security Events in Oregon
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Oregon
Sorry, Eugene and Salem. All the active cyber security Meetups and communities cluster further up the I-5 in Portland. So if you’re looking to network, that might be where you should go.
- Data Privacy PDX: This group meets once or twice a month to discuss, you guessed it, why data privacy is important. Each meeting features a guest presenter, and anyone can attend — though, you should expect it to get technical. (The group has similar interests to Portland’s Techno-Activism Third Mondays (TA3M), and the groups sometimes hold combined meetings.)
- DC503: The hackers and InfoSec artisans in this DEFCON-aligned group are expected to bring something they’re working on to every meeting. No passive observers. Meetings are held the third Sunday of the month but — in true hacker fashion — you have to dig for the location.
- ISACA Willamette Valley: Plan on having lunch the second Thursday of the month with Portland’s chapter of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). ISACA membership is discounted for students and lets you into those luncheon seminars as well as networking events and certification review courses.
- ISSA Portland: The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) follows a similar format as ISACA: monthly chapter meetings with guest speakers and opportunities for networking. Security professionals and interested students are welcome to join ISSA, the latter at a discount.
- OWASP Portland: Unlike ISACA and ISSA, joining the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is free. The standard format is hearing a presentation or two from local software security experts while gorging on sponsor-provided pizza.
- PDX 2600: The first Friday of the month another group of hackers come together, this time in a more chill environment than DC503 — and with a publicized location: Theo’s on NW 5th Avenue. The emphasis is on food and finding out what other people in the InfoSec world are up to. No presentations.
- RainSec: Those who have been in the information security business for a few years have accumulated some stories to tell. RainSec is where they tell them. It’s all casual — no membership or presentations. All beer and chat.
If none of those groups sounds your style, try Calagator, a searchable calendar of tech events in PDX. You can even create your own group.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Oregon
Get your fill of continuing education and networking in just a couple of days by attending any of these cyber security events:
- BSides PDX: This is the big information security event of the year. It’s so cheap it’s practically free. And it’s festive but big enough to boast Senator Ron Wyden as a keynote in 2016. For two days, you’ll have your choice between multiple tracks featuring talks from provocative thinkers around the Pacific Northwest. You can also skip out for hands-on workshops or Capture the Flag.
- Oregon Cyber Security Day: University of Oregon has been hosting this single-day event since 2015. Attending is free and comes with breakfast and lunch — hard to beat as a student. Listen to speakers from the academic, business and government sectors share their experiences in facing cyber security challenges.
- Oregon Digital Government Summit: Oregon, like all states, is trying to secure its cyber infrastructure. Government officials in technical and nontechnical roles converge for one day in the capital, Salem, to get updates on the threats and learn techniques to thwart them.
- Portland Tech-Security Conference: Convince your boss to let you miss a day of work for this vendor-centric expo. Once there, wander the stalls and hear sponsors explain what their products can do to stymie hackers.
- SecureWorld Portland: Portland is one of 16 U.S. cities SecureWorld comes to each year. Day 1 is dedicated to an in-depth training that costs quite a bit to attend. Day 2 mixes cheaper panel discussions and keynotes along with more exclusive presentations with a higher price tag.
Cyber Security Jobs in Oregon
According to Burning Glass Technologies, the number of Portland cyber security job postings grew faster than all but three other U.S. cities between 2010 and 2014. Yet the state as a whole is having trouble filling those positions. As of 2016, Oregon had the second-lowest supply/demand ratio in the U.S., with just 1.3 cyber security workers for every open unfilled job. Workers with advanced certifications, including the CISSP, CISA and CISM have even more favorable odds because there are way more open positions than certificate holders.
In Oregon, and Portland in particular, you can go big or small. PDX has an excellent tech startup culture, so you might apply with the cryptographers at Tozny, which sponsor the Data Privacy PDX Meetup. But you can also hang with some of the most renowned companies in the world: Nike’s headquarters are just outside of Portland, and the sportswear giant is one of the state’s top-15 employers. Even bigger is Nike’s suburban neighbor, Intel. It employs nearly 20,000 people, making it one of the top three employers in the state. Both companies advertise cyber security openings. Somewhere in the middle of Tozny and Nike are two known quantities on the Cybersecurity 500: The first is Tripwire, which ensures its corporate clients stay compliant with security standards. The second is Tennessee-based Sword & Shield Enterprise Security (host of the EDGE Security Conference), which opened a Portland office in 2017.
Cyber Security Salaries in Oregon
Oregon is in line with national pay standards for cyber security work. Indeed.com reports that IT security specialists command $120,000 a year, with Portlanders earning even more. And according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts in the state made a median rate of $93,750 in 2016 compared to $92,600 nationally. You might think that’s no big deal until you hear that Oregon information security analysts in 2012 were making just under $58,000. That means in four years, the average salary increased over 60 percent! And with plenty of remaining demand for high-skilled cyber security workers, salaries may expand further.
All Cyber Security Programs in Oregon
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 8 Oregon schools.
Chemeketa Community College
George Fox University
Lane Community College
Mt Hood Community College
Portland State University
Umpqua Community College
University of Oregon