Alaska is the northernmost outpost for cyber security education in the U.S. See our list of degrees in the field, or continue reading for a brief overview of cyber security research, events and careers in the state.
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Studying Cyber Security in Alaska
We’ll level with you: There’s not a lot of cyber security education in Alaska, with programs — if not individual courses — restricted to the first two years of undergrad. Here’s what a couple of schools are doing in the field:
- The ASSERT (Advanced System Security Education, Research, and Training) Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks maintains three laboratories for Computer Science students and faculty: a SCADA lab and a digital forensics lab, both of which are on campus, and a remote access lab. UAF researchers at ASSERT are particularly involved in studying honeypots, and ASSERT is a member of the transnational Honeynet Project.
- The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cyber Security Club frequently competes in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, where it came in third in 2014. After winning the “at-large region” for four straight years, the UAF team was bested by the University of Alaska Anchorage Cyber Security Club in 2016 for a place in the national competition.
Online Cyber Security Programs in Alaska
The dearth of colleges in the 49th state in general translates to limited degree and certificate programs in cyber security specifically. However, due to Alaska’s extreme weather, what’s available on campus is usually also placed online. Using the University of Alaska’s complete list of online degrees and certificates as a guide, we found two programs for aspiring cyber security professionals.
Online Associate Degrees in Cyber Security
University of Alaska Fairbanks offers an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology Specialist, which comes with a concentration in Network and Cybersecurity. The AAS program should qualify graduates for entry-level jobs in IT departments, but you’ll need a four-year degree to find security-focused careers.
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
University of Alaska Southeast offers the Healthcare Privacy and Security Certificate, which explores the legal and ethical considerations within the healthcare system, with just a dash of exposure to healthcare-related computer applications. The certificate builds into an associate degree in Health Information Management, but you’ll likely want to use the certificate to supplement a degree with more security coursework.
Cyber Security Events in Alaska
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Alaska
It may be difficult to track down professional groups for networking. Even those that do exist, such as the Anchorage chapter of the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and the Alaska branch of the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), have such small digital footprints that it’s hard to tell how active they are. The following group maintains a more consistent presence:
- (ISC)2 South Central Alaska: (ISC)2 is a worldwide membership organization for cyber security professionals who hold advanced certifications, although it welcomes students. Members of this chapter meet once a month at the Alaska Communications Business Technology Center in Anchorage to network and discuss InfoSec issues.
Since professional communities can sprout from nowhere, you can help develop a scene. University of Alaska students at the Fairbanks and Anchorage campuses can be proactive by joining their respective school’s Cyber Security Club.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Alaska
Thanks to Alaska’s weather and relative isolation, the state lacks the high-profile conferences and workshops of the Lower 48. The following two events are the biggest for cyber security within Alaska:
- At Large Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC): This multi-day event takes place virtually, with UAA and UAF cyber security students competing against schools from Hawaii for a spot in the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition in San Antonio.
- SANS Alaska: While it doesn’t come every year, the SANS Institute stopped in Anchorage for a weeklong intensive training in 2016 and may return. At the inaugural training, attendees had a choice between two courses: one in hacking techniques and the other in industrial cyber security basics.
Cyber Security Jobs in Alaska
Alaska employs the fewest information security analysts of any state, according to 2015 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in part because it has one of the smallest populations. The overwhelming majority of analysts are based in Anchorage, where they might land jobs with telecommunications provider GCI or at a branch office of a federal agency. Cyber security specialists and engineers can look northward to the Fort Greely military installation, where contractors such as Boeing often work.
Cyber Security Salaries in Alaska
One advantage of there being so few jobs in Alaska is that existing positions pay relatively well: nearly $88,000 a year for information security analysts. Top-level earners can pull in around $140,000 annually. Both numbers are just shy of national averages.
All Cyber Security Programs in Alaska
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 2 Alaska schools.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Alaska Southeast