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The Hoosier State is a worthy destination for a cyber security degree — and a great place to start a career. Look at our list of degrees and certificates, or continue reading our guide to scholarships, online programs, events and communities, and jobs in the state.
Studying Cyber Security in Indiana
Once you know you want a cyber security degree, you’ll need to know where to look. Not only do degrees come in various titles, but they are also offered by schools with varying academic resources and research interests. Here’s a quick overview of what four major players in Indiana are up to in the field:
- Want a good associate degree in cyber security? Ivy Tech, which has campuses across Indiana, is the only two-year college in the state designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. That designation, given by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), also applies to Purdue University Northwest and Indiana University.
- The Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research (CACR) at Indiana University is heavily involved in the field, and the school receives NSA/DHS recognition specifically for its research excellence. CACR helped establish, alongside other midwestern research universities, the Software Assurance Marketplace (SWAMP), which provides secure open-source software. It’s one of four institutional members of the Center for Trustworthy Scientific Cyberinfrastructure (CTSC), a National Science Foundation-funded project that trains researchers of all disciplines on secure computing practices. And it is the lead institution in the $1 million Scientific Workflow Integrity with Pegasus (SWIP) project, which uses cryptography to secure scientific data.
- Purdue University is also recognized by the NSA/DHS for its research excellence and is well-regarded by professionals in the field, who named it the sixth-best school for cyber security in a 2014 HP-funded survey. A notable thing about Purdue is how it incorporates security at all academic levels. Although most students must wait until graduate school to get in on a study, the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) runs a two-month summer research program just for undergrads. Students have many possible areas to explore, but they might choose a Purdue specialty: natural language information assurance and security (NL-IAS). Examples of current NL-IAS projects at Purdue include profiling humor in social engineering applications and scanning the semantics of emails to root out phishing attempts.
- Purdue University Northwest’s Center for Cybersecurity Excellence and Infrastructure Protection has piled up modest grants from the NSF and the NSA over recent years to run GenCyber Summer Camps for high schoolers. But the center also keeps up with research; recent projects include a $300K NSF study on sustainable wireless communication.
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Online Cyber Security Programs in Indiana
You needn’t move to Bloomington or West Lafayette to get a degree. You actually don’t even have to leave your house. Indiana’s main two-year institution, Ivy Tech Community College, offers a range of certificates online plus an associate program. And Purdue and Valparaiso recruit graduate students for their programs. One sour note: If you’re looking for a bachelor’s degree in cyber security, you’re out of luck — at least online.
Online Associate Degrees in Cyber Security
Although Ivy Tech Community College runs an Associate of Applied Science program in Cyber Security/Information Assurance, it’s not quite a beginner’s degree. The school is looking for enrollees with prior exposure to computer classwork (beyond familiarity with Microsoft Word) or professional experience in an IT field.
Online Master’s Degrees in Cyber Security
Purdue University offers its Master of Science in Computer Science online and lets students select an Information Security focus. The program is designed for those who already have a baccalaureate degree in Computer Science or Engineering and are looking for the next rung up on the employment ladder. Be warned, however, that the online degree comes with fewer course options than the on-campus version. Related to that, distance ed students can only pursue the non-thesis option.
A more targeted option is Valparaiso University’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security. It’s a highly technical program, but it’s designed in a way that can accommodate students with or without previous security coursework. That doesn’t mean you can waltz in with a liberal arts degree: The admissions committee selects students who finished undergrad with at least some statistics courses and an undergraduate minor in a computer-related field.
Online Certificate Programs in Cyber Security
Ivy Tech offers a quartet of online information assurance certificates for undergrads: Digital Forensics, Network Penetration, Network Security, and a Technical Certificate in Cyber Security/Information Assurance. Let’s review them one by one.
The Technical Certificate in Cyber Security/Information Assurance is a broad degree composed of 12 courses that should sufficiently introduce you to the subject. Employers, however, like to see professional certifications on entry-level job applications, which is what the other three Ivy Tech certificates provide. The Digital Forensics and Network Penetration certificates are each nine-course concentrations designed to help enrollees earn A+, Network + and Security + certifications from CompTIA and/or become certified ethical hackers. Unlike those two offense-oriented programs, the Network Security concentration emphasizes defense, meaning students will still sit for CompTIA’s professional certifications but will be more prepared for the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician certification than a hacking credential.
Elsewhere, IUPUI’s Network Security Certificate is 50 percent online and is designed to help budding security pros earn their CISSP and Security+ certifications.
Cyber Security Scholarships in Indiana
We’ve scanned departmental scholarships and fellowships for awards most likely to go to cyber security students. Here’s what we found around the state:
Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
- John R. Gibbs Undergraduate Scholarship/Graduate Fellowship for Innovation: One $1,000 scholarship goest to a future innovator or entrepreneur within the School of Informatics and Computing, which houses the Health Information Security certificate. Applicants must hold a 3.5 GPA to be considered.
- School of Informatics and Computing Graduate Assistantship: Work up to 10 hours a week for a faculty member in the School of Informatics and Computing, either by teaching or conducting research, and you’ll shave some zeroes off of your tuition bill.
- Spandana Kommalapati Memorial Scholarship: This $1,000 award is limited to students within the Department of BioHealth Informatics, including seekers of a Health Information Security certificate. To qualify, students must have a 3.2 GPA and show financial need.
- Computer Science Department Assistantship: A 20-hour per week commitment to teach undergraduate courses or conduct research will get you nearly $18,000 in stipends plus tuition remission.
Cyber Security Events in Indiana
Cyber Security Meetups & Communities in Indiana
Most of Indiana’s professional groups are located smack in the center of the state in Indianapolis. Here are six you can join to build your network:
- Central Indiana ISSA Chapter: The Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) is a professional organization that welcomes student members. The group meets monthly over dinner to conduct chapter business, network, and learn from seasoned tech professionals about practical approaches to combating threats.
- Indianapolis 2600 Computer Security/InfoSec Group: The Indianapolis 2600 meeting is just one of hundreds of such events for hackers happening across the world from 5:00 to 8:00 every first Friday of the month. Everyone is welcome, even if they can’t spell cyber let alone explain it. Evansville and West Lafayette also have their own 2600 meetings during the same time.
- Indianapolis IAM User Group: Identity and access management is the rallying cry of this free group, which meets quarterly over drinks and appetizers for presentations on best practices.
- Indianapolis OWASP Chapter: The state’s lone wing of the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) meets two to four times a year to hear presentations from local experts.
- IndySec: IndySec takes the same laid back approach of 2600 and applies it to security professionals. Most meetings are just social — a chance to meet at a local brewery and informally network — but occasionally they’ll feature presentations.
- Secure Indy: The only agenda that members of Secure Indy have is to socialize around a shared interest in InfoSec. The group comes together every second Friday of the month at Tomlinson Tap Room.
Cyber Security Conferences & Workshops in Indiana
Indiana’s research universities keep an active calendar of events around cyber security, and local professionals also work hard to plan annual functions for peers and colleagues. Here are five of the most important events of the year:
- BSides Indy: Pretty much everyone from the groups in the above section attend this cheap, locally organized conference. The first full day is dedicated to hacking workshops, while Day 2 allows participants to jump between intriguing presentations in the main room and a lock pick village and Capture the Flag competition in adjacent rooms.
- CACR Cybersecurity Summit: Indiana University’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research (CACR) has hosted an annual summit since 2010. CACR staff moderate a day of panel discussions around a common theme with representatives from the government, academia, business and the nonprofit sector.
- CERIAS Information Security Symposium: Since 2001, Purdue University’s Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) has set aside two days for talks and panel discussions featuring the center’s faculty as well as expert guests.
- CircleCityCon: CircleCityCon is a three-day event that keeps it interesting every year, mixing trainings and talks on everything from the basic (e.g., exploiting Windows vulnerability) to the advanced (e.g., hacking a car). You’ll probably want to stay at the conference hotel in downtown Indy to maximize your networking potential and easily get into the entertainment events.
- Indianapolis Tech-Security Conference: The main attractions at this conference are the exhibitors. Wander the booths in between watching software demonstrations from the event’s sponsors.
Cyber Security Jobs in Indiana
The concentration of cyber security jobs in Indiana is about half the national average. That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of positions to be filled; in fact, Cyber Seek found over 3,500 listings between July 2015 and June 2016 alone. Jobseekers holding a career advancing certification such as CISSP or CISA are in particular demand.
Let’s take a quick tour of the types of companies in Indiana looking for such workers. North of Circle City, Proofpoint is a global security-as-a-service consulting firm for businesses and a constant fixture near the top of the Cybersecurity 500 list. The California-based company has four major U.S. offices, including one in Carmel. South of the city, Cummins, Inc. makes engines and generators. The Fortune 500 company regularly adds cyber security pros to its Columbus workforce. Fellow Fortune 500 denizen Anthem is a big time health insurer based in Indy with a need for security analysts. Also in Indianapolis, the Kinney Group is focused on moving its clients over to secure cloud computing. Intriguingly, many of its jobs require security clearance. Finally, the auditors at Pricewaterhouse Coopers have a lot of client data to keep track off, and the cyber security pros at their Indianapolis office help them do that.
Cyber Security Salaries in Indiana
Indiana’s cyber security salaries are competitive. Although Hoosiers in the field earn less than their Illinoisan or Ohioan counterparts, they also enjoy a significantly lower cost of living. In fact, Indiana is the second-cheapest state to live in, which makes the $76,000 salary for an information security analyst (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) look fantastic. That figure is corroborated by CBRE Research, which found that the average tech worker of any stripe in Indianapolis made $76,000 in 2016. Indeed.com also compiles its own figures using a variety of job titles. Hoosier State IT security specialists, which can include managers and those higher up the corporate ladder, hit the national average at $110,000 in 2017.
All Cyber Security Programs in Indiana
Below are all the matching programs we found in our directory, from 8 Indiana schools.
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