October 7, 2014

BY JOHN D. HOMAN
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE – As many as 10 John A. Logan College students will soon be participating in Cybersecurity competitions against students from other colleges in the Midwest this fall and next spring thanks to special project funding through the college’s Foundation office.

Fifteen laptop computers and cases totaling more than $17,000 were purchased altogether.

“The JALC Foundation is much more than the providing of scholarships,” said Staci Shafer, executive director for the Foundation. “We are here to make a difference in the lives of our students. And because of the support from our generous donors, we are able to fund projects like this one. The Foundation Board of Directors is committed to helping improve the college experience for as many students as possible, whether it be through scholarships or Foundation grants.”

Shafer said the college’s payroll deduction plan is a good example how available monies are being put to use on campus, along with private donations.

“The Foundation has recently established a special projects endowment of over $630,000,” she said. “A committee made up of Foundation board members, faculty, and staff is currently working to set up an application process and additional Foundation grants will be awarded.  Priority will be given to projects that focus on improving student success.” 

Computer Information Systems instructor Mark Rogers is coaching JALC’s Cybersecurity team.

“Having these computers allows us to create virtual machines and practice offensive and defensive strategies that we can deploy in competition,” he said. “Cybersecurity is about learning ways to best prevent Cybercrime or the stealing of data from a computer system, which can lead to identity theft. In recent months, we’ve heard about a breakdown in Cybersecurity that led to the confiscation of customer passwords at Target, Home Depot, Google, and T.J. Maxx among others. At these competitions, a team of local experts is brought in to try and break into and disrupt the student’s network. The goal is to be able to prevent a disruption while maintaining the day-to-day operations of the network.”

Rogers said Cybersecurity is trending upward with college students.

“I get emails every day from kids wanting to learn more about this program. We currently have eight members on our competition team with plans to add two more. I can’t thank the administration and JALC Foundation enough for their support. They recognize the importance of protecting ourselves from Cybercrime and thus the need for competitions like the ones we will soon be joining. Many of our students are computer networking or computer forensics majors. These competitions are an opportunity for them to sharpen their security skills.”