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Sen. Schumer Proposes Cyber Training Program

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has announced a program to train New York’s college students to work in the cybersecurity industry.

Speaking at the University at Albany Monday, the Democrat says the school’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity would be the hub of a pilot program to train students to fill nearly 314,000 cybersecurity job openings nationwide, including 15,000 in New York.

“U of Albany would be the hub,” Schumer said. “They would do sort of the high-end, what’s the next phase, how are these bad guys going to hack us and what can we do to protect ourselves ahead of time. That kind of advanced thinking. But at the same time, the spokes that would come out of this would be at the community colleges. Training people to go to companies and other institutions to how to protect themselves against cyber theft – what kind of protection modes are there. And how to deal with cyberhacking when and if it occurs.”

Launched in 2015, UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity has about 2,000 students.

Schumer says the median salary for an information security analyst with a bachelor’s degree is $115,000 a year. The Democrat says under his proposal, $3.7 million in federal funding would go to the SUNY system. The Minority Leader says he already has bipartisan support and intends to tie the legislation to an upcoming appropriations bill.

Schumer pointed to hacks of school and government systems in New York as examples of the dangers of the activity. In March, the city of Albany was the victim of a ransomware attack.

“You may remember that the attack caused issues for Albany’s police force,” Schumer said. “Officers were unable to see what their patrolling needs were. When they were out in the patrol cars, they couldn’t speak either to headquarters or to other police cars that were around the area. They couldn’t speak that is electronically. It crippled other municipal systems for days because the locals were unable to receive birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses. The Syracuse City School District was hacked and had to pay tens of thousands of dollars of ransom to regain access to the system.”

The city of Albany paid about $300,000 to upgrade its systems following the attack. Robert Griffin, the dean of UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, says estimates show the global cost of hacking and cyber attacks will approach $6 trillion annually by 2021. By that summer, UAlbany plans to open its new Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex to house the school’s security programs and serve as the headquarters for Schumer’s pilot program. UAlbany’s Provost Carol Kim says the 246,000-square-foot complex cost $180 million.

“ETEC is the epicenter of UAlbany’s academic, research and business collaborations on climate, security, emergency preparedness, emerging technologies and the environment,” Kim said.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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