SANS offering security, management master’s degrees

The SANS Institute now offers two master’s degree programs to provide advanced engineering and management training to information technology security professionals, institute officials announced today.

The institute, a training and education organization for security professionals, started its SANS Technical Institute to better defend the country’s IT systems from more disciplined and destructive cyberattacks, said Alan Paller, director of research at SANS, in a teleconference.

Most U.S. computer systems are not adequately defended, and people responsible for information security need better engineering, security and management training to change that, Paller said.

“If we don’t create an environment where technical people have to learn management skills, they will never deserve a seat at the table,” Paller said. “If security doesn’t have a seat at the table, security loses.”

Creating stringently defined degrees will also help technical people to persuade those with masters of business administration, lawyers and other degreed professionals to take information security more seriously as a profession, Paller said.

The programs will improve oral and written communications skills because information security professionals must know how to persuade people to take cybersecurity threats seriously, said Stephen Northcutt, president of the new institution, which is accredited in Maryland.

The writing-intensive programs will train graduates to communicate on a nontechnical level with executives and on a technical level with systems administrators and other staff below them, Northcutt said.

The SANS Technical Institute will also teach students how to research threats and how to teach their knowledge to others, said Northcutt and Johannes Ullrich, chief research officer at SANS and dean of the faculty at the SANS Technical Institute. Students will also aim to publish academic research papers in professional journals, Northcutt said.

The Technical Institute, which opened Nov. 16, offers two master’s degrees. The first, the master’s of science in information-security engineering, helps information-security managers, team leaders and administrators. Students learn technical and problem-solving skills, program management and communications skills.

The second degree, the master’s of science in information-security management, assists top-level information-security managers -- chief information security officers, chief security officers and similar positions. Students get special training in teamwork and oral presentation.

The SANS Technical Institute can handle several hundred students at a time, Northcutt said. Students must have substantial experience and their employers must state that they are grooming the students for management positions, Paller said.

The degrees cost about the same as equivalent degrees at other institutions, between $25,000 to $30,000 a year, Paller said.

More information about the degree programs is available at www.sans.edu.

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