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By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach State College making strides in cyber; ranks in National Cyber League competition

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The National Cyber League concluded the Spring 2024 NCL Competition with participation from 8,017 students and 737 high schools, colleges, and universities from all over the United States and Palm Beach State College ranked 42nd in the competition. 

Established in 2011 by an alliance of public agencies dedicated to developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, the National Cyber League is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization aiming to help students develop, practice and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills. The NCL Competition, powered by Cyber Skyline, is a biannual event that enables students to prepare and test themselves against practical cybersecurity challenges that they will likely face in the workforce, such as identifying hackers from forensic data, pentesting and auditing vulnerable websites, recovering from ransomware attacks, and additional cyber skill sets.

Founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State College has been an integral player in the growth and prosperity of Palm Beach County. Our graduates impact every industry and are community and business leaders. With more than 130 programs of study, PBSC offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Nearly 36,000 students enroll annually in onsite, online, live online and hybrid classes at five convenient locations in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves and Palm Beach Gardens, and through PBSC Online.

“We’re thrilled to announce that Palm Beach State College has made a remarkable impact in the Spring 2024 Cyber Power Rankings,” stated John Hadley, District Dean of Business & Computer Science at Palm Beach State College.

“Palm Beach State College’s outstanding performance in these rigorous challenges highlights our commitment to excellence in cybersecurity education and training. We are proud of our students’ dedication, hard work, and achievements.”

The Cyber Power Rankings were created by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the National Cyber League (NCL). Every year, over 10,000 students from more than 500 colleges & universities and 100 high schools across the US participate in the NCL competitions. These rankings represent the ability of students from these schools to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks on the Cyber Skyline platform. Students had to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest & audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students.

Cyber students at Palm Beach State ranked 42th nationally and 18th among eastern colleges for the Spring 2024 competetion. This rank is an improvement from the Fall 2023 seaon when they ranked 57th nationally. This current ranking makes Palm Beach State the Cyber Power Rankings leader among the South Florida colleges.

From a Cyber Pathways Grant to the Cyber Symposium hosted at Palm Beach State’s Lake Worth campus, the college has been stepping it up and making a name for themselves for cybersecurity education in South Florida. The symposium was the latest initiative from PBSC’s growing push into cybersecurity.

In 2023, The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have named Palm Beach State College a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense through 2027. The CAE Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions that offer quality cybersecurity-related degrees and/or certificates and meet rigorous requirements to prepare students for the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

Currently, in PBSC’s Center for Cyber Defense, students are offered a two-year associate degree upon which they can then follow with another two-year program to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Information Management with a concentration in Security and Network Assurance. In Fall 2024, PBSC will expand its existing cybersecurity program with new degrees in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.  “Nationally, we’re having conversations on a skills gap in the field of cybersecurity, said PBSC’s John Hadley. “Our job in admissions is to fill those gaps.”

Additionally, students that participate in the NCL receive valuable performance data through individualized Scouting Reports, which aligns their experience to industry certifications and government standards. With these reports, they are able to showcase tangible evidence of their technical skills to employers.

“NCL is one of the most important venues to reinforce classroom learning,” said NCL Coach and Cybersecurity Instructor at the United States Military AcademyMax Love. “In a traditional classroom setting with slides, lectures, and practical exercises, students can lose focus on the spark of curiosity that drove them to learn more about this field. In the heat of competition, they can find that spark again and suddenly the lessons of the classroom carry a whole new meaning when it helps them overcome the challenge right in front of them.”

Registration for the Fall 2024 NCL Competition is open from Aug. 19 to Oct. 11. The cost to participate is $35, with late registration from Oct. 12 to 15 and a cost increase to $45.

To get more info or join the next competition, visit https://nationalcyberleague.org/competition

By Nikki Cabus

Miami Dade College Becomes the First Florida College with Two Cybersecurity Programs Validated by the NSA

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Miami Dade College announced it has become the first institute in Florida to offer both associate and bachelor’s degree programs in cybersecurity after receiving its second validation from the NSA.

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a U.S. Department of Defense combat support agency and member of the U.S. Intelligence Community leading the U.S. Government in cryptology that encompasses both signals intelligence (SIGINT) insights and cybersecurity products and services, and enables computer network operations to gain a decisive advantage for the nation and allies.

At the 2nd annual South Florida Tech Hub Higher Education Conference held at MDC Wolfson Campus, College officials announced the NSA validation for the Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity through 2029, the highest standard of quality for a cybersecurity degree in the nation. MDC received NSA validation in 2022 for the Associate of Science in Cybersecurity.

“We are honored to receive this prestigious recognition from the National Security Agency,” said MDC President Madeline Pumariega.

“It underscores our commitment to expanding our cybersecurity program, solidifying the College’s position as a leader in talent development for the future workforce. We couldn’t do this without the unwavering support of our world-class faculty, esteemed partners, and industry-leading advisors.”

The distinction acknowledges MDC’s rigorous cybersecurity curriculum standards and academic delivery excellence from faculty to equip students with expert knowledge and skills to protect and defend against the cyber threat landscape. According to a letter from the NSA, the college’s ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure. The NSA’s National Cyber Strategy addresses the critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills and highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace.

This news is a welcome addition to MDC’s prestigious designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by NSA for its impressive cybersecurity curriculum. With this recent validation, students who complete MDC’s bachelor’s in cybersecurity receive explicit recognition in their transcripts. They are also eligible to apply for grants, training and scholarships from NSA and other federal partners.

With Miami Dade College (MDC) being the most diverse institution in the nation, with 167 nations and 63 languages represented in its student body, the College changes lives through accessible, high-quality teaching and learning experiences. MDC’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer over 300 distinct degree pathways, including associate and baccalaureate degrees, certifications and apprenticeships. MDC has admitted more than 2.5 million students and counting, since it opened its doors in 1960 and approximately 120,000 students are currently enrolled.

“This achievement underscores our commitment to excellence in cybersecurity education and solidifies our leadership in talent development for the future workforce,” shared Antonio Delgado, MDC’s VP of Innovation & Technology Partnerships.

“With this validation, our students gain explicit recognition on their transcripts and are eligible for internships, training and scholarships from NSA and other federal partners.”

For more information about MDC’s ‘Cybersecurity Center of the Americas’ programs, visit www.mdc.edu/cybersecurity.

 

By Nikki Cabus

Miami Dade College’s Cybersecurity Program and Faculty Recognized Among the Top in the Nation by EC-Council

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Miami Dade College’s (MDC) acclaimed Cybersecurity program and Professor Dr. Diego Tibaquirá were recently recognized by the EC-Council Academia for making a lasting impact on cybersecurity education and student success. 

EC-Council is the leading IT and e-Business certification awarding body and the creator of the world famous Certified Ethical Hacker (#CEH), Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) and Certified Penetration Testing Professional (CPENT)/ Licensed Penetration Tester (Master). The organization has trained over 80,000 individuals and certified more than 30,000 security professionals from such fine organizations as the US Army, the FBI, Microsoft, IBM and the United Nations.

EC-Council’s certifications are recognized worldwide and have received endorsements from various government agencies including the US Federal Government via the GI Bill, National Security Agency (NSA) and the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS). The United States Department of Defense has included the CEH program into its Directive 8570, making it as one of the mandatory standards to be achieved by Computer Network Defenders Service Providers (CND-SP).

The EC-Council Academia division supports K-12, community college and university programs by providing state-of-the-art cybersecurity technologies and opportunities to obtain globally respected industry certifications. Students graduate from these programs with the necessary skills to protect digital assets, helping to address the workforce gap, estimated to be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions in 2025.

Miami Dade College was among only five colleges and universities chosen for the 2023 Academia Circle of Excellence Award from nearly 2,000 higher education institutions across North America. 

The Cybersecurity Center of the Americas at Miami Dade College is transforming cybersecurity education by integrating the advanced hands-on training needed to be a cybersecurity professional. MDC’s comprehensive cybersecurity curriculum includes an Associate in Science, a Bachelor of Science and certifications.

MDC has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA) for Academic Years 2022-2027. These programs are offered through MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology (EnTec).

Dr. Diego Tibaquira, former United States Marine Corps and Professor of Computer Science at MDC’s Padrón Campus has been instrumental in building the cybersecurity and cloud computing curriculum at MDC. He was one of only four recipients of the Academia Instructor Circle of Excellence Award by EC-Council Academia. Dr. Tibaquira was selected from approximately 1,000 EC-Council-partnered institutions in North America. Award recipients are selected based on their impact on teaching, assessment of their instruction, student experiences, leadership and engagement with the cybersecurity community.

“What a great Honor to be selected for the “2023 Academic Instructor Circle of Excellence,” Dr. Tibaquira wrote in a social media post.

“Thank you to all my colleagues at Miami Dade College for their support and EC-Council for this Honor. To my mentors and role models Malou C. Harrison, PhD and Antonio Delgado Fornaguera for continuing to show me how to keep striving to do more for our students and community. To President Madeline Pumariega for her vision and allowing Innovation and ideas to take shape to help our College move forward. To my Deans who provide me with the support (100%) to go and do my job in the best ways possible: Niurka “Niki” Goenaga and Manny Perez.”

He concluded, “To my students who keep taking advantage of each and every opportunity the college brings to keep advancing, growing, progressing, and building our Miami Dade College Community and Community at large.”

MDC is the recipient of many top national awards, including the prestigious Aspen Prize. MDC has been recognized among the nation’s “Great Colleges to Work For” since the program’s inception. The College serves as an economic, cultural and civic leader for the advancement of our diverse global community. MDC alumni and employees contribute more than $3 billion annually to the local economy, and graduates occupy top leadership positions in every major industry. MDC has admitted more than 2.5 million students and counting, since it opened its doors in 1960. Approximately 120,000 students are currently enrolled. For more information, visit www.mdc.edu.

Learn more about MDC’s Cybersecurity programs, visit www.mdc.edu/cybersecurity/degree-programs.

By Nikki Cabus

IBM to grant $5M to schools to boost cybersecurity & AI skills

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In response to the growing threat of ransomware attacks against schools around the world, IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced it will provide in-kind grants valued at $5 million to help address cybersecurity resiliency in schools. The deadline to apply is June 23, 2023.

Since its creation in 2021, the IBM Education Security Preparedness Grants program has expanded globally, and this year will also include enhanced offerings from IBM SkillsBuild on topics including AI and cybersecurity.

Ransomware is unfolding faster than ever, with attackers managing to cut down the time required to deploy ransomware attacks from over two months to just under four days between 2019 and 2021, according to IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2023. In fact, the share of cybersecurity incidents observed in the education sector more than doubled in 2022 compared to the year prior, experiencing the largest increase year over year than any other industry.

“Time and time again attackers go after the education sector, yet many of these institutions remain constrained in their security resources,” said Andy Piazza, Global Head of Threat Intelligence, IBM Security X-Force. “To date, this program has helped more than 350,000 students across schools in the US and abroad, with IBM Service Corps helping them recover from ransomware attacks, strengthen their security posture against future attacks, and prevent further disruption.”

Applications for schools are now open globally. Grants valued at $500,000 each ($5 million in total) will be awarded to six school districts in the US with an additional four around the world. Volunteers, through IBM Service Corps, will use their professional skills to help schools establish programs to address cybersecurity resiliency. Hear more from Andy here.

Each selected school will receive:

  • incident response plans and ransomware playbooks,
  • programs to help address the need for updating operating systems,
  • strategic communication plans to use in response to cyber incidents, and
  • training and digital credentials through IBM SkillsBuild on topics including AI and cybersecurity, and additional benefits such as enhanced access to IBM mentors, teacher training and toolkits, and customized learning pathways.

“The global skills gap across cybersecurity and AI is a growing challenge that demands immediate attention,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM Chief Impact Officer. “To address this challenge, IBM awards Education Security Preparedness Grants to drive impact with schools worldwide. This year, we’re excited to expand the program to bring the benefits of IBM SkillsBuild training on topics like AI and cybersecurity for students and teachers.”

Robert Losinski, Manager of Information Security at Denver Public Schools, stated that “With IBM’s assistance, we improved our cybersecurity incident response plan and used it to better prepare us for handling incidents in the future.” He continued , “Attackers are targeting schools because many do not have mature security frameworks to effectively defend against ransomware and other cybercrime. Getting professional assistance in expanding your cybersecurity program will really help you identify the most critical areas to protect.”

Since its inception in 2021, IBM has received hundreds of applications for this award-winning program from school districts seeking to strengthen their security postures in response to the growing threats in the education space. Past recipients of the IBM Education Security Preparedness Grants have encouraged other schools to apply.

The 2022 and 2021 Grantees included:

  • Brevard Public Schools in Viera, FL
  • City of Dublin Educational Training Board in Ireland
  • Cupertino Union School District in Sunnyvale, CA
  • Denver Public Schools in Denver, CO
  • East China School District in East China, MI
  • Goffstown School District in Goffstown, NH
  • KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools in Atlanta, GA
  • Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence in United Arab Emirates
  • Newburgh Enlarged City School District in Newburgh, NY
  • Newhall School District in Valencia, CA
  • Poughkeepsie City School District in Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Prince William Country Public Schools in Manassas, VA
  • Rossville Cons. School District in Rossville, IN
  • Sheldon Independent School District in Houston, TX

Awards were allocated based on cybersecurity needs, experiences, community resources, and potential risks.

K-12 public schools and educational institutions/organizations that are interested in applying for IBM’s education cybersecurity grant can apply via IBM.com here: https://www.ibm.com/impact/initiatives/security.

For more information about IBM’s cybersecurity grants for schools, visit: https://www.ibm.com/impact/initiatives/security.

For more information about IBM Security X-Force’s services and capabilities, visit: https://www.ibm.com/security/xforce.

The 2023 grant cycle is now open. Apply by June 23, 2023 to receive one of ten available grants.

By Nikki Cabus

Governor Ron DeSantis Appoints Christine Vanderpool to the Florida Cybersecurity Advisory Council

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Just last month, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the appointment of Palm Beach County’s Christine Vanderpool to the Florida Cybersecurity Advisory Council. 

Christine Vanderpool is the Vice President of IT Strategy, Architecture and Chief Information Security Officer for Florida Crystals Corporation.

Florida Crystals Corporation is a fully integrated cane sugar and agriculture company in Palm Beach County. Florida Crystals’ subsidiary, ASR Group, jointly owned with Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, is the world’s largest cane sugar refining and marketing company, with refineries in Louisiana, California, New York, Maryland, Canada, Mexico, England, Portugal and, with a joint venture partner, Italy. Its products are marketed through its brand portfolio: Florida Crystals®, Domino®, C&H®, Redpath®, Tate & Lyle® and Sidul®. Florida Crystals’ FCI Residential subsidiary develops, constructs and manages luxury multi-family communities in urban and infill areas.

Vanderpool is also a current Board Member of the South Florida Tech Hub and serves as Chair of the Evanta Chief Information Security Officer Florida Governing Body. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of New Mexico. Christine was also named the 2019 Cyber Security Woman Leader of the Year and the 2020 recipient of Global Technology Executives Who Matter Award.

Vanderpool simply stated that she is “deeply honored and excited to be appointed to the council.”

Passed during the 2021 Regular Legislative session of the Florida Legislature, the Cybersecurity Advisory Council was established. According to Cyber Florida, “the Council is tasked with helping state agencies protect their information technology resources from cyber threats and incidents by assisting the Department of Management Services in establishing and implementing cybersecurity best practices.” Seven individuals were appointed to the original task force in 2021.

Other members of the Florida Cybersecurity Advisory Council include:

  • Mike McConnell, VADM, USN, Ret., Cyber Florida Executive Director and former director of US National Intelligence and the National Security Agency
  • Jaromy Kuhl – Professor and Dean, University of West Florida
  • Pedro Allende – Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure, Risk and Resilience Policy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Linda Reid – Vice President of Security, Walt Disney Company
  • Eli Dominitz – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Q6 Cyber
  • Jason Raymond – Vice President and Chief Information Security Officer, GuideWell and Florida Blue
  • Benjamin Miron – Vice President of Infrastructure and Cybersecurity, NextEra Energy

The council shall be comprised of the following members:

  • The Lieutenant Governor or his or her designee.
  • The state chief information officer.
  • The state chief information security officer.
  • The director of the Division of Emergency Management or his or her designee.
  • A representative of the computer crime center of the Department of Law Enforcement, appointed by the executive director of the Department of Law Enforcement.
  • A representative of the Florida Fusion Center of the Department of Law Enforcement, appointed by the executive director of the Department of Law Enforcement.
  • The Chief Inspector General.
  • A representative from the Public Service Commission.
  • Up to two representatives from institutions of higher education located in this state, appointed by the Governor.
  • Three representatives from critical infrastructure sectors, one of whom must be from a water treatment facility, appointed by the Governor.
  • Four representatives of the private sector with senior level experience in cybersecurity or software engineering from within the finance, energy, health care, and transportation sectors, appointed by the Governor.
  • Two representatives with expertise on emerging technology, with one appointed by the President of the Senate and one appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

In a recent Online Sunshine article, it was written that “Beginning June 30, 2022, and each June 30 thereafter, the council shall submit to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives any legislative recommendations considered necessary by the council to address cybersecurity. Beginning December 1, 2022, and each December 1 thereafter, the council shall submit to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a comprehensive report that includes data, trends, analysis, findings, and recommendations for state and local action regarding ransomware incidents.”

 

By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach State College Designation as a Center For Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense

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Palm Beach State College recently announced was approved as a designated Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD).

The CAE-CD program focuses on providing a cybersecurity workforce to meet the needs of the nation, government, industry, and academia. Complementary in nature, the CAE-CD program focuses on technologies and techniques related to specialized cyber operations (e.g., collection, exploitation, and response) to enhance the national security posture of the Nation.

The stated goals of the CAE-CD program are to:

  • Reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense
  • Produce a growing number of professionals with expertise in cyber defense disciplines
  • Proactively increase understanding of robust CD technology, policy, and practices that will enable our nation to prevent and respond to a catastrophic cyber event effectively
  • Contribute significantly to the advancement of state-of-the-art cyber defense knowledge and practice

The CAE-CD program is focused on several initiatives critical to the success of cyber workforce development. On the forefront, though, is addressing the need for qualified, skilled educators, who are the keys that unlock the door to a skilled cyber workforce. There is a recognized shortage of qualified educators, as the population of students continuing in cybersecurity to the doctoral or post-doctoral levels is shrinking, thereby limiting the number of those who can and will serve in the academic environment to teach. Schools consistently have multiple cybersecurity faculty positions open for long periods, and that is a critical limiting factor. Our recent partnership with the Palm Beach County School District underscores the colleges commitment to addressing this issue by providing faculty workshops and certification training to district and college faculty.

The designation process is a combination of elements related to the institution focused on outputs for determining academic achievement. This combination assures that the institution meets the desired characteristics of a CAE institution, and that the academic delivery to students is producing the qualified workforce needed by the nation. Palm Beach State College will receive the CAE-CD designation as a regionally accredited academic institutions offering cybersecurity degrees and/or certificates at the associate, and bachelor’s  levels. Palm Beach State College will now receive prestige for its status as CAE-CD  institution and represent the goal of vulnerability reduction in national information infrastructure. Promoting cyber defense in higher education and through research fosters critical cyber expertise and professionalism, worldwide. In addition to NSA and DHS, CAE funding is available from other sources such as the National Science Foundation. The programs as such include critical technologies surrounding cyber operations and specialties (collection, exploitation, etc.) that protect our national security infrastructure and are key elements for intelligence, law enforcement and military operations.

Institutions designated as CAEs in Cyber Defense:

  • Are recognized by the federal government for their cyber defense programs and curricula
  • Have curricula mapped to specified Knowledge Units, which align with the NICE Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, a cybersecurity language that educators, industry workers, and government organizations employ nationwide
  • Have degree programs that are a top choice for students who want to learn the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the cybersecurity workforce
  • Assist federal agencies by providing academic insight into cyber-related programs at DHS, NSA, and other federal agencies.
  • Serve as a potential source and facilitator for government-academic researcher exchanges
  • Facilitate the development of faculty and research leaders
  • Participate in an extensive network of cybersecurity professionals, educators, researchers, and advocates to grow the cyber field
  • Are privy to opportunities for student scholarships and grants through the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program and the Federal CyberCorps Scholarship for Service Program

“We’ve been training students at the associate of science level since 2016,” said Dr. Don Gladney, interim dean, bachelor’s degree programs in PBSC’s 2022-2023 President’s Report.

“Our first-generation cybersecurity lab opened that year, and now we offer a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Information Management with a concentration in Security/Network Assurance that prepares people to manage and lead teams as opposed to just being a technician. The focus there is beyond tools and techniques, extending to developing policies, procedures, practices, audits, and the critical task of keeping senior management apprised of the state of security.”

The cybersecurity lab enablesprofessors to simulate all sorts of virtual environments without creating a potential hazard. “They are using the same penetration testing and network monitoring tools that are currently used in the industry. When they leave us, degree in hand, they can walk into a workplace and be ready to start on day one.”

At the end of the term, students participate in a “capstone” class incorporating all they have learned to resolve a real-world problem. “What sets us apart is that our capstone projects are presented not only to faculty but to members of our advisory boards comprised of some of the people who will eventually hire our students. It’s a crowning achievement,
right before commencement,” Dr. Gladney explained.

Palm Beach State is also creating cybersecurity career pathways in partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County. “Some public high schools focus on cybersecurity, and through dual-enrollment, students can get an early start on certifications for their associate degrees.”

Some of the baccalaureate students’ training extends beyond the classroom, even involving other universities. “We have done some ‘war game’ exercises with students from Florida State, where teams compete to break into systems – monitored very closely, of course – in a virtual environment that’s safe and secure. Teamwork and learning can be fun!”

By Nikki Cabus

Florida Panthers welcome LAN Info Tech becoming the latest company to join the #CyberFit movement

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Florida Panthers become the latest company to join the #CyberFit movement, welcoming LAN Infotech as the #TeamUp partner.

The Florida Panthers are proud to join Acronis’ #TeamUp program, an exclusive offer to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to join Acronis, a global leader in cyber protection, in working with world-class sports teams to keep all parties’ data safe and #CyberFit while enjoying a boost to brand exposure and a rich array of other perks.

As a top-performing MSP, Acronis will now serve as the Cyber Protection Partner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers. Now, as a proud cyber protection partner, the Florida Panthers are eager to integrate disaster recovery to ensure full data restoration and minimal damages in case of an attack.

“We’re excited to partner with Acronis, an innovative leader in the data recovery industry,” said Panthers Chief Revenue Officer Shawn Thornton. “We look forward to a successful partnership through best-in-class data protection within our organization.”

Globally-renowned organizations — including the San Diego Padres, Washington Football Team, Atlético Madrid, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and now the Florida Panthers— partner with Acronis to ensure that their data, applications, and systems remain fully protected from modern cyberthreats. These partnerships are often highly-publicized, and you can see Acronis branding on jerseysFormula One cars, even electric flying vehicles.

The NHL’s Florida Panthers are entering their 29th season in the league, competing in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The Florida Panthers won the President’s Trophy in 2021-22, earning the most points during the regular season. Under General Manager Bill Zito, the Panthers have grown into a tenacious, dynamic, and exciting team led by Team Captain Aleksander Barkov, stalwart defenseman Aaron Ekblad, two-time Vezina Trophy recipient Sergei Bobrovsky and a deep roster of proven and promising NHL talent. At home in Sunrise, Fla., at the FLA Live Arena, the Panthers are set to host the 2023 NHL All-Star Game.

Pat Hurley, Acronis’ Vice President and General Manager, Americas, said: “Not only are the Florida Panthers a valuable addition to Acronis’ #TeamUp program, but they are also a respected organization in the South Florida community. Off the ice, their leaders support future generations to come and protect those who have served us, and we are excited to provide them with the disaster recovery services.”

Acronis Cyber Protect is an innovative Machine Intelligence (MI) enhanced solution that integrates data protection with cybersecurity, prevents cyberattacks, minimizes damage and helps teams avoid downtime. Acronis combines automation and integration, ensuring the prevention, detection, response, recovery, and analysis needed to safeguard all workloads while streamlining protection efforts. Acronis cyber protection provides the safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security (SAPAS) services required to protect the modern sport. Acronis Cyber Protect also offers full disaster recovery support with cloud VPN connections, customized recovery templates, custom DNS configurations, and more, ensuring the teams’ data is retrievable no matter what happens.

LAN Infotech was established to make a difference in its Florida technology community. They help clients achieve success and grow their businesses. They do this by providing them with the right technology to make their jobs easier and help their employees be more productive. LAN Infotech believes that technology should be seamless and second nature. Their services are tailored to suit the needs of small-to-mid-sized businesses.

The company has achieved several significant accomplishments over the past few years, including Inc 5000 Regionals Florida 2021, MSP 500: CRN Top 500 Global MSPs in 2022, South Florida Daily Business Review “Best Of 2021” Award, and our CEO has been awarded Greater Fort Lauderdale 2022 Small Business Person of the Year.

“The entire LAN Infotech Team is excited to be supporting the Florida Panthers on their security/disaster recovery journey,” said LAN Infotech President & CEO Michael Goldstein. “As a long-time Florida Panthers season ticket holder, it is an honor together with Acronis to work with the organization.

LAN Infotech is a Microsoft Cloud Services Provider, IT Managed Support company and a leader in helping law firms, nonprofits and medical organizations deploy cloud solutions, manage computer networks, keep data protected and top technology management company.

The Acronis #TeamUp initiative is open to all service providers looking for innovative ways to grow their business with Acronis and tap into the exciting world of sports marketing. All parties in this partnership will enjoy events and marketing assets such as luxury suites, season tickets, facility rental at FLA Live Area, social media features, LED branding and signage, and more.

To learn more about the Acronis #TeamUp Program, please visit https://www.acronis.com/en-us/lp/msp-sports/.

 

By Nikki Cabus

PBSC and 3 other South Florida universities receive $6.2M in cybersecurity funding with support from Tech Hub

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Palm Beach State College was awarded more than $1 million by the state of Florida as part of a $15.6 million initiative to prepare students and mid-career professionals for jobs in the burgeoning fields of cybersecurity and information technology.

In total, four South Florida universities including Florida Atlantic University, Miami Dade College, Florida International University, and Palm Beach State College received $6.2M in state funding through the Cyber/IT Pathways Grant program.

Cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow by a faster-than-average 33 percent over the next 10 years, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report cited by the governor’s office. In addition, cybersecurity-related job postings have increased by 43 percent in the past year, as reported by the CyberSeek website.

The Palm Beach Collaborative Cyber Pathway Project is one of 24 funded through a joint endeavor of the FLDOE and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, housed at the University of South Florida. It was selected from 67 proposals vying for a piece of $15.6 million allocated by the Florida Legislature this year to prepare more students to pursue careers in cybersecurity and address state and national workforce needs.

With dozens in attendance, college and school district officials formally announced the Palm Beach Collaborative Cyber Pathway Project at a kickoff event in the Center for Bachelor’s Programs on the Lake Worth campus Aug. 25.

The celebration included remarks from Don Gladney, Interim Dean of Bachelor’s Degree Programs, Dr, Ava Parker, President of Palm Beach State College, Mike Burke, Superintendent for The School District of Palm Beach County, Deana Pizzo, CEO at I.T. Solutions South Florida, Henry Mack, Senior Chancellor at Florida Department of Education, Julia Dattolo, CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, and Nikki Cabus, CEO at South Florida Tech Hub.

“We owe an immense amount of gratitude to the governor and the Legislature for appropriating these funds,” said Henry Mack, Ed.D., senior chancellor for the Florida Department of Education where he oversees the Divisions of Career and Adult Education, Florida Colleges, Blind Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Commission for Independent Education.

“The most exciting thing is the alignment of the curriculums across the sectors to ensure seamless transfer and provide an accelerated pathway into the workforce for the students in Palm Beach County.”

During the one-year project, the school district’s curriculum for cybersecurity and information technology will be aligned with that of Palm Beach State College’s to provide students with the appropriate training programs, certifications, degree programs, and education pathways to acquire cybersecurity skills to work at all levels from entry-level technical positions to high level security leadership and management positions.

The project will enhance technology in some high schools and provide professional development and resources for K-12 teachers and PBSC professors.

The projects four objectives are:

  1. Increase the number of students enrolled in SDPBC and PBSC Cyber/IT Pathway programs by 5% in August 2023 compared to August 2022;
  2. Increase the number of industry certifications and degrees earned by SDPBC and PBSC students programs by 5% in August 2023 compared to 2022;
  3. Create articulated curriculum that aligns instruction at SDPBC with course objectives at PBSC programs by August 2023; and
  4. Increase student job readiness through participation in experimental learning programs by 95% or targeted students by August 2023.

Mike Burke, superintendent of Palm Beach County schools, spoke about his excitement for the grant because it will help students stay up to date on cybersecurity/IT issues and solutions. Before becoming superintendent, he was responsible for the district’s information technology division as its CFO.

“As the former CFO, I recognize the value and importance of cybersecurity/IT,” said Burke. “We are heavily dependent on all of our IT systems. We really can’t operate our schools without them. In cybersecurity, the work is never done. You have to continually invest and reinvest to make sure you’ve got the right staff and the right hardware and software, and I appreciate the state making this type of investment.”

Palm Beach County remains a major cybersecurity IT center and a cluster of more than 600 technology and support businesses employing more than 15,000 workers. Employment outlook data from EMSI indicates that Palm Beach County will have over 2,500 job openings over the next three years in IT fields with wages averaging $52.80 per hour, or over $100k in a full-time salary role. In Florida, a 12.9% increase is expected as almost one-fifth of the workforce are at or near retirement age.

As the president and CEO of CareerSource, Julia Dattalo knows the dire need to get workers into the pipeline for these critical fields. “When we get a job order at CareerSource now even in the agriculture industry every job order asks for knowledge in computer software,” Dattalo said.

“There are so many apps out there. We are shopping on apps, we are working on apps. We’ve gone from an eight-hour day in the workplace to a remote workforce and that means technology has to follow us. With that technology comes problems like malware and cybersecurity attacks. We have to protect our information, and we need people to help us do that.”

Deana Pizzo, PBSC alumna, CEO of I.T. Solutions, Board Member for South Florida Tech Hub, and member of the PBSC Bachelor of Applied Science Degree Programs Advisory Board, brought two of her interns, Collin Passmore and Gavin Pizzo, to the celebration. The project will help her hire more interns like Passmore, a junior network engineer at I.T. Solutions for the past two and a half year, and get them into the workforce.

“I could not be prouder to be the voice and represent our local business community and work with the College to figure out what we need,” she said. “It’s a fast-growing community, and I’m happy to be here representing that.”

Passmore, who graduated from PBSC with an Associate in Arts degree this year, took speech and computer technology classes at PBSC and says what he is learning in the classroom helps on the job.

“Those classes were great because the things I was learning such as how to install desktop software and how to better speak to clients, I was able to directly apply to my job at I.T. Solutions.”

Nikki Cabus, PBSC alumna and CEO of South Florida Tech Hub, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for tech development, lauded the partnership. South Florida Tech Hub supported the grant application. One component of the grant was regional coordination between higher education and the school districts which Tech Hub highly supports.

“Every single company that comes to us is asking for talent and how they can educate that talent and find their students opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs, which is why it is so important for us to support this grant that will help us provide them that,” said Cabus.

“The only way we are going to truly move the needle in regards to tech talent is through collaboration. This is not a city or county issue, but an issue for the entire state,” stated Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus.

The SDPBC’s six Cybersecurity Academies are located at Palm Beach Central High School, Wellington High School, West Boca Raton High School, Santaluces High School, John I. Leanard High School, and Jupiter High School, and they are housed in seven under-resourced classrooms with outdated computers. The focus will be on these schools, as well as students and instructors at other schools in the county.

To learn more on PBSC’s STEM Career Pathways, visit https://www.palmbeachstate.edu/career-pathways/pathway-stem/

See more photos from the event here. 📸

 

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