Technology industry insiders, students and government officials gathered at Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) Wilsonville campus Nov. 20 to hear Gov. Kate Brown to proclaim the date "Oregon Day of Cyber" as well as officially unveil the Cyber Oregon initiative.
The initiative is designed to create a network of cyber security resources, educational tools and training programs to help public and private enterprises stay safe online while helping develop the cyber security community.
"In an era where we rely on integrated information technology and online data systems, our work in cyber technology is imperative," Brown said. "And in Oregon, we can't do this work alone."
Skip Newberry, president and CEO of the Technology Association of Oregon, said that 165 companies throughout Oregon have reported data breaches since the Oregon Consumer Identity Theft Protection Act went live Jan. 1, 2016, with an estimated $17 million in damages per incident. To help prevent these incidents from occurring, Newberry said that sharing resources and knowledge and increased cyber security are all essential.
"This is an important day for a really important issue," said U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. "Cyber security should be a priority for all of us, whether you're federal government, state and local governments, academic institutions, for businesses, for consumers and for voters."
But increased cyber security requires a more robust cyber security workforce and pool of trained professionals. Newberry said that Oregon is currently experiencing a shortage in cyber security professionals.
To remedy this, Oregon Tech officially launched the Cyber Defense Center (CDC) in conjunction with the proclamation event. The CDC is run through an innovative educational model akin to a teaching hospital. This gives Oregon Tech students real-life professional experience by working with clients in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Students will help clients monitor their information systems through security assessments, managing firewall services and network security, and incident response from the "Security Operations Center" within the Oregon Tech Wilsonville campus.
Oregon Tech President Dr. Nagi Naganathan said that students will work with a variety of cyber security professionals. Since the majority of entry level positions in cyber security require one to two years of experience, Naganathan said that the program is meant to give students the tools and experience necessary to be competitive after graduation.
"There's nothing like experiential learning," Naganathan said. "Theory is important — that's where you teach it — but there's nothing like learning through hands-on so that you get to deal with real problems and real solutions.
"Our commitment is to being a business center and a solution magnet for people, because people don't know where to get started, so now they don't have to filter and solve it, (clients) can just come and drop their problem in our laps to come up with ways to solve it."
"Thank you to the students," Bonamici said. "You are the future."