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New lab at Coast Guard Academy to train cybersecurity officers

October 9, 2018

New London — A new 2,000 square-foot cyber lab at the Coast Guard Academy will be used by cadets studying to become cybersecurity officers in the Coast Guard.

This year, the academy started offering a new major in cyber systems, the first new major to be created since the 1980s. The idea is to get cadets engaged in cybersecurity earlier in their career, before they become officers in the Coast Guard.

“The Coast Guard is recognizing that cyber is everywhere,” said Cmdr. Joe Benin, program coordinator for the cyber systems major, adding that the service needs more “cyber competent officers.”

Academy officials say they are impressed by the interest in the new major so far. Sixty-six cadets in the Class of 2022 expressed initial interest, despite the cyber systems major not yet being listed on the academy’s application form. Of them, 31 said they were interested in declaring cyber systems as their major after receiving a follow-up briefing. Cadets don’t get formally accepted into their major until the beginning of their second year at the academy. Already, those applying to be in the academy’s Class of 2023 are emailing Benin, the program coordinator, to say they are interested in the new major.

The Coast Guard created four faculty positions and two technician positions to support the major.

Once cadets get formally admitted into the cyber systems major, the intent is to have them begin the process of getting their top secret clearance, which can take up to two years. So when they graduate, they’ll be able to contribute to cybersecurity missions, most of which require a top secret clearance. All cadets go through the process of obtaining a secret clearance.

The new cyber lab, which is expected to start being used in a couple of weeks, will serve as a hub for cadets training to be next generation of cybersecurity officers for the Coast Guard. Large computer screens line a brick wall at the front of the room. Underneath the fresh carpet are hookups for power and data. In the lab, cadets will have access to a network, isolated from the academy’s other networks, to learn and practice their skills. The construction of the 200 million to $300 million.

j.bergman@theday.com

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