UT Tyler proposes new cyber security degree program after FBI notices increase in ransomware attacks

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK)- Many East Texas businesses and employees were forced to work online from home because of the pandemic and cyber hackers are taking advantage of that right now.

“A ransomware attacks a business every 11 seconds,” said FBI Special Agent, Matthew DeSarno.  “We’ve seen an increase in cyber attacks against private sectors, companies, critical infrastructure, government agencies, supply chain attacks, intellectual property theft, and ransomware attacks. I mean, the stakes could not be much higher than they are.”

These cyber criminals are using phishing, extortion, and other internet fraud and profiting from our dependence on technology since the pandemic.

The FBI is currently investigating over 100 types of ransomware in Texas. The global ransomware damage costs are predicted to reach $20 billion by the end of this year, causing the FBI to issue this warning.

“If you are a small business owner and you get hit with what you believe to be ransomware, and you can’t access your data, and all of a sudden there’s some bad guy asking you for a ransom. We recommend you don’t pay the ransom,” said DeSarno.

Two East Texas school districts, Whitehouse and Lufkin ISD, were hit with cyber security attacks earlier this year. Pilgrim’s Pride in Nacogdoches and their parent company, JBS also were victims.

UT Tyler is proposing a new degree program in cyber security and data analytics to help address the shortage of cyber professionals.

“This program is really about giving the opportunity for people all over East Texas and beyond to be able to get some real good grounding information and studies in cybersecurity and data analytics,” said Computer Science Professor Dr. Tom Roberts.

This course offers the opportunity to take up to 27 hours in cyber security and nine hours in data analytics or vice versa. The course will be completely online for anyone who is interested.

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