In the digital age, virtually every aspect of people’s lives is connected through digital channels. On the positive side, this allows instant communication and information access, as well as global connectivity. But this connectivity also introduces a myriad of risks, with cybersecurity threats chief among them.
In such an environment, protecting sensitive information and critical infrastructure has never been more crucial. And yet, the cybersecurity industry is short 4 million workers.
That’s why we invited Tom Vazdar, the program chair of the Master in Enterprise Cybersecurity program at the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), to shed light on cybersecurity’s critical role in safeguarding our interconnected world. Professor Vazdar will also walk us through the Enterprise Cybersecurity Master’s program at OPIT, explaining what makes it stand out among similar programs.
With extensive experience in various industries (like finance and manufacturing) and countless successful cybersecurity strategies, risk management frameworks, and compliance initiatives under his belt, Professor Vazdar is truly the one to consult. His take on the pressing challenges (and solutions) within the cybersecurity field is invaluable for future students and those already in the industry.
The Current State of Cybersecurity
As Professor Vazdar puts it, “We are living in an era where digital transformation is accelerating.” So, it’s not surprising that new trends (and challenges) continue to emerge in the field. Here’s what Professor Vazdar has to say about them.
Cyberattacks Are Increasing
According to the ISACA’s 2023 State of Cybersecurity report, 48% of organizations reported an increase in cyberattacks compared to the year prior. Professor Vazdar says that this primarily has to do with the increasing complexity of cyberthreats. Simply put, organizations can’t keep up with the escalating sophistication of these threats, resulting in their increased frequency.
But there’s another element to this alarming increase in the number of cyberattacks – a lack of transparency. You see, Professor Vazdar claims that many organizations are believed to underreport cyberattacks. Such underreporting might be due to concerns about reputational damage or regulatory consequences. Either way, it’s exceptionally harmful to the industry, as it hinders the ability to collaborate on developing effective countermeasures and strengthening collective cybersecurity defenses.
Cybersecurity Lacks Workers
As previously mentioned, the cybersecurity industry is experiencing a severe staffing challenge. Interestingly, this doesn’t mean the number of cybersecurity professionals is decreasing. It’s quite the opposite, really.
In 2023, the global cybersecurity workforce grew 8.7% to reach 5.5 million people, a record high. And yet, another 4 million professionals are needed to meet the escalating demand for cybersecurity. If there has ever been a stat to prove just how critical cybersecurity is, this undoubtedly does it.
New Technologies Are Constantly Adopted
Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Cloud computing. Internet of Things. Blockchain technology. These are just some of the technologies Professor Vazdar singles out as transformative forces reshaping cybersecurity.
On the one hand, these technologies have the power to enhance threat detection and cybersecurity response. On the other, they can also introduce new vulnerabilities and threats, such as data poisoning. The worst part? We’ll let Professor Vazdar explain it:
“All of this has come in a really short period of time, and we, as people, are actually struggling to learn about all these new technologies.”
That’s why he emphasizes the need for continual education in the field, as this is the only way to stay ahead of the curve.
Cybersecurity Strategies Are Becoming Proactive and Predictive
Here’s how it used to be in the cybersecurity world, according to Professor Vazdar: A new massive threat would emerge every few years, affecting the whole world. In the aftermath, you would scramble a team together and work tirelessly for a few days to develop a patch or a solution.
As you can imagine, this approach is hardly viable in today’s oversaturated cybersecurity landscape. That’s why “we’re seeing a shift toward more proactive and more predictive security strategies,” as Professor Vazdar puts it.
Cyberpsychology Is Gaining Importance
Cyberpsychology is by no means a new concept. According to Professor Vazdar, this term was first used in 2008 by Professor Zheng Yan. However, its significance has grown exponentially in recent years. This field of study shifts the focus from the cyberthreat to the cyberattacker.
Its goal is to understand what these malicious actors are doing and why. The result? “We, as humans, know how to defend [ourselves].”
According to Professor Vazdar, this is the third (and most important) layer of defense against cyberthreats. The first concerns the physical environment (i.e., the computer and information systems), while the second is a logical layer that “connects everything together.”
No One Is Immune to Cyberthreats
There’s a common misconception that smaller organizations and individuals aren’t “appealing” to hackers and other malicious actors. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. No one is immune to cyberthreats, as cybercriminals always have something to gain (regardless of the target’s size or perceived importance).
That’s why investing in cybersecurity is crucial, whether you work for a small IT team or a huge company or just use technology in your day-to-day life.
Why Continuous Education Matters in Cybersecurity
There’s no doubt about it – cybersecurity should be a top priority for everyone in the industry and beyond. But as Professor Vazdar has underscored, what was effective in cybersecurity yesterday might not be sufficient today.
That’s why he emphasizes that “it’s important to get educated [now] more than ever.”
After all, there’s a single constant in the ever-changing cybersecurity field – humans as a crucial line of defense. The more people get educated, the more resilient the protection against cyberthreats becomes.
Why Pursue a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity at OPIT
One of the postgraduate programs offered by OPIT is the Master of Science (MSc) in Enterprise Cybersecurity. This program is fully remote and can be completed in 12 to 18 months. But enough with the logistics – what makes this program the right choice for getting the much-needed education mentioned above?
Given that he practically shaped this program, Professor Vazdar is the best person to ask this question. He shares with us what makes this program uniquely positioned to prepare students for all the cybersecurity challenges he has touched on in this article.
A Comprehensive Curriculum
According to Professor Vazdar, the first thing that sets this program apart is “the curriculum depth and breadth.” This program covers various topics, from cybersecurity fundamentals (the first module) to advanced areas like AI-driven cybersecurity (the second module).
In other words, this program guarantees two things – a solid cybersecurity foundation and a deep dive into specialized topics. This focus makes it ideal for individuals seeking a well-rounded education in corporate cybersecurity, regardless of their previous experience in the field.
A Unique Structure
Unlike most programs in the industry, OPIT’s Enterprise Cybersecurity program doesn’t solely focus on the technical aspects of cybersecurity. But it doesn’t only dive into the managerial aspect of it either. Instead, it gives you just the “right blend of knowledge,” as Professor Vazdar puts it. Thanks to this approach, you can start working immediately after completing the program. After all, you’re all set skill-wise!
Alignment With Industry Certifications
Industry-standard certifications are becoming increasingly important, as most employers prioritize them when hiring new people. If you’re considering a career in cybersecurity, you’ll be happy to know that OPIT’s Enterprise Cybersecurity program is fully aligned with industry certifications like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). As Professor Vazdar puts it, this ensures that OPIT graduates are “not only academically proficient but that they’re also industry-ready.”
It’s also important to note that this program is internationally recognized and ECTS-accredited by the European Agency for Higher Education and Accreditation.
An Emphasis on Practical Applications
The Enterprise Cybersecurity program places a strong emphasis on practical applications. After all, this is the only way for OPIT students to be industry-ready upon graduating. That’s why the entire third module of the program is dedicated to a Capstone project, a hands-on endeavor that also serves as your dissertation.
A Supportive Environment
One of the aspects of studying at OPIT we’re most proud of is our carefully crafted support team. From the class coordinator to the career advisors, everyone at OPIT has a single goal – to help you succeed.
To this end, all the professors in the Enterprise Cybersecurity program (and beyond) are either academics or experienced professionals with plenty of valuable insights “from the forefront of cybersecurity.”
This course includes interactive lessons, live lectures, and private mentoring sessions, ensuring you never feel alone or isolated at OPIT.
One of the primary reasons for choosing online studying is its incredible flexibility. But OPIT takes this aspect to another level. Besides dictating your own study pace, OPIT lets you choose from several elective courses, allowing you to tailor your learning to your interests and career goals. Professor Vazdar singles out the following courses as the most appealing in terms of what this article has discussed:
- Behavioral Cybersecurity
- Secure Software Development
- AI-Driven Forensic Analysis in Cybersecurity
Give Yourself a Competitive Edge With OPIT
OPIT’s Master of Science in Enterprise Cybersecurity program does much more than educate students. It also prepares them for the future, allowing them to become leaders in cybersecurity. As Professor Vazdar puts it, “Our graduate students will be well-equipped to tackle current and future cybersecurity challenges in different sectors.” And given just how quickly these challenges evolve, you can’t really put a price on such preparation (and education).
So, get in touch with our team of experts to give yourself a competitive edge in the dynamic field of cybersecurity.
In this unite.ai article, Riccardo Ocleppo, Founder & Director of the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), leverages his experience from Docsity to revolutionize higher education. OPIT aims to innovate and modernize education by offering high-quality tech degrees at an affordable price. It prioritizes hands-on learning to bridge the theory-practice gap and fosters diverse skill sets and networking opportunities.
Discover OPIT’s innovative approach, which includes embedding AI across all its degree programs, in the full article at unite.ai: https://www.unite.ai/riccardo-ocleppo-founder-director-of-opit-interview-series/
The Open Institute of Technology (OPIT) is a unique institution through and through. From an unparalleled support team that guides you every step of the way to state-of-the-art virtual resources, OPIT redefines online learning. This institution also proves that online education can be as enriching as its traditional counterpart. Better yet, it can outperform it in numerous aspects.
This fact alone begs the question – how did it all begin?
To answer this question, we’ll go straight to the source – the founder of OPIT, Riccardo Ocleppo.
In this article, Riccardo will walk us through his journey of envisioning (and building) OPIT and transforming online education in the process.
The Pre-OPIT Years: Where It All Began
To understand how Riccardo came up with the idea for OPIT, we must travel back to the year 2006. That’s when Riccardo graduated from Politecnico di Torino with a bachelor’s in electronics engineering.
This institution is arguably the most prestigious in Italy (and one of the most reputable in Europe). So, it shouldn’t be surprising that Riccardo chose to continue his education here, pursuing a master’s degree.
He completed the master’s program in 2008 and did so with honors.
Yet, Riccardo couldn’t shake the impression that it was all in vain. In his words, “When I left the university, I had the impression that I could do very little, and I knew very little that could help me in my professional endeavors.”
But Riccardo decided not to sit idly by.
He saw it this way – it might be too late for him, as he was done with his studies. But it’s certainly not too late for future students who deserve a better education. That’s why, only two years later, in 2010, he founded Docsity.
Docsity is an online social learning network with over 20 million registered students. Thanks to this network, over 250 universities worldwide received help in improving their study programs (and finding students).
Docsity also gave Riccardo a chance to fully immerse himself into the education sector for over a decade, finding new ways to reform it from within.
OPIT’s Inception: From Vision to Reality
With the knowledge (and the resources) from Docsity, Riccardo started working on a platform designed to provide the kind of education he wished he had received. The platform in question was, of course, the Open Institute of Technology.
The primary goal of OPIT was to bridge the gap between “what students expect, what companies need, and what higher-level institutions actually deliver in terms of training and education.”
From Riccardo’s experience, this gap was pretty huge. Remember that even with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electronics engineering, he felt he had little to offer to companies.
This perceived shortcoming primarily comes from the fact he received a lot of theory at the university but very little practice. And that’s not to mention how outdated the curriculum was, as well as laser-focused on electronics engineering. In other words, bid farewell to “competencies on the most recent technologies and project management methodologies.”
This perspective made him determined to create a holistic educational solution. Or, as Riccardo puts it, “When designing OPIT’s degree programs to address the skills in high demand today, we chose to start from scratch to go beyond the limits of traditional higher education.”
At OPIT, you’ll receive valuable knowledge beyond theory. Essentially, OPIT equips you with everything you need to enter the job market, ready to excel in your field from day one (or day zero, as Riccardo calls it!).
Tailored for Triumph: OPIT’s Unique Programs
Designing any online curriculum is no easy task. However, the computer science field comes with its unique set of challenges. Why?
This field is constantly evolving. That’s what makes it difficult for most traditional higher education institutions to keep up. As Riccardo puts it, “[These institutions] are very slow to adapt to this wave of new technologies and new trends within the educational sector.” Of course, thanks to Docsity, Riccardo speaks from extensive experience, as he’s seen “multiple times how difficult it is to help these institutions update their study curriculum.”
Companies have it no easier.
Riccardo says, “A company needs one to two years to make people that should be trained on today’s technologies and on today’s skills effectively enter the job market and be productive when they enter these companies.”
Again, Riccardo speaks from personal experience. As a founder of a tech company (and a manager in others), he was tasked with creating and managing big tech teams on several occasions. However, despite interviewing hundreds of candidates, he couldn’t find those trained in today’s technologies, not those from 20 years ago.
With this in mind, he designed OPIT’s curriculum to effectively “train the next generation of leaders and managers in the field of computer science.” Many people helped him in this endeavor, chief among them Professor Francesco Profumo, current head of institution at OPIT and former Minister of Education in Italy.
This unique approach makes OPIT’s programs different in terms of how they’ve been conceived and how they’ll be delivered.
Take the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Modern Computer Science program as an example.
Riccardo says that to be a great programmer, “you cannot just dive into programming itself.” First, you must understand how a computer is built and how its various units operate and communicate. This way, you’ll have no issues debugging a code in the future since you’ll understand the underlying mechanisms.
These underlying systems and foundational skills are precisely what is taught during the first term of the modern computer science program. Afterward, you’ll move toward the latest advancements in computer science, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. This way, you’ll have quite a broad perspective on computer science, rarely seen in other educational programs, online or offline.
It also means you won’t have to specialize in a particular field, as you’re forced to do with many other programs. In Riccardo’s opinion, the master’s degree is where you should begin your specialization journey.
OPIT offers as many as four master’s degree programs, but Riccardo focuses on Applied Data Science & AI this time.
In Riccardo’s words, “The whole purpose of this [program] is actually to train people that do not want to pursue a super technical career but actually want to pursue a career at the intersection between the tech and the management of a company.” In other words, individuals who complete this program will acquire all the necessary tech skills. However, they’ll also be able to ensure the tech team is “correctly understood by the management of the company,” thanks to the managerial skills earned during the program.
Of course, this program also covers all the essential theoretical knowledge, from Python to machine learning. But it also has a solid applicative angle, teaching students how to use the most valuable tools available in today’s market. Simply put, you’re training “for what you’ll be doing when you enter your next job.”
Breaking the Mold: What Sets OPIT Apart
The unique curriculum isn’t the only thing that sets OPIT apart from other higher education institutions in the same field. Here’s what Riccardo singles out as OPIT’s most appealing characteristics.
Learning at your own pace can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have all the flexibility and freedom to organize your studies (and life). On the other, you might start procrastinating without a traditional daily commitment of in-classroom learning.
OPIT ensures this unfortunate scenario never happens by doing away with one big final exam you must cram for. Instead, you’ll be continuously assessed throughout the program, allowing you a much better approach to learning and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
As Riccardo puts it, OPIT will give you “multiple checkpoints,” preventing you from getting “lost” throughout the learning process.
New Learning Resources
According to Riccardo, most of today’s available resources were created for the “oldest wave of education.” That’s why he (and his team) created all OPIT resources and learning materials from scratch, giving you a fresh perspective on the tech world. These resources also come in the form of engaging videos, which are short enough to keep you fully focused yet detailed enough to provide a deep understanding of the topic.
Let’s not sugarcoat it – modern resources mean nothing if the professors teaching them still stick to old-school principles and approaches. Luckily, this isn’t the case with OPIT’s faculty.
Every member of this faculty has been carefully selected based on their academic expertise, business experience, and global perspective. These professors aim to “help you learn in a more engaging and interesting way,” as Riccardo puts it.
He also adds that OPIT’s faculty breaks away from the common saying in academics, “Those who can’t do, teach.” In his words, “We didn’t want to have people that can teach because they cannot do,” so that’s the standard he prioritized when bringing people on board.
Future-Proof Your Career
Now that you know the fascinating tale of OPIT’s conception, all that’s left to do is to get in touch with our team of experts and take the first step in future-proofing your career. As you’ve already seen, OPIT will take care of most of the subsequent steps. All you need is a desire to learn and an interest in developing new skills, and success is imminent.