Already a Pacesetter in Higher Ed, Digital Forensics Program Making Big New Strides
Digital forensics major Rosa Bautista '16, at work in the lab.
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 8, 2016) — Given the explosive need for cybersecurity across virtually all industries, MSN-Money recently named digital forensics as one of America’s “7 cutting-edge college majors.” The first program mentioned on their short list? UAlbany’s digital forensics program.
Noting how crime has gone digital, with nearly every day bringing another huge data breach or hacking scandal, MSN reports, “In order to catch cyber thieves, we need a new breed of detective.”
That new breed is already being groomed at and graduated from UAlbany. While the digital forensics program major only began this past fall, students have been transferring in since the program was launched in Fall 2014. As a result, said Sanjay Goel, associate professor of Information Technology Management and program director, the first cohort (12 to 16 students) will graduate with the B.S. degree this May.
Why the clamor to enter and why the immediate national acknowledgement of leadership?
“We have the deepest digital forensics program in the country,” said Goel, and he proceeded to name several of the major's concentrations: computer forensics, network forensics, mobile forensics, incident-response security forensics, multi-media forensics, and cyber-physical systems forensics.
No wonder that, as Inc.com has written, digital forensics is a "billion-dollar market that's growing fast." No wonder, also, that digital forensics at UAlbany is not standing pat.
“We are building a strong security track, working on a cyber-intelligence track and are hiring two new faculty," said Goel. "This spring and summer we will be applying for certification from the Department of Defense and the NSA (National Security Agency).
“We also have been able to develop much more advanced course to train juniors and seniors in specializations, while shifting some of the required lower level courses to the first two years.”
Plans are also under way for a one-year, 36-credit master’s in digital forensics. About two years away, said Goel, it will not be geared toward UAlbany students who have graduated with the bachelor’s. “No, they already will have the expertise. The master’s will be for people coming from different fields who see the enormous demand for digital forensics experts but do not yet have enough knowledge to successfully go into the field.”
There seems to be little chance that the University is shooting too high with digital forensics. The original recruitment goal for freshmen intending to make it their major was set at 20 by the year 2020. This fall, the program accepted 42.
“We exceeded our targets significantly,” said Goel, “and I’m also happy to say that 40 percent of our enrollees are women — very rare for a technology program.”