Wisconsin is an agricultural economy: after California they are the second largest dairy producer in the United States. That being said, Wisconsin is also home to Epic, a multi-national company with a huge stake in cybersecurity.
With more than 10,000 employees and headquartered in Verona, Wisconsin, Epic is America’s leading provider of EHR (Electronic Health Record) software. Judy Faulkner, Epic’s CEO, announced that as of 2015 Epic holds more than 50 percent of all medical records in the United States.
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That’s great for their bottom line, however, it also places a huge responsibility on Epic to keep those records safe. Cybercrime has been growing year over year and the healthcare industry has not been immune to this trend.
For example, in the first six months of 2019 more than 30 million patient records were stolen. That theft equates to roughly one in ten Americans, a staggering number. Protenus, an analytics firm, has completed research which suggests that there is a data breach every day of the year, on average.
Where do the stolen records end up?
The dark web, where records are bought and used to assemble fake identities which can be used for a wide range of social engineering attacks.
Given the illicit use of medical records, it’s not surprising that firms like Epic have a legal responsibility to protect the medical records of their clients.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, “establishes national standards to protect individuals’ medical records and other personal health information. It applies to all healthcare and health plan providers, healthcare clearinghouses, and certain electronic healthcare transactions.”
Epic is subject to these rules and must make every effort to guard their data from cybercrime. Within the company that responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of the cybersecurity team.
Wisconsin might not be Silicon Valley but when it comes to cybersecurity Epic is well aware of how important it is to stay safe. That awareness runs through the state, as well.
Cybersecurity in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s CypherCon is headed into its fifth year. The conference is a gathering place for software enthusiasts and cybersecurity technicians from across the country. Keynote topics include cybercrime prevention as well as ethical hacking to expose security flaws in system design.
Besides presentations, CypherCon also offers hands-on projects and activities designed to teach practical cybersecurity skills.
In addition, Wisconsin is becoming increasingly aware of the crucial role cybersecurity plays in securing elections. The Wisconsin Election Security Council is a recently formed group which seeks to, “find ways to use existing resources to enhance cyber security, strengthen relationships and work with partners on security training programs for state and local officials.”
Given the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election it makes sense that Wisconsin is taking the threat of electoral cybercrime seriously.
Finally, Wisconsin encourages those interested to apply for the SFS (Scholarship for Service), “a unique program designed to recruit and train the next generation of information technology professionals, industrial control system security professionals, and security managers.”
The scholarship will pay for up to three years of schooling, undergraduate or graduate, with the agreement that the graduate will work as a cybersecurity technician for either the local or federal government. That’s a good deal as Wisconsin has a number of cybersecurity education programs to select from.
Cybersecurity educational opportunities in Wisconsin
The associate’s degree is the quickest and least expensive way to get started in the cybersecurity field. It provides the candidate with a good background in cybersecurity and prepares them to handle and resolve basic threats.
A helpful advantage of the associate’s degree is that in some cases credits earned can be applied towards further education, such as a bachelor’s degree.
Campus-based cybersecurity associate’s degrees in Wisconsin
Wisconsin offers four different campus-based associate’s degrees. For more information on these degrees please see the table below.
A bachelor’s degree is the industry standard and will typically be required as a bare minimum for most cybersecurity positions.
Those pursuing a bachelor’s degree will be exposed to a wide range of subjects from computer science to algebra, depending on the university’s program.
Campus-based cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in Wisconsin
There is one campus-based bachelor’s program available to students in Wisconsin.
- The University of Wisconsin-Stout offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science with a Cyber Security Concentration
Online cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in Wisconsin
Another option is to pursue a bachelor’s degree online. An online degree can be cheaper than attending a campus-based program and offers more freedom in scheduling.
- Herzing University offers a Bachelor’s Cybersecurity Degree taken online.
A master’s degree can open doors for the aspiring cybersecurity technician. Those with a master’s typically earn a higher salary and may be eligible for better positions within the company.
Campus-based cybersecurity master’s degrees in Wisconsin
At the moment there is just one master’s degree program in Wisconsin.
- Marquette University, located in Milwaukee, offers a Master of Science in Computing: Information Assurance and Cyber Defense
Certifications are not only a good way to fill out a resume, they’re useful for learning about niche skill sets within the cybersecurity industry. Broadly speaking, the more certifications an applicant has the more companies will be interested in hiring them.
Campus-based cybersecurity certification programs
There are several certification options available in Wisconsin. Please consult the table for more information.
Online cybersecurity certification programs
Wisconsin also has an online certification program.
- Moraine Park Technical College offers an Information Technology – Information Security Certificate
Cybersecurity jobs in Wisconsin
It’s good news for anyone considering a cybersecurity career in Wisconsin: there are more jobs than applicants to fill them. According to CyberSeek there is a very low supply of cybersecurity workers in Wisconsin. As of early 2020 are approximately 5,000 job openings.
A majority of those job openings, roughly half of them, are located in the greater Milwaukee metro area. The total number of cybersecurity workers employed in Wisconsin is 10,700.
Wisconsin’s thousands of unfilled cybersecurity jobs reflects a broader trend across the United States: an alarming lack of cybersecurity technicians. Cybercrime is rising steadily every year and research has revealed that a data breach costs an American company $8 million on average.
A cybersecurity technician’s salary is just a fraction of that cost and companies from Milwaukee to Miami are willing to spend money to protect their systems. For the cybersecurity job applicant there has never been a better time to be in the industry.
Cybersecurity in Wisconsin
Although Wisconsin is primarily an agricultural state in Epic they have a thriving company that is mandated by law to protect client data.
The cybersecurity opportunities extend beyond just one company, however. With the CypherCon conference and general appreciation of the role that cybersecurity plays in protecting their various industries, Wisconsin has shown itself to be a forward thinking state.
From an associate’s to a master’s it’s possible to take an entire cybersecurity education in state. After graduation there are thousands of job openings to choose from and given the rising number of data breaches it looks like that job market is only set to expand.