Featured Columbus State unveils new TSYS Center for Cybersecurity, cyber programs

Published on November 4th, 2021 📆 | 4934 Views ⚑

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Columbus State unveils new TSYS Center for Cybersecurity, cyber programs

November 4, 2021

CSU administrators and Global Payments CEO Jeff Sloan cut the ribbon on the TSYS Cybersecurity Center

Columbus State University unveiled on Thursday, Nov. 4, its new TSYS Center for Cybersecurity, a state-of-the-art facility designed to enrich students’ academic experiences, broaden
industry partnerships and meet workforce demands for high-tech cyber warriors. The
range is the first-of-its kind in Georgia — designed for and available to train both
industry professionals and college students.

CSU’s TSYS Center for Cybersecurity is a $2.5 million project and part of the $5 million
gift CSU received from TSYS during the university’s First Choice fundraising campaign.
TSYS, a Global Payments company, sees its investment in CSU as a broader investment
in strengthening global networks and the workforce that builds, maintains and defends
them.

“Ask any CEO what keeps him or her up at night, and I’d bet cybersecurity would be
near the top of every list,” said Jeff Sloan, CEO of Global Payments. “The digital
economy can only progress as fast as security can keep up, which means that this cyber
range can be a real catalyst for innovation and continued economic growth.”

The center was created to address the shortage of cybersecurity professionals — particularly
for the financial services industry — in today’s workforce. CyberSeek, a program of
the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, projects that there are over
17,000 cybersecurity jobs unfilled in Georgia, as well as more than 464,000 nationally.

Now, a full complement of nexus, bachelor’s, master’s and graduate certificate programs
are available for study at Columbus State University. Traditional students, those
seeking to move up in their current careers and others looking to move into the technology
sector for the first time have flexible options to choose from that allow them to
enter the industry sooner and better prepared.

“We’re building tomorrow’s creative workforce — the state’s, region’s and nation’s
creative workforce — today through programs like cybersecurity,” CSU president Chris
Markwood said. “In doing so, we are helping to change the landscape of our community
and fuel the thriving economy of Columbus and beyond.”

Michael Barker, the center’s director, noted that CSU’s various cyber-focused academic
programs have thrived, even during the recent era of COVID-19.

“While COVID-19 shut down the world, Columbus State was opening a whole new world
of opportunities for our students and bearing fruit from TSYS’ generous donation,”
Barker said. “Since launching our cybersecurity nexus program last August, we’ve onboarded
three cohorts of students. Since then, many of our first and second cohorts students
have received apprenticeship, internship and co-op offers with companies here in Columbus
— the majority being with TSYS.”

TSYS has employed more than 1,000 CSU alumni during the company’s existence. Global
Payments, of which TSYS is a part, is a Fortune 500 company with 24,000 team members
worldwide.

“TSYS and Columbus State University have a long history of working together to prepare
students for jobs that are in high demand,” Sloan said. “Like so many initiatives
we’ve undertaken with Columbus State in the past, this cyber range is a win-win for
Columbus, TSYS and Global Payments.”

That “win-win” is applauded by CSU students, who welcome the cyber-center’s combined
focus of hands-on cyber range experiences and networking with industry experts and
professionals. Current CSU undergraduate Alex Watson sees that as setting him apart
from students at other institutions.

“Columbus State offers avenues for people from any background to get the required
skills they need to break into this field,” said Watson, a graduate of CSU’s cybersecurity
nexus program who is now pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. “Cyber programs
here at CSU offer us world-class facilities, faculty with a rich knowledge base and
a curriculum that focuses on developing our soft skills as well as exposing us to
amazing industry partners.”

Jason Parker, a student who enrolled in CSU’s cybersecurity nexus program after retiring
from the U.S. Army, agreed.

“The idea of a yearlong program that combined professionalism, certifications and
on-the-job experience caught my attention, and I’ve never looked back since,” Parker
said. “The opportunity to learn in a cyber range of this caliber at Columbus State
is an experience that not very many people get to have — and our class will be better
prepared because of it.”

Access to Columbus State’s cyber range is not limited to its students. CSU’s TSYS
Center for Cybersecurity’s cyber range is a “live-fire” range — meaning the center
doubles as a training facility for industry professionals to practice live-fire exercises
that address over 50,000 versions of malware on an exact replica of a company’s network.
CSU’s range, purchased from Cyberbit, is the same range once used to train the Israeli
Defense Force to protect the nation of Israel against cyber-attacks. The range is
capable of simulating cyber incursions ranging from a simple web defacement to a full-blown
ransomware attack.

For more information, visit https://turner.columbusstate.edu/cybersecurity-center.

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