It's all systems go in new cybersecurity course

April 26, 2021
Red Teams? Stuxnet? The Silk Road? TOR? These are the buzz words students are learning in Dr. Nancy Bagranoff's Cybersecurity for Business course.

Red Teams? Stuxnet? The Silk Road? TOR? These are the buzz words students are learning in Dr. Nancy Bagranoff’s Cybersecurity for Business course. This new half unit course covers the language of cybersecurity, how to manage cyber risks, protecting yourself against hackers, threats and vulnerabilities, data breaches, and more. 

“Cybersecurity is one of the most important issues of our time,” Bagranoff said, which inspired her to create the course from scratch. “It’s a hot field, cybersecurity jobs are growing at about 30% each year and are predicted to continue at that pace through 2029.”

Bagranoff created the course to help students throughout the University of Richmond campus become experts in cybersecurity. The students tackle case studies like the Equifax security breach and have the opportunity to learn from guest speakers including the head of cybersecurity for Dominion Energy and the director of information security at University of Richmond, Shana Sumpter.

"Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility," Sumpter said. "We all have access to University systems and resources, which are at risk of attack by cyber criminals so it’s important to know how to spot cyber threats and report them quickly." 

Ally Steffen, ’21, took the course to round out her senior year.

“This is one of my favorite classes I’ve taken,” Steffen said. “This class was so refreshing because there is no textbook. The curriculum is taught through student-made glossary presentations and real-life cases and articles.”

Steffen is an accounting major with a finance concentration, and quickly learned how pervasive cybersecurity is to today’s world. 

“Cybersecurity affects everyone. If a company that has your personal information gets hacked then that can affect your life,” Steffen said. “This class is really interesting and will help you better understand the relationship between you or your business and cyber risk.” 

Bagranoff, whose background is in accounting information systems, knew she wanted to teach this course because cybersecurity expert demand is so high.

“The accounting profession is changing and professional accountants are being looked to for assurance in controlling risk,” Bagranoff said. “Cybersecurity is a big area in the large public accounting firms. PwC employs more than 2,000 personnel in their cybersecurity practice, for example.”

The course is also open to students from across campus, which Bagranoff said helped deepen the connections to real world application.

“I love having students from across campus in the course. The computer science majors add to discussion, as do those studying finance,” Bagranoff said.

Overall, she hopes the course will help make a difference in how students perceive cybersecurity and help prepare them to face it in the real world.

“I love teaching this course,” Bagranoff said. “I think that this is knowledge that students really should have.”

For more information about the Robins School undergraduate programs and electives, click here.