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WMU's Faculty-Taught Online Cybersecurity Certification Program Offers Expert in Data Security

Thursday, January 24, 2019  
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As cybersecurity becomes a daily concern for many companies and organizations nationwide, Western Michigan University has a new online faculty-taught program for industry professionals to combat this growing issue.

In collaboration with Merit Network Inc., WMU now offers online professional development courses in cybersecurity training. Currently, WMU offers course certifications for high-demand specialties within the cybersecurity industry, including CPEH—Certified Professional Ethical Hacker and CISSO—Certified Information Systems Security Officer. Professionals in Michigan and beyond can also enroll in CDFE—Certified Digital Forensics Examiner and CPTE—Certified Penetration Testing Engineer.

The eight-week, noncredit courses draw from faculty expertise in WMU's Haworth College of Business and College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as the advanced Michigan Cyber Range, a virtual network environment developed by Merit Network Inc. This gives students the opportunity to practice their skills on real threats without putting their own personal or business network at risk.

"WMU is raising the bar in providing cybersecurity education to a broader section of the state. The Cyber Range team is excited to work with the faculty to provide world-class educational experiences for their students," said Dr. Joe Adams, Merit Network vice president for research and cybersecurity. "Having the courses online while still providing a personal connection to faculty experts allows for a flexible-yet-consistent level of training."

WMU cybersecurity faculty experts Dr. Alan Rea and Jason Johnson will lead the school’s cybersecurity program and combine online learning modules with lab-based experiential learning. Rea is a professor of business information systems who has been teaching and researching information security for more than 20 years. Johnson, a faculty specialist in the engineering college, is a computer science lecturer, holds multiple certifications in cybersecurity, and has experience in corporate network, system administration and security.

Rea and Johnson will use Michigan Cyber Range to teach industry professionals how to detect, prevent and mitigate cyber attacks in a real-world setting. Cyber Range enables individuals and organizations to conduct "live fire" exercises — simulations that test the detection and reaction skills of participants in a variety of situations.

"We take the already exceptional Merit materials and practical labs and infuse them with additional academic and professional components to provide students with a multilayered learning experience,” said Rea, who was recently recognized by Red Hat, an open source software company, for the integration of open source technology in his curriculum. "These courses are designed to make students understand why they should approach various information security challenges.”

Professionals interested in the cybersecurity courses can learn more and register online at

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