Cybersecurity Executive Program
for Non-Cyber Executives

Cybersecurity Training Program for Non-Cyber Executives

San Diego has taken executive cybersecurity education into its own hands. In spring of 2017, the University of San Diego conducted the first University of San Diego Cybersecurity Executive Program meeting during one morning each week for six weeks. The program’s sponsors invited senior leaders from across the region to participate in this first of a kind program, a cyber-security executive program for non-cyber executives.

The rapid evolution of digital technology has inevitably crept into every industry, academia, and governmental institutions, demonstrating a need for cybersecurity knowledge at every level of an organization. Over the last 10 years, many cyber security teams or departments were developed under the supervision of executives who did not have a background in cybersecurity. Often these executives have several teams, departments, or divisions that manage any number of other disciplines, such as administration, facilities, accounting, and sales, making it difficult for the executive to dedicate significant time to understanding cybersecurity needs.

In 2016, a search for a cybersecurity program that met the needs of non-cyber executives began. As it turns out, not a single academic program existed in any university in the United States or Europe to teach cybersecurity principles to non-cyber executives. This cyber-gap led to meetings between representatives from the San Diego Law Enforcement Coordination Center (SD-LECC), City of San Diego Office of Homeland Security (OHS), the San Diego FBI Field Office, InfraGard San Diego, and the University of San Diego to discuss the immense challenge: How do we educate current executives to ensure they have a sufficient understanding of cybersecurity to make well-informed decisions?

The outcome of these discussions resulted in an effort to develop a collaborative cybersecurity executive program for non-cyber executives. A Cyber Advisory Group, which included Rusty Sailors (InfraGard Board of Directors), Tiffany Vinson (OHS), Matthew Miller (SD-LECC), Parker Scott (FBI), and Jodi Waterhouse (USD), developed a curriculum for the program. The group agreed about the importance of addressing the knowledge necessary to oversee any organization that has a cybersecurity component from an executive level without a deep knowledge of the highly technical aspects of cybersecurity.

After much discussion and collaboration, the blocks of instruction included: The C-Suite and Cyber Security, Introduction to Cyber Law, Nation-State Cyber Terrorism, Understanding Risk Mitigation and Internet of Things, Anatomy of a Breach, and Threats to Information and Operation. Furthermore, technical experts in their fields would teach all the components of the course with a non-technical executive perspective.

The USD Cyber-Security Executive Program pilot concluded in June 2017 and was co-sponsored by San Diego OHS, San Diego FBI, the SD-LECC, and InfraGard San Diego. Attendees included a diverse groups of homeland security, law enforcement, government, and non-profit organization leaders with representatives from the City of San Diego, the U.S. Coast Guard, San Diego County, the City of Carlsbad, Navy Region Southwest, San Diego Sheriff’s Department, the Cyber Center of Excellence, and InfraGard San Diego.