Brenden Collins '16, ’19G became interested in cybersecurity during his time in the U.S. Navy, in which he served within the Intelligence and Cryptology communities. After earning his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, Collins decided to continue his education in the high-demand cybersecurity field through UNH’s fully online Master of Science in Cybersecurity Policy and Risk Management (CPRM). We caught up with him to hear more about his background and how the CPRM is bringing new knowledge to his role as IT support technician for Litchfield School District.
What sparked your interest in the field of cybersecurity?
I think what sparked my interest in cybersecurity was my time serving in the Navy. I worked within the Intelligence and Cryptology communities which both possess an extremely structured environment with focus on protecting our military’s computer network security and the confidentiality and integrity of strategic and tactical missions in all areas across the globe. Being a part of that was very rewarding, and I felt that with more data breaches and carelessness involved in business and other organizations, if I could bring some of what the military taught me to those organizations, I might be able to do more to protect civilians on the home front and present a unique approach in the cybersecurity discipline that hasn’t been previously considered in the private sector.
Why did you choose the CPRM program at UNH?
I chose the CPRM program at UNH because I completed my bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems at UNH in 2016 and always had good interaction with my professors, fellow students and administrative staff and figured I would experience the same working on my master’s. Utilizing my GI Bill not only covered my education costs but also offered a stipend if I attend full time which allowed me supplemental income and allowed me to grow professionally.
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How does what you’ve learned in the CPRM program apply to your career?
Cybersecurity is extremely important in all industries and organizations with more attention being paid to it as these organizations don’t want to be the next big headline when it comes to a data breach. I currently work in K-12 education, and the State of New Hampshire passed House Bill 1612 last year, which is an act relative to data security in schools. House Bill 1612 has amended some previous statutes for school districts to put data security and privacy at the forefront and develop policies on how they plan to protect data and privacy as well as requirements for notifications if a breach occurs. Everything I’ve learned so far in the program has allowed me to get a jump start of putting policies and procedures in place well before the State released minimum requirements based on government standards our coursework has already made us familiar with.
What has been the most rewarding part of your UNH experience?
The most rewarding part of my UNH experience is the fact I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learned almost immediately at my workplace. It’s also allowed me to be more confident in decisions I’m making and have made in the past as well as recognition that the skills UNH has given me is moving my school district in the right direction.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share?
Anyone looking to get into cybersecurity with an understanding beyond just applying technical controls would definitely get a lot out of the CPRM program at UNH. It has been a great program so far, providing an in-depth understanding of the methodology relating to cybersecurity across many different industries and sectors.