Hackers welcome in info systems program


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This article was published 10/03/2021 (810 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Being ‘hacked’ is becoming an all-too-common downside of living online.

The sheer number of victims is staggering. the 2014 hack of eBay involved 145 million users, Equifax’s 2017 attack 148 million, Marriot Hotels’ 2014-2018 assault 500 million.

In December 2020, hackers breached software tech company SolarWinds, gaining access to data in many U.S. government networks and private tech companies, including Microsoft.

Photo by Adriano Magnifico Frank Catojo, teacher of the information systems program at the Arts and Technical Centre is pictured with former student Noah Reeder, who is now studying at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Customer names, IDs, user names, passwords, debit and credit card information, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, drivers’ license numbers – if it’s online, your stuff can be hacked.

COVID-19 isn’t helping by forcing everyone online. Atlas VPN reports that remote desktop attacks in the U.S. have skyrocketed by 330 per cent during the pandemic.  

With the internet transforming how we live and work, the need for cyber professionals grows exponentially. Cybersecurity Ventures forecasts that 3.5 million global cybersecurity jobs will go unfilled in 2021.

Louis Riel School Division’s Arts and Technology Centre’s information systems (IS) program understands this need better than most, training a student cohort each year in the art of ‘ethical hacking’.

Students in the program learn how to take apart and repair computers, install and troubleshoot operating systems (such as Linux, Android, IOS), and compete in a variety of Canadian and U.S. cyber security competitions (finishing third at CyberTitan in 2018) that test their ability to defend and protect systems against cyber criminals.

Learners build the skills necessary to write the Comp TIA A+ exam, an international accreditation recognized around the world.

The program utilizes the Cisco Network Academy, replete with continuous curricular updates to ensure cutting-edge education. Each participant concludes the experience by interning with an IS department in a Winnipeg organization.  

IS grads move on to Red River College, MITT, or a university computer science program. Many go directly to workplaces that value their sought-after skill sets.

Noah Reeder, a 2019 IS graduate, recently returned to Frank Catojo’s class to share his story with this year’s cohort. Noah nurtured his passion for information technology at Dakota Collegiate, as a student in Mr. Scott’s Cyber Lancers Club and by taking computer sciences courses.

Noah is one of the select few Manitobans accepted into the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., where he is studying to become a communications electronics engineering officer.

He credits ATC with building his investigative, problem-solving, and teamwork skills in cyber environments.

“What led me to this career path was my time at ATC,” he said.

Noah fondly recalls Mr. Catojo’s classroom motto – “improvise, adapt, and overcome” – an adage that continues to inspire his new adventure in Kingston.

High school and post-secondary students who like to game, to take apart computers, or develop relevant job skills may be great candidates for the program.

Contact frank.catojo@lrsd.net to learn more about joining the next generation of budding cyber professionals.
Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface. You can contact him at anomag60@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @AnoMagnifico

Adriano Magnifico

Adriano Magnifico
St. Boniface community correspondent

Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface.

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