WikiLeaks Protests Disable Networks And Reveal Need For Information Systems Security Training and Certification

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IT Security Skills Demand Can be Met Through Villanova University’s Master Certificate in IS Security Programs Offered100% Online

The Web attacks by WikiLeaks supporters serve as a call to arms for information systems security professionals said Michael Greg, Villanova Faculty

The recent release of potentially damaging diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks and its supporters’ subsequent retaliatory attacks on MasterCard, Visa and PayPal’s websites are calling attention to the immediate need for the U.S. government and organizations worldwide to strengthen their information systems security efforts.

After WikiLeaks released thousands of confidential diplomatic cables, PayPal, MasterCard and Visa blocked donations to the site through their financial networks. To retaliate, a group of online activists calling themselves “Anonymous” hacked and partially froze PayPal’s website on December 6. Later that day, they crashed a Swiss postal service bank’s website. Two days later, they hit MasterCard’s and Visa’s websites, unleashing distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks as they had on the previous two financial sites.

“The Web attacks by WikiLeaks supporters serve as a call to arms for information systems security professionals,” said Michael Greg, Villanova Faculty and renowned expert in security assessment. “At any time in the future, any high-profile entity, including local and federal government agency websites, online banking sites, and the social networking sites people connect to every day could be targeted by hackers to advance political objectives or for financial gain.”

He continued, “These attacks illustrate that every organization with a website is vulnerable to hackers, and that the only way to stop them is by improving information systems security. Businesses and government agencies need more expertly-trained, certified IS security personnel to thwart the continuous cyber threats they face.”

The potential for financial loss and damage to brands and reputations is proving to be immense, and organizations are beginning to take additional action against cyber threats. In response to the diplomatic cable leaks, the U.S. State Department announced it had temporarily severed a military computer network’s access to its database of embassy cables. Network access had been previously expanded to help U.S. agencies share information more easily, with the goal of encouraging communication of clues to prevent terror attacks.

In an ongoing effort, the Department of Defense is enhancing its information systems security efforts, including a number of methods to prevent further leaks, a network intrusion prevention system, and other components designed to prevent cyber threats to the department’s IT systems. In 2004, the DoD issued Directive 8570.1, which mandates anyone with privileged access to a DoD system – including full- and part-time service members, defense contractors, and civilian and foreign employees – to obtain a commercial information security credential.

These recent events highlight the importance of IS security credentials as organizations learn how vulnerable they are to information leaks and increasing instances of cyber threats. The use of malware, code designed to cause problems on a computer systems, is exploding - with 30,000 new threats introduced every day.

And there seems to be no end to the WikiLeaks scandal’s repercussions. Just as hackers launched “Operation Payback” attacks on Mastercard, Visa and PayPal’s sites, additional “hacktivists” attacked the website of the Swedish prosecutor’s office, which is pursuing charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assante. The British government is also taking steps to prevent damage to its information systems by the Anonymous group.

Information system security is a continuous, critical issue. It is more vital than ever for businesses and government agencies to protect intelligence, confidential data and customer information from increasingly complex hacker schemes with the power to disable entire networks and threaten millions of dollars in losses.

As the U.S. government and organizations worldwide gear up to strengthen information systems security against Web threats, the expertise required to detect and prevent security breaches becomes more valuable. Professionals in IT, finance and business management can learn the critical skills needed to protect information systems and prepare to earn in-demand certifications through Villanova University’s Master Certificate in IS Security programs, offered 100% online.

Villanova’s Master Certificate in IS Security, Master Certificate in Information Security Management or Master Certificate in Information Security Management – Government programs prepare students to compete for in-demand IS security positions and earn respected industry certifications, such as:

  • CompTIA®’s (Computing Technology Industry Association) Security+TM
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) by (ISC)2®
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP®) by (ISC)2®

Villanova’s new Master Certificate in Information Security Management – Government program also prepares students for CAP® certification, a new (ISC)2® qualification which satisfies Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements. Further, it supports CNSS (Committee on National Security Systems) National Standard 4011, which deals with intelligence activities, military command and control, and other vital issues impacting national security.

Villanova’s Master Certificate in ISS – Government program is endorsed by CNSS, which is comprised of representatives from 21 U.S. government departments and agencies, and provides National Standard for Information Systems Security (INFOSEC) Professionals certification.

In today’s high-risk environment, it’s clear that the ability to lead the fight against Web threats is more valuable to organizations than ever. The 100% online instruction offered by Villanova’s Master Certificate in IS Security programs give busy professionals the opportunity to learn valuable skills and advance their careers with 24/7 convenience. Students benefit from top-quality education and 100% online learning, featuring streaming video, two-way voice over IP (VOIP), shared virtual whiteboards, live chat rooms and more.

To keep up with cyber threats and succeed in today’s information systems security environment, IS security professionals cannot go without in-demand certifications and advanced training. For more information on Villanova’s Master Certificate in IS Security, Information Security Management or Master Certificate in Information Security Management – Government programs, please visit

About Villanova University
Founded in 1842, Villanova University is the worldwide leader in professional education online. A traditional, accredited university located in Villanova, Pennsylvania, it has more than 106,000 alumni, NCAA Division I athletic teams, unparalleled academic and technical support, and an outstanding faculty – over 90% of whom hold the highest degrees in their field. Villanova has been ranked the #1 Regional University in the North by U.S. News & World Report for nearly two decades.

About University Alliance Online
The University Alliance (UA) facilitates the promotion and online delivery of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as professional certificate programs from the nation’s leading traditional universities and institutions. Powered by UA’s technology and support services, our university partners have surpassed 450,000 online enrollments and a million credit hours – making UA the largest facilitator of e-learning in the country.


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Sandy Levine
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