Master Hacker

By Daintry Duffy

December 20, 2007

In August, EC-Council University (a sister concern of the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants) admitted the first class of students for its new master’s degree program in security science—dubbed the “Hacker’s Master’s.” While the first class contained only six students, Jay Bavisi, president of EC-Council, has grand plans for the program and believes that it addresses some major gaps in the education of aspiring CSOs.“A lot of CSOs are not very technically inclined,” says Bavisi, “and if they don’t understand the technology, they can’t gauge how effective their program is. They risk being slow or listening to incompetent advice. It’s one of the biggest disadvantages organizations face, and the [real] hackers know it.”


The program covers a broad swath of IT-security issues, including computer forensics, penetration testing, disaster recovery and cyberlaw, and is expected to take most students between a year and a half and three years to complete. The program is run entirely online, so students can pursue their degree half-time while working in the security field gaining real-world experience. Prior to graduating, they will defend a thesis before an audience of their peers.


Although the program is not the first to provide security executives with an information security education, Bavisi believes that EC-Council U has some advantages over its competitors. First, it doesn’t use the standard textbooks that are often two to three years old. All of the courseware is designed in-house and is never older than six months, so students can be assured of getting the most current information and opinions on the security challenges they are studying. Second, the EC-Council MSS is not your average survey course. “We’re going 2 inches wide and 10 feet deep rather than the reverse,” says Bavisi.


Of course an MSS will not be enough to prepare aspiring CSOs for the challenges of the future, but Bavisi argues that this kind of degree will be an essential component of any future security executive’s knowledge base. “The new breed of CSO must be technically inclined as well as having the necessary management skills,” says Bavisi. “You can’t have a surgeon performing open-heart surgery unless he’s a doctor first and foremost. It doesn’t matter how his leadership skills are and how he manages a surgical staff. That’s the stand we are taking with no compromise.”