Sierra Vista is a leader in the cyber security industry. From education to industry, government to military, multiple sectors of sierra Vista’s economy are participating in the growing cyber industry–and growing Sierra Vista’s role as a cyber security cluster.
Military & Cyber Superiority
As the headquarters of the Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) 9th Signal Command and hosting the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, Fort Huachuca is at the cutting edge of Army’s growing cyber security missions. NETCOM is a major subordinate of the U.S. Army Cyber Command located in Fort Gordon, Georgia and is key to ensuring the Army’s global network enterprise is maintained and protected. The Fort also hosts the Army Intelligence Center and teaches the doctrine, procedures and skills for the intelligence support to all cyber operations in the Army and Department of Defense. Battles are not only fought with soldiers and weapons, as threats to the nation’s electronic information are becoming more and more prevalent cyber warfare is critical to future success. As a result, NETCOM, the Army Intelligence Agency and the many civilian contractors in Sierra Vista that support the Army’s cyber security efforts are more critical now than ever before.
The University of Arizona College of Applied Science and Technology launched a Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Operations from the Sierra Vista campus in 2016. The Center offers a Bachelors of Applied Science (BAS) degree that incorporates learning, research, certificates, and internships. The curriculum is currently undergoing National Security Agency (NSA) accreditation. When received, the University be one of the handful of learning institutions that are accredited by the NSA.
With the benefit of starting from the ground up, the University developed a cutting edge learning atmosphere. Its platform incorporates a virtual environment that includes a cloud-based computing network and a database mimicking the digital footprint of a virtual community called CyberApolis with some 15,000 residents and a web presence for businesses, utilities, and government agencies, plus social media activity for each of the residents. CyberApolis is fundamental to the development of innovative hands-on coursework designed around network protection, hacking, and cyber forensics.
Additionally the University houses a multi-locational Internet of Things (IOT) lab. With three separate sites, data feeds into the lab to allow students and businesses to work together to conduct research. Forensic labs and a Capture the Flag arena are also incorporated.
Cochise College has been delivering information security and cyber security-related curriculum for over a decade via their Associates of Applied Science degree in Cyber security. The two-year degree offers classes to prepare students to enter the cyber security workforce or continue on to a bachelor’s program. In addition to fundamental courses, students take heavily hands-on classes in Scripting, Linux, Mobile Security, Network Defense, Computer Forensics, and Practical Applications in Cyber security. The College maintains three advanced technical labs and partners closely with the University of Arizona South. Cochise College hosts one of the Internet of Things (IOT) labs.
In Sierra Vista, cyber security education starts early. The local CyberPatriot teams routinely punch above their weight class in the Air Force Association’s annual network defense competition ever since the Buena High School team finished second in the nation in 2010. Since then, local schools have led the state in fielding highly-performing CyberPatriot teams at both the high school and middle school levels. Cochise College has taken an active role in mentoring students interested in the cyber field. Each year, the community’s Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA) Club sponsors a competition called Computer Challenge (formerly Computer Olympics). High school, middle school, and elementary school students from the Cochise County area compete to see who is the best of the best. In the summer, Cochise College also hosts cyber camps for the area students, training them in cyber along with creating an environment of ethical hacking.
The cyber security field relies on certificated programs to gauge competency in the field. The University of Arizona along with Advance Business Learning (ABL) support these requirements. Both provide programs in Sierra Vista. The University of Arizona offers information assurance, security, networking and other aspects of Information Technology along with personalized courses built specifically for industry requirements. Advance Business Learning offers course in cyber security, leadership, sales, and customer service.
The University of Arizona’s Applied Research Corporation and the City of Sierra Vista have established a partnership to mutually explore opportunities to conduct research that would address the needs of customers in the national security and defense communities that would leverage the resources of UA/DSRI and the Sierra Vista community. Areas of potential collaboration include cyber security; unmanned systems; and intelligence collection, processing, exploitation, and dissemination systems.
Testing & Certification
Fort Huachuca located in Sierra Vista offers third-party testing to companies that would like to validate their technology. As part of the Department of Defense Major Range and Test Facility Base, Fort Huachuca serves as key partner in intelligence electronic warfare testing. The irreplaceable U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) at Fort Huachuca provides critical services to Army program managers, joint services, other military services, foreign governments, national agencies, and U.S. industry. This mission is possible through the unique climate and federally protected airspace at Fort Huachuca. Here, aggressive, offensive electronic warfare/jamming and global positioning systems testing is conducted— the only U.S. location where such extensive testing is possible, thanks to southeast Arizona’s geography and altitude, as well as state and federal mandates protecting both the airspace and electronic range. Private businesses can conduct both developmental and operational EPG testing at the Post.