Cybersecurity education and training partnership sets global precedent

judyhector At A Glance, Public Affairs Press Releases

The City of Sierra Vista is launching a new partnership with the University of Arizona and Social-Engineer, LLC to give U of A students real-world experience in social engineering techniques while improving City employees’ ability to recognize and avoid attempted cyber attacks.

Based in Sierra Vista, the University of Arizona’s College of Applied Science & Technology (CAST), along with Social-Engineer, LLC, have developed a course to teach CAST students the methods, psychology, and tools used by top social engineers under the direction of Christopher Hadnagy, CEO of Social-Engineer and adjunct professor of social engineering at CAST.

“One of the hardest tasks in educating students about social engineering is finding ways to provide skills practice that are both legal and ethical,” Hadnagy says.

This one-of-a-kind partnership with the City of Sierra Vista will provide the critical skills practice students need. The City will allow CAST’s social engineering students to attempt non-malicious attacks on employee computers.

“This partnership will help protect our people and give them a world-class education on recognizing and avoiding cyber attacks,” says Abe Rubio, Chief Information Officer for the City of Sierra Vista. “Real attacks can be costly, time-consuming, and difficult to repair. This partnership will not only save the City money but will make all of our employees much more secure.”

Social engineering is a manipulation technique that uses deception to collect confidential or personal information. These scams exploit users’ lack of knowledge and are built around how people think and act, luring them into exposing data, spreading malware, or allowing access to restricted data.

Social-Engineer, LLC is a world-leading security company that specializes in understanding hacking attacks that are occurring on a global scale and focuses on tactics cybercriminals use to influence employees via vishing, phishing, and adversarial simulation. Its leaders have worked with Fortune 500, Fortune 100, and larger companies around the globe, and have trained employees at the Pentagon, MI5, MI6, and other organizations.

University of Arizona’s CAST, headquartered in Sierra Vista, is one of the nation’s top cybersecurity training facilities, operating in a unique online AI environment. CAST’s cyberoperations program is designated as a Center of Academic Excellence by the National Security Agency, one of only 20 in the nation, and its intelligence education program is approved by the Defense Intelligence agency.