As part of Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, Fordham cybersecurity students got rare insight into NYPD’s efforts to protect the city from the multifaceted threats and cyber attacks that it grapples with on a daily basis.

In a collaboration between the Fordham Center for Cybersecurity, the NYC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the NYPD, Chief Ruben Beltran was invited to the Lincoln Center campus on Oct. 19 to speak to aspiring cybersecurity professionals. The commanding officer of the NYPD Information Technology Bureau and founder of the NYPD Real Time Crime Center, Beltran shed light on various aspects of cybersecurity, such as email phishing and key security tools employed by his team, as well as the broader importance of protecting critical information.

Keeping Data Safe

“Right now, a part of our training is how to keep our department assets, data, and computers safe, and also how to keep your own data safe. It’s a little bit different when you’re talking about your personal information on your personal devices,” Beltran said, explaining how vital cybersecurity is at many levels in not only the NYPD, but for every resident of New York City. “I think there’s an opportunity here in terms of creating that awareness for best practices to keep your family’s assets, wealth, and information secure.”

In the landscape of cybersecurity, expertise in business, law, and political science is becoming increasingly critical, he said. In today’s world, effective cybersecurity strategies require cooperation between government agencies, educational institutions, and the private sector, he said, noting that cybersecurity is more than just a lucrative career choice.

Understanding the Need

“It’s cybersecurity—It’s flashy, and a lot of people go into the business thinking that they are going to make a lot of money, and they probably are, especially if they are good at it,” he said. “But, there’s a reason for the need for cybersecurity, and it’s important to know how people get into the business.”

Thaier Hayajneh, a computer science professor and director of the Fordham Center for Cybersecurity, introduced Chief Beltran and also explained how Fordham’s programs align with the demands of the ever-evolving industry.

“One key component of our programs really is [they are truly]interdisciplinary,” he said. “We work across multiple disciplines in business, and law, and political science. We strongly believe that cybersecurity is way beyond just programming and coding and math.”

A Rewarding Career

Reflecting on his own career, Beltran said, “Technology was a passion of mine, and I actually changed my major from criminal justice to computer information systems. But it really did set me up for where I am today.”

He told the students, “It’s important that you know that cybersecurity is going to be a great career; it’s going to be challenging, you’re going to learn a lot, and you’re going to grow.”