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Bison students could fill the cybersecurity void

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FARGO—North Dakota IT experts are looking to quadruple the number of the state's cybersecurity experts as cyber attacks become more frequent and target North Dakota data systems.

There have been 34 million attacks over a recent six-month period, according to the North Dakota Information Technology Department.

With an increasing number and severity of hacks and data breaches, the demand for experts is skyrocketing.

NDSU has quite the pool to pull from, and Bison computer science students more than prepared to answer the call.

"You almost feel like a superhero of some sort," President of the Cybersecurity Student Association Kelvin Boatey says.

While the threat of cyber attacks is real, these protectors are emerging.

"It's exciting to see so much of what you from behind your computer and how many people you can actually save," Boatey says.

The NDSU computer science program has more than 500 students and growing, and is one of the largest programs on campus.

Many have successfully competed in national cyber competitions, and creating cybersecurity clubs. They do it all to stay ahead of the game.

As more people consume more technology and grow more connected, the need for more security is at an all-time high.

"There's so much to do, and so little people to do it," Boatey says.

New technology, presents new obstacles.

"There's a lot of subtlety and sophistication nowadays, some of these are pretty hard to recognize," says NDSU Computer Science Department Chair Dr. Kendall Nygard. "So this is a constant challenge,"

A challenge, Bison students are ready to accept.

"Those interested in cybersecurity, and computer science in general, are there to pour water on this fire," Boatey says. "You always have to be on your toes, you always have to keep practicing."

The department says they have a nearly 100 percent job placement success rate for those seeking jobs after graduation.

The demand for graduates in cybersecurity exceeds supply.

On average, computer science grads will start out making $66,000.