So let me set the scene. It was August 2012, people were rushing past and then the tannoy came on and stated “flight to New York City now boarding”. At that moment with only two suitcases in hand it suddenly made me question “what the hell am I doing?!”. Well now after 9 grueling months I can give you the answer – I was making one of the toughest, hardest but most worthwhile and correct decisions of my life.
Year one in the MSc Digital Forensics and Cyber Security program (D4CS) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice is now finished and I look back with a warm sense of satisfaction at my achievements so far. It looks like I will have completed year one with a perfect 4.0 which is amazing.
The program is intense and it pushes you really hard but it also offers you amazing support and wonderful professors. The amount of time and effort these guys put in to ensure you have the best education possible is to be praised but that is only the half of it. This degree will not work for you if you cannot dedicate the time and effort that’s required and that alone is too much for some. Many times over the year had the clock gone past midnight and I was cradling a coffee in one hand while typing or looking through code with the other.
The wide range of topics covered cannot be underestimated. So far I have been taught about the programming language of the operating systems i.e. C and successfully managed to design and code a chessboard. If anybody had told me a year ago that not only would I be attempting such a project but I’d be successful with it I would have laughed and dismissed it. It also gave me a greater understanding of the level of math involved in computing. I’m not going to lie, at times trying to understand the logic of the math equations and theory then putting that into practice with coding examples was not easy but it was rewarding and helps you in the long run so thank you Hunter!
I have been taught about Federal and NY State computing law and how that impacts us on a daily basis without us even realizing it. A special shout out to Professor Adam Wandt who made the class a very engaging and enjoyable subject to learn. PAD 750 was split in two halves: legal and technology. As I learn by hands on experience it was great to see so many experiments in class and it allowed you to see first hand what is going on. It was bloody difficult revising for those exams and I’m glad its over but it’s a highly recommended class to take.
Moving on to another subject was the intense reading of hundreds of pages every week on the more sociological point of view. Trying to understand the mindset of hackers and where computing originated from and what that type of world was. You have to be prepared to engage in classes for two reasons; the first is you won’t get much out of it if you don’t and the second is you don’t get a choice because the professors rightly make sure you help contribute to the debate. There was open and honest discussions held with varying views expressed but welcomed. There was no wrong answer, as long as you could justify it. It’s what academia is all about.
I also learnt about computer security and encryption, learning about different techniques and algorithms that are used today. It is such a wide scope and topic but it was enjoyable and broadens your mind. It also shows you the amazing opportunities that are out there in the field and with different talks and guest lectures coming in courtesy of the Cybercrime Center you get different perspectives and an even greater enhanced learning.
There is so much to say but I thought I would highlight some of the many different things that have gone on this year. It really is a case of you get out what you put in, but if you put in the effort then you’ll be rewarded and there is a great setup here to help you along the way. I am ready for the summer break, it will be nice to not have the intensity levels that there was for a while but I know come the Fall of 2013 I will be ready, willing and excited for year two and what the opportunities and challenges that will bring.
Have a great summer folks!