America’s Next Cyber Warrior – USC Viterbi School of Engineering (press release) (blog)

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U.S. Air Force veteran Neil Constantino is an M.S. candidate in cyber security engineering Photo / Dylan Cavas

With new threats looming, cyber security has become a frontline in the fight to bolster the nation’s defenses. Many authorities on national defense and the Internet are warning that the critical infrastructure of the U.S. – including electrical power, finance, telecommunications, health care, transportation, water, defense, and the Internet – is highly vulnerable to cyber attack. 

On August 18, 2017, President Donald Trump directed that Cyber Command, the Pentagon’s offensive cyber-force, will become its own unified military command, putting it on par with the main combatant commands, such as Central Command. While these precautions prepare the Pentagon for an offensive attack, cyber security training also teaches defensive mechanisms.

Thankfully, student veterans like Neil Constantino, M.S. candidate in cyber security engineering,  have answered the call.

After first completing his bachelor’s degree in computer science at UC Irvine, Constantino spent six years in the Air Force as a developmental engineer specializing in computer systems. Constantino was stationed at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles. He was recently admitted to USC Viterbi’s Master of Science in Cyber Security Engineering program.

Capt. Jason Simmons and Staff Sgt. Clinton Tips update anti-virus software for Air Force units to assist in the prevention of cyberspace hackers at Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Photo/ U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

Constantino sees cyber warfare as a high-stakes battleground that doesn’t only affect nations but individuals on a personal level as evidenced by the recent Equifax hack. It was the growing relevance of cyber security in the personal lives of American citizens that drew him to the program. “Cyber security has been a pretty big issue for the U.S., and a lot of the current threats are cyber security issues,” he said. “Cyber space is the newest domain of war.”

America’s Next Cyber Warrior