Big Data: Cyber Security Is Breaking Into Elite Business Schools — Here's Why

Harvard and Stanford equip corporations with the digital skills needed to fight hackers

Cyber security threats have never been more perilous. PwC reckons 90% of large organizations suffer a security breach — and the number of breaches doubled last year, costing firms up to £3 million each. Whether you can keep your business secure will determine whether you swim or sink.

Bertrand Monnet, chair for criminal risk management at EDHEC Business School, says: “The threat has to be addressed not just by technicians but by the head of the company. Because they are in charge of performance and cyber crime can totally destroy your company's performance.”

Despite the magnitude of the problem, the field of cyber security management is nascent. Some 77% of organizations are unprepared for cyber security breaches, according to NTT Com Security’s Global Threat Intelligence Report. 

And a recent Accenture study found that 31% of companies beleive a lack of training or budget is their single biggest inhibitor to combating attacks.

To equip corporations with the digital skills needed to fight the war on cyber crime, business schools are launching specialist courses, which cover everything from threat intelligence to terrorism and illicit networks.

“As it’s become a permanent part of the landscape for corporations, it’s becoming a permanent part of the landscape for business schools,” says Jean-Pierre Auffret, director of the MSc in Secure Information Systems at George Mason University’s School of Business.

Here’s five elite schools taking a lead in cyber security education.

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Harvard University
 
Course: The Intersection of Policy and Technology
 
Location: Massachusetts

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Three weeks ago, 50 senior tech executives and policymakers piled into Harvard’s Kennedy School campus in Cambridge. Its cyber security course, “The Intersection of Policy and Technology”, now in its third year, aims to bring together techies and government leaders to address critical threats.

“Business leaders, government leaders, and public servants are all so concerned about cyber security that the issue sits right at the top of any corporation,” says Tad Oelstrom, faculty chair. “There is a distinct possibility that this [hacking] could be hugely damaging to companies.”

The executive education program, which runs for five days, costs $7,600.

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Stanford Graduate School of Business

Course: MBA/MS in Computer Science

Location: California 

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At California’s Stanford Graduate School of Business, close to Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, MBAs can draw on Stanford’s synergies with the cyber security hub. The joint MBA/MS in Computer Science also leverages Stanford’s engineering prowess. It covers everything from network security to artificial intelligence — but blends in management foundations.

This combination recognizes the critical connections between technology and strategy, says Madhav Rajan, Stanford senior associate dean.

Students complete the two degrees, costing a combined $165,000, in three years.

Admissions requirements include an undergraduate degree or work experience in computer science or engineering or math, plus the GRE.

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Oxford Saïd Business School

Course: Cyber Risk for Leaders

Location: Oxford 

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In recent years, Sony Pictures, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase, Walmart and Apple have seen their cyber defences breached, costing millions of dollars and uncountable reputational damage. And the responsibility lies with senior executives, believes David Upton, professor at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School: “Cyber security is no longer the preserve of the IT Manager,” he says.

So Saïd launched the Cyber Risk for Leaders Program last year. Its targeting execs, who will learn how to develop security strategies and communicate risks to their boards. The UK-based program runs for two days and costs £3,950.

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MIT Sloan School of Management

Course: (IC)3

Location: Massachusetts

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At MIT’s Sloan School of Management, MBA students can complete their thesis with the (IC)3 consortium, the school’s cyber security initiative, which is backed by 16 corporate sponsors including HSBC.

The focus of (IC)3 is the managerial and organizational aspects of cyber security, says Stuart Madnick, the initiative’s director and professor of information technology at Sloan, whose MBA costs $68,250 in tuition a year and runs for two years.

He says there’s a huge culture gap between those who make money and those who count it. As a result, “companies need people in decision making roles that understand the consequences of cyber attacks. [But] that expertise is lacking,” he says.

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EDHEC Business School

Course: Criminal Risk Management

Location: Nice

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Consequently, there’s huge pent up demand for managers with some training in this area, believes Bertrand at EDHEC: “There is a real job market, not only for IT engineers, but in addition for people graduating from highly-ranked MBA programs,” he says, pointing to consultancy firms like PwC.

Demand from companies — and students — is why EDHEC launched an elective, Criminal Risk Management, this year for its Global MBA, which costs €41,000 and runs for 10 months. It covers cyber security threats, techniques and strategies to combat hackers.

To understand the reality of cyber risk is now “essential” for MBAs, Bertrand concludes.   

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