A New England college is training students to be the next generation of hackers.
The Cyber Security Cluster at the University of Southern Maine gives students the tools to become "ethical hackers," protecting businesses and the government from attacks.
"Cyber security is all about defending yourself," said student Robert Pariseau, a senior at USM. "In order to defend yourself, you have to know what they're throwing at you."
To understand the importance of their work, the students only have to turn on the news: massive data breaches at major US corporations, hacked emails posted on Wikileaks, accusations that Russians are using cyber attacks to influence the U.S. election.
"It's political warfare," said Louis Hychko, an Air Force veteran who is studying cyber security at USM.
If cyber attacks are the future of war, students like Louis are training to fight on the front lines.
"The Russians are at the top of their game," said Technical Director Ed Sihler. "Everyone is behind the eight-ball."
The students create virtual cities and simulate cyber attacks, learn how to run and fight against viruses, and penetrate systems.
Sihler said a student who graduates with this kind of degree can expect to receive a job offer once every seven days.
Since the NSA-certified lab at USM opened in 2014, Sihler said every graduate who wanted to pursue a career in cyber security has landed a job.