Brian Ray had no technical background in cybersecurity whatsoever. Now he is the Director at the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection.
Among his many accomplishments, Professor Brian Ray was selected to participate in the Yale University Cyber Leaders Forum in 2017, and SC Magazine named him one of three Outstanding Cybersecurity Educators in the 2017 Reboot Leadership Awards. He is also an expert in comparative and international law.
Pairing Technology and Law
Brian got started at CSU when he applied to an adjunct position and one of his references put in a (very) good word for him. CSU responded enthusiastically, inviting him to apply not just as an adjunct but a full-time professor.
He has always been interested in the law, a skillset that now comes full circle. While serving as a litigator, he attended a presentation and became aware of eye-opening, advanced cybersecurity tools. Soon after, he joined an eDiscovery group to dive deeper into the subject, which led him to eventually co-found the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection. “We had been talking for a long period of time about how we needed to imbed technology into the law school curriculum in more consistent ways, because everything law students do really touches on technology. Then we had the opportunity to create the center and launch it with a national conference.”
An Innovative Combination
He had his work cut out for him and a steep learning curve ahead. “I took over the active management of the center and had to figure it out. So, I learned cybersecurity and data privacy myself. I did not have any involvement before I was a full professor, basically.”
“The online MLS is a unique program in the market right now. It gives, as we say, a 360-degree view of cybersecurity with an emphasis on the legal policy and compliance aspects. But it also gives you a pretty deep technical grounding. You really don’t see that combination at too many places.” Technical courses will sometimes touch upon law but in more of a survey style that never goes very deep into the legalistic underpinnings. On the flipside, some legal compliance programs cover technical subject matter but only gingerly. Most pick a side and simply nod at the other. At CSU, “We really try to get you in-depth on both.” Though not without its challenges, Brian consistently works to make the most of the hybrid structure. “We’re giving you a skillset that’s valuable throughout a career in this field, regardless of which side you’re on.”
Networking Made Easy
Brian offers some great, practical advice for anyone interested in this kind of program. First and foremost, ask the essential questions. What is the content? And equally importantly, who’s teaching it? “That’s the other thing that’s distinctive about our program. We are mostly non-full-time faculty, but not adjuncts in the generic sense. These are really accomplished professionals who are working in the space actively and understand what is going on. In addition to getting that applied knowledge, you’re getting a built-in network.”
Just by getting to know the faculty, you gain access to a pretty impressive group, from lawyers at the top of their field to singular technological pioneers like Professor Spence Witten. “This program gives you all the aspects of cybersecurity. The thing to underscore is that regardless of whether you’re in a technical role or a legal role, the law drives much of the risk in this field.” Every control set and standard guiding technologists are in turn driven explicitly by regulatory requirements. Complicating matters, the laws are ever-changing. Knowing the full story empowers CSU graduates to thrive anywhere.
What Employers Really Look For
“It’s really helpful to have the capacity to do your own research, be able to talk intelligently, and offer up your own alternatives.” The problem-solving skill is crucial and will extend into any career path. In high-stakes situations, Brian knows firsthand what’s really needed. “What they’re looking for is for you to be able to explain ‘I shouldn’t be held liable because I was doing what was reasonable from a legal standpoint.’” And that judgment only stems from a deep understanding of the landscape.
Brian Ray says that in this program, people are coming from all different fields and backgrounds. “We try to meet you where you are. I’m looking to help you grow into this.” They leave, however, with the necessary foundational knowledge. “Whichever side you’re on, eventually you’ve got to understand the laws.’