So your password is nine characters long, includes uppercase and lowercase letters, plus numbers and a few special characters. In a password heavyweight match, yours would be comparable to the Hulk, right? Wrong.

According to the Huffington Post, your password follows some of the most common patterns hackers are looking for. Before you know it, your friendly neighborhood hacker has sent a lovely virus your way. As you begin to shut down, the information that has accumulated over the years starts to disappear.

For most college students, their computers are like their life support. Even a few hours without logging on can feel like days. To help combat students' cyber vulnerability, UCF has introduced a new graduate certificate to start this fall.

"The Graduate Certificate in Modeling and Simulation of Behavioral Cybersecurity is a 13-credit-hour certificate program that provides critical knowledge and training about committing to a full master's degree program," according to a press release from UCF spokesman Mark Schlueb.

Application submissions are currently being accepted until July 15, and applicants must hold a bachelor's degree.

Central Florida is the worldwide epicenter for modeling and simulation, and the new graduate certificate adopts that approach by including behavioral elements that impact cybersecurity, the press release states.

"We're looking at cybersecurity, but with a behavioral slant to it," said professor Peter Kincaid, the director of the Modeling and Simulation Graduate Program. "It's the slant that permeates the research that we do at the institute."

Run through the UCF Institute for Simulation and Training, the new graduate certificate program is designed for students who are interested in cybersecurity, modeling, simulation and training.

"If we were to set up a typical cybersecurity program, we'd be competing with 100 other very good cybersecurity university programs," Kincaid said. "As far as we can tell, there is no other program that has this particular slant to it."

Students who are going to be dealing with large-scale systems will benefit from this graduate certificate program as they gain an understanding of how cybersecurity works, said Randall Shumaker, the director of operations for IST.

Although the program is set up so students are halfway to a master's degree, Shumaker said students do not have to get the whole certificate if they only want to take a few classes in the program.

"We're all dependent on this. We all have Internet access and smartphones, and a lot of our lives revolve around social media," he said. "But how many people know much about it?"

Some students at UCF have come together to share and gain knowledge on cybersecurity through the Collegiate Cyber Defense Club.

Julian Montaquila, a member of the club, said students join forces to prepare for the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, where some members of the club compete against other teams to defend their systems from hackers.

"We meet once a week and go over different aspects of cybersecurity, different tools and discuss emerging topics in the area," he said.

The club practices using certain tools to collect hidden information that could be buried in the system, and Montaquila said it is important for students to have the understanding of cybersecurity to have the ability to do so.

For students worried about getting hacked, he advises to be selective in what they choose to put out there as their cyber footprint and to use a variety of passwords for different systems.

He said the goal of the new graduate certificate program is to truly be an interdisciplinary program and help introduce students to the topic of cybersecurity.

According to the certificate's brochure, this program is designed to prepare students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds in the interdisciplinary field of modeling and simulation.

"Cybersecurity is an area that we chose strategically to grow in. It's a very rapidly growing area, and there's a real shortage of people that are experts in cybersecurity," Kincaid said.

"It's an area that's going to continue to be important."

Available courses in order of progression:

Cybersecurity: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Fall — 3 credit hours)

Cyber Operations Lab (Spring — 3 credit hours)

Behavioral Aspects of Cybersecurity (Summer — 3 credit hours)

Emerging Cyber Issues (Summer — 1 credit hour)

Simulation Research Methods and Practicum (Fall — 3 credit hours)


Rachel Stuart is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at

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