Indiana University (IU) continues to help meet the demand for cybersecurity professionals by hosting the annual OmniSOC internship. Its goal is to give students from a variety of universities, such as Northwestern, Rutgers, Nebraska, and IU, a unique cybersecurity experience while furthering their cybersecurity education.
This year’s twelve interns ranged in age from rising sophomores to graduate students with a variety of experience in the cybersecurity field. During the six-week, paid program, students receive mentoring and guidance from subject-matter experts in the three components of a security operations center—Tier 1 incident investigations, security detection (alert) engineering, and investigation platform deployment. The internship takes place in a hybrid setting. The first three weeks were on site at the Cyberinfrastructure Building in Bloomington, and the students finished the final three weeks on their home campuses.
Originally started by Tom Davis, the founding executive director of OmniSOC, the internship experience enables interns to network with experts in the field while also building a community of like-minded peers. Much of the program is focused on providing the interns with experiences and exploring the different facets of cybersecurity.
“The idea came about as a pilot project between several Big Ten schools to work together to mitigate security incidents,” said Scott Orr, the OmniSOC operations manager. “The internship is one of the projects that came about as part of that pilot. We can train students who could then work in the individual campus SOCs while gaining cybersecurity experience.”
Orr described the internship as a mix of instruction and hands-on opportunities, which creates a much more tightly focused internship experience.
“Students from the participating member institutions first come to IU Bloomington for three weeks where they’re immersed in classroom cybersecurity instruction and hands-on labs,” Orr said. “Then they go back to their respective campuses and are supervised by mentors within their own SOCs for their final projects.”
Final projects often involve building playbooks for cybersecurity incidents that try to investigate threats utilizing cyber threat intelligence. They are presented via Zoom to the entire internship class.
“What I liked about the internship is that you don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert,” said Paige Nevitt, an IU Bloomington senior. “A lot of the internship is about learning the steps and figuring out what you want to do within the realm of cybersecurity. It’s just a really great experience.”
In addition to their unique cybersecurity experiences, interns also found a community with each other. When not working, interns would often explore the IU campus or the greater Bloomington area together.
“A group of us went to the Monroe County Fair,” said Alison Bai, a sophomore from Northwestern. “I’d never been to a county fair before and it’s one of my favorite things we’ve done together.”
OmniSOC is the shared, collaborative higher education security operations center (SOC) led by IU. More information on the OmniSOC internship can be viewed on the OmniSOC website.
OmniSOC was founded by members of the Big Ten Academic Alliance to reduce the time from first detection of a security threat to campus mitigation. Today, OmniSOC’s members include higher education and research institutions of all sizes, both public and private. OmniSOC, through ResearchSOC, supplies cybersecurity for the nation’s greatest research.