Cybersecurity expert offers real world experience with new course

June 22, 2023

Headshot of Kurt Siuzdak

Cybersecurity expert Kurt Siuzdak, Esq., CISSP, GPEN, will lead a uniquely designed Penetration Testing (PenTest) CompTIA+ course to prepare participants for industry certification in computer penetration testing and vulnerability management.

The summer course offers the added advantages of working with industry mentors and gaining real-world practical experience. 

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In addition to pairing students with industry experts as mentors, the new Quinnipiac course also expands on the CompTIA+ curriculum by providing live targets that students can test by simulating attacks, said Siuzdak. 

“Most people in cybersecurity know about defensive tools,” said Siuzdak. “Simulating attacks isn’t something they’re taught. Going through the methodology of understanding what the attack looks like and executing it to be sure the vulnerability is eliminated is a unique skill set.” 

A privacy attorney, ethical hacker and retired Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) cyber supervisory special agent, Siuzdak led FBI units conducting investigations in covert technical operations, computer forensics and computer exploitation of children. He frequently lectures on cybersecurity and hacking. Siuzdak is also considered a national expert on FBI whistleblower regulations and law. 

“What Kurt is bringing to the table is real-world experience in using these PenTesting techniques in law enforcement," said Frederick Scholl, Quinnipiac’s cybersecurity program director. "There’s a lot more to PenTesting than just running some technology and Kurt has a wealth of knowledge."   

“What’s interesting about PenTesting is the reports that have to be issued must be extremely specific on what’s going on within the system, including what they’ve done and what type of vulnerabilities they’ve identified," said Siuzdak. "So, the PenTest reports are huge for companies and there are a lot of firms that aren’t that good at it."

The Quinnipiac program will include developing a PenTest report as part of the coursework.  

“As the final part of the course, the students will put a report out," said Siuzdak. "If they can do that, then they can be part of a company and do the same exact same thing and understand what the work product is because they’ve gone through the whole life cycle of a PenTest." 

During the ethical hacking and penetration testing course, students will also develop knowledge in basic scripting and software development, penetration testing and machine learning tools, scoping and customer requirements and will understand the ethical, legal and compliance issues of penetration testing.

Students will also develop skills in vulnerability scanning, passive and active reconnaissance, common testing tools, social engineering attacks (especially phishing) and post-exploitation techniques. Students will plan, scope and execute a penetration test, analyze test results and make recommendations, research attack vectors and perform network, cloud and application attacks.  

Siuzdak said another important aspect of PenTesting involves creative thinking, also known as the “human element.” 

“A vulnerability scan can verify there are no obvious vulnerabilities, but those scans don’t have the human element to be able to sit there, figure things out and pivot,” said Siuzdak. “I’ve seen companies that have undergone PenTests and basically the PenTesters have taken over the whole system. It really does provide proof of how vulnerable you are. Otherwise, how do you really know?” 

Quinnipiac’s Penetration Testing CompTIA+ course begins July 8. The 7-week, online program is offered to master’s degree students, business professionals and others seeking to upskill. In addition to being prepared for the CompTIA+ certification exam, participants will receive a Quinnipiac University-labeled digital badge of completion. Graduate students will also earn three credits. 

“We developed this course so that students that go through it will be prepared to get the CompTIA credential, which is recognized by the Department of Defense,” said Scholl. “Kurt is an extremely enthusiastic instructor about this content. I think students are going to be inspired by him and be able to use this in their real-world jobs, which is what we want.”

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