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Institute For Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is defined as the art of protecting networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information. 

The Institute for Cyber Security (ICS) promotes and encourages cybersecurity awareness and practice through teaching, research, and service activities.

To do this, dedicated faculty and community members train the next line of defense: IT and cybersecurity specialists.

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benefits of the institute for cyber security

Students that participate in programs within the College’s Institute For Cyber Security have access to a number of benefits through the PC4A Grant.

  • Financial aid availability. 
  • Paid internships with local employers.
  • Paid certification tests.
  • Certificate or degree upon completion.
  • Connected to a National Center for Excellence in Cyber Defense

ICS Programs

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Quality Programs

Programs in Computer Information Sciences uphold strong associations between both information sciences and computer sciences, treating computers as a necessary tool.

Dedicated Faculty

Our faculty are here for you. They will listen, give advice, and provide the education you need to succeed. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1, every student gets a truly hands-on experience.

Accredited Institution

We are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the same as major four-year institutions. Your degree or certificate here will get you same the future as others.

programs within the institute for cyber security

national center of academic excellence in cyber defense

We are a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE2Y) as designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Member of the PC4A Consortium

Pennsylvania Highlands Community College is a part of the PC4A Consortium. PC4A is comprised of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and six community colleges in Pennsylvania. The goal of PC4A is to support and strengthen the cyber security workforce in the United States of America.

The PC4A Project is proudly funded by the US Department of Defense. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.


Penn Highlands has a strong working relationship through articulation agreements and more with Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) that allow our Cyber Security program students the ability to attend any of their events. Click the icon for details.

Contact Us

For additional information, please contact Leisa Custer at 814.262.4862. Click the icon to email.

Faculty Members

  • Leisa Custer, Point of Contact
  • Greg Paonessa, Alternate Point of Contact
  • Matthew Grote
  • Lucas Swartz
  • John Young

Resources and Awareness

Penn Highlands is committed to protecting user confidentiality and guarding the institution against cyber security threats. The College has a full Information Security Plan that can be obtained in full from the College’s Information Technology Department.

industry advisory board

The Industry Advisory Board serves to assist faculty in maintaining program effectiveness and responsiveness to workforce needs. Board members provide important feedback to program review and new development. Current Industry Advisory Board members represent the below organizations.

Concurrent Technologies Corporation (CTC) is an independent, nonprofit, applied scientific research and development professional services organization. CTC collaborates with its technology transition affiliate, Enterprise Ventures Corporation, to provide transformative, full lifecycle solutions through research, development, test, and evaluation work.

Martin-Baker America manufacture, sell, and maintain ejection and crashworthy seat products within the United States and Canada. The American unit oversees the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) activities for all applicable Department of Defense platforms.

Bering Straits Native Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation (ANC), BSNC provides a unique opportunity to partner with an indigenous organization whose mission goes beyond business. BSNC owns more than 20 subsidiaries, offering global logistical and support services.

In-Shore Technologies, Inc. is a full-service technology consulting firm, providing IT support and design services, including WAN/LAN design and administration, PC support, web development and help desk services to local and state private and public sector businesses. In-Shore Technologies staff have worked on some of the largest networks and projects in the industry.

Hiram G. Andrews Center offers quality individualized post-secondary education, pre-employment transition and support services to customers as they determine and pursue individualized goals of employment and independence. The center conducts a comprehensive program of services featuring the integration of pre-employment transition services, education, counseling, evaluation, therapy and physical maximization in a barrier-free environment.

Westmoreland County Community College’s mission is to improve the quality of life for everyone we serve through education, training and cultural enrichment. WCCC offers over 100 programs across all locations and serves residents in three western Pennsylvania counties.

Activities – cybersecurity club

The Cybersecurity Club provides opportunities for students to become engaged in the cybersecurity community through guest speakers, attendance at local cybersecurity events, and other educational activities.

Advisors: Matt Hoffman and Greg Paonessa



 Upcoming Events

Information Security Committee

Penn Highlands has a committee assigned to continually monitor and implement key security measures to protect the institution. The members of the committee are:

  • Matt Hoffman (Chief Information Officer)
  • John Zlater (Cloud Analyst)

Risk Management

There are internal and external risks associated with the security of Penn Highlands systems and the confidentiality of its users. These risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Loss of data integrity
  • Physical loss of information/data in a disaster or otherwise
  • Unauthorized requests for confidential information
  • Unauthorized access of confidential information by employees
  • Unauthorized transmission of confidential info through third parties
  • Viruses/Malware and/or errors introduced into our systems
  • Compromised system security by an unauthorized person
  • Unauthorized access of confidential system by a non-owner

This list is not a complete list of risks associated with the protection of confidential information. Risks can be introduced into a system at any time because technology is constantly changing and new. IT will monitor these risks regularly and address any issues that may be uncovered.

Policies and Standards

Penn Highlands has an Acceptable Use Policy and Cloud Policy that are approved by the Board of Trustees of the college. They are located in a public area that all users of the system can view. The acceptable use policy must be accepted once a user signs into a college computer and/or wireless access point.

Information Security Incident Response

Incidents are reported via the Penn Highlands IT Help Desk via telephone and/or submitting the issue via our ticketing system. If the incident is of an urgent nature, the end user is to call the Chief Information Officer’s desk and/or cell phone immediately 24/7.


Professional Organizations

Industry Organizations

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