Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Sydney Petrehn
Computer Science Senior, Cybersecurity Focus
When most people think cybersecurity, they often envision a hacker in front of a computer screen with green text in a dark room. But that’s a stereotype, said Computer Science major Sydney Petrehn, who wants to change the way the field is viewed.
“Cybersecurity is a huge field, and it’s an ever-growing one,” said Petrehn, a senior studying cybersecurity at the University of Idaho. “Since it’s so large, I think many people get intimidated by not knowing what they are interested in or how to start.”
While daunting to some, it’s the vastness of opportunities in this fast-growing field that makes cybersecurity intriguing, said the Eagle native.
“It’s one of the best things about this field. You can specialize in whatever you want to,” Petrehn said. “If you want to do crazy hacking stuff like you see in the movies, you can be a penetration tester or a software analyst. Or, if you want to work with analyzing data, there are data analyst jobs out there.”
Last summer, Petrehn worked as a Premier College Intern for the Air Force Civilian Service. While the internship was primarily virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Petrehn learned a lot about the missions and goals of the Air Force through daily briefings from senior leaders across the United States and Europe.
“It was awesome,” said Petrehn, who got hands-on experience with the project development lifecycle in the Air Force. “I spent a week in Colorado Springs working with my supervisor at Peterson Air Force Base on a project to advance their cyber capabilities.”
This fall, Petrehn continues her training through several cyber-related projects, competitions and certificate programs.
“When you’re talking about a field as vast as cybersecurity, it’s so important to make connections and get involved on campus,” said Petrehn. “The University of Idaho has so many opportunities for students to explore and really immerse themselves in the field. I guarantee you can find something that will help you feel confident and empowered in your ability and understanding of cybersecurity-related topics at U of I. The opportunities are endless.”
By Kassandra Tuten, University Communications and Marketing