New computer degree available

A new bachelor’s program in Computer Security, led by former NYPD Lieutenant John Otero, was unveiled this September by the College of Professional Studies.

The program, which will enable students to learn how to prevent cyber-crime, is the first of its kind being offered in the New York metropolitan region, according to a university press release.

Offered as both a bachelor’s and associate’s degree, Computer Security allows for specialized studies in mathematics, business, telecommunications, cyber forensics, criminal justice, and criminalistic and corporate security.

Otero recently retired from his post as Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Computer Crime Squad to become a full-time associate professor at St. John’s.

According to Dr. Ronald Fechter, Associate Professor and Chair of the Division of Computer Science, Mathematics, and Science, the decision to launch the new program came after the U.S. Bureau of Labor reported a 27 percent increase in computer science related jobs through 2014.

“Computer science is back, and computer security is one of the hottest specialties in the field-with information security spending a top priority in organizations,” said Dr. Fechter. He cites an increase in computer related threats like identity theft hackers, predators and spam as the main reason for the employment surge.

He also notes that the need for computer security analysts and a lack of outsourcing has created competitiveness in a field where salaries are 10 to 15 percent higher than other computer science areas.

Dr. Fechter appointed Otero, who he calls “the most knowledgeable person in the field of cyber-crime study,” to direct the new Computer Security program because as a member of the NYPD for more than 20 years, the former detective and Lieutenant has investigated every computer crime in New York City for the past five years, according to a university press release.

He and the 23 detectives he supervised on the Computer Crime Squad helped solve arson, rape, gambling, child exploitation, fraud, and prostitution cases, according to a university press release.

“John Otero’s appointment has helped to make St. John’s a center of excellence in criminal justice,” said Dr. Fechter in a university press release.

“He is a natural-born teacher with an urge to share his knowledge of the computer security frontier.”

Otero admits it was difficult for him to leave the NYPD, but views his new position as a new opportunity that also allows him to spend with his family.

“St. John’s is a great opportunity for me; it will allow me to help fight computer crimes in ways other than simply arresting people,” he said.

According to Dr. Fechter, Otero will be recruiting adjunct professors with backgrounds in computer security and cyber forensics, which is the investigation of cyber crimes.

“His presence marks a tremendous enrichment of our program, and the possibilities he brings with him are great,” said Dr.

Students interested in pursuing a career in Computer Security can major or minor in the program and those interested in cyber forensics can minor only.