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Cybersecurity and Networking Discourse Community: Analytical Essay

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Patil states: “The term discourse community identifies a group of people with common interests and goals in life, share a language that helps them discuss and attain these interests and goals” (Patil). This is what Patil said about discourse communities and this is what it means. Discourse communities are people with similar goals and these people tend to bond together in a particular way which helps them attain there goals while everyone works together as a whole. Professional, academic, and recreational communities include their own way of informing, whether that be through emails or by fliers containing essential material relating to that specific community. For instance, a professor may address a formal syllabus at the beginning of the semester that provides a broad overview when the class will meet every day and what will be taught on those days. This differs from how the president of a club might only reach out to all the members once or twice every week to inform them of upcoming special events and next meetings. He/she might prefer a short and simple email with some funny comments to quickly get the information out to all the members in the club. The Rhode Island Cybersecurity Commission (RICC) in Providence, the Introduction to Computer Hardware (100) course at Roger Williams University (RWU) in Bristol Rhode Island, and the Cybersecurity & Intel club also at RWU, are all credible discourse communities cybersecurity & networking majors could confront on their direction of seeking a career in this field.

The Rhode Island Cybersecurity Commission works to develop how the state needs to improve on emerging issues of cybersecurity and infrastructure resiliency providing to the cybersecurity process. The process examines and follows qualified practices by states all around the country and enforces all executive branch agencies use the qualified practices. The Commission is comprised of executive branch executives, associates of a private sector, representatives from Rhode Island’s Academic and Research Institutions, and other Public and Quasi-Public Agencies (Cybersecurity | RICC). So far the Commission has started working on an analysis of applicable state agencies including the Rhode Island State Police, Rhode Island National Guard, the Rhode Island Division of Information Technology, and the Rhode Island Fusion Center. These processes address how each and one of these agencies have an impact on cybersecurity. These processes could also deal with anything from improving Rhode Island’s National Guard by creating the new and proposed Joint Cyber Task Force (Cybersecurity | RICC). It is anticipated that all executive branch agencies in the state will become more regulated in their assets, while the capacity to apply assets which may be effective to represent their agency or association.

The agencies are inspired to refer to the RICC Initial Recommendations Manual which formally outlines what agencies need to complete to attain the goal of what the commission is trying to accomplish for Rhode Island. For example, in section three in the table of contents, the manual goes into great detail about recommendations for specific topics such as risk management, skills training, technology deployment, cyber defense, etc. For improving the organizational formation under risk management, the manual states:

The state should upgrade its tools and risk management processes to be consistent with best practices for state network operations. This should include adding human resources dedicated to cybersecurity within the Division of Information Technology itself, rolling out system‐wide training to all state employees on cyber‐hygiene—focusing on spear phishing in particular. (DePasquale)

Agencies who complete the recommendations will be granted formal recognition that an agency has successfully met specific requirements and recommended business best practices. In an email interview on October 26 with Peter Gaynor, the Executive Branch Director of the RICC, he discussed the emphasis of filling out these forums and staying knowledgeable of what the cybersecurity agencies are accomplishing. He acquired the position in January 2015 when the program was established (Gaynor). Gaynor works with the Rhode Island Emergency Agency to coordinate response and recovery efforts for evacuations from natural disasters, and regulates cyber threats to try to develop new cybersecurity standards (Gaynor). As for today Gaynor continues to support cybersecurity standards and he reflects on current best practices for cyber threats.

If an agency in Rhode Island wants to receive a recommendation, it must fill out the RICC Agency and Enterprise Application. This application requires information regarding the agencies information and enumerations including the name of the agency, IT centralized or not, the Executive Director and manager, and who their enhance partnerships are with. The commission then receives the applications to review if the documents are valid enough for approval.

When it comes to good writing, Gaynor defines it as: “writing that gets the most amount of information in the least amount of words to convey the writer’s message or intent,” because cybersecurity agencies have to make sure they fill out the applications and paperwork to their finest capability in order for the commission to allocate them the recommendation they deserved for all their hard work. The Rhode Island Cybersecurity Commission ranks as a compelling discourse community that pursues to accredit cybersecurity agencies throughout the state, along with collecting documents that show an agency emboldens the best practices for cyber threats.

The next discourse community a cybersecurity & networking major might face themselves with is a course offered at their university, such as the Introduction to Computer Hardware (100) course at Roger Williams University. This course introduces the fundamentals of personal Computer Hardware. It includes students building a personal computer through a simulation, install and configure networking components, and grasp the basics of networking and connectivity. The adjunct professor, Michael Micale, began teaching cybersecurity & networking courses at RWU since 2015. As an adjunct professor, Professor Micale has been working full time as a System Administrator in Fall River Massachusetts till to this day. He enjoys teaching his students on the key essentials of Computer Hardware, such as, how the changes in technology over the years has a significant impact on what parts and components computers need nowadays, and wants his students feedback on the subject.

In his course, Micale provides an online syllabus at the start of the first class every semester. It includes scheduled class dates and what lessons are due the next week when the next class meets. The class meets only one day a week and varies on a students schedule. At the top of the second page in the syllabus, students can see that for doing discussion forums every week, it can accumulate to extra points up to five percent on a student’s final grade. Along with his syllabus, Professor Micale uses email to contact students with urgent information such as when the midterm assignment is due and any not completed labs that a student needs to finish. In an interview on October 22, Micale said he finds that to be the “most efficient way” of contact with his students and will even send multiple emails during the week about changes to the assignments. One particular email he sent out to the class was as straightforward as: “Hello class, TestOut section numbers have been updated to match the new version of the software for the first three sections. I have placed a link to the first forum and survey in Lesson 3, see you all tonight.” His emails are simple and brief to get his point across promptly. Professor Micale’s contact with students is “pretty much formal but can be casual.” Relating to the matter, Micale states: “Class was great last week, just wanted to let everyone know if anybody has any trouble with the TestOut site you can email me questions any time, I want you all to succeed and learn to the best of your ability, Thanks Mike.” He provides suggestions and gives positive reinforcement to all his students because he cares for their education, and wants feedback on how he could change anything in the class to make it more enjoyable.

In addition to that representation of contact, Professor Micale also uses Bridges, a campus website provided to students, as a resource to reach out to the class. For example, in the middle of the semester towards late October, he assigned the midterm assignment, due the following week, it was assigned and in an email he sent to the entire class: “Hello class, I will be releasing the midterm shortly, I’m just finishing it up. It can be taken online with your own laptop on the TestOut site, under the resource tap in Bridges, Thanks Mike.” Bridges makes his students have the ability to easily access forums and surveys he wants them to do. The guidelines for the midterm are as follows:

The midterm must be taken as follows;

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Unlike the quizzes, the midterm will have a time limit and you’ll only get one chance at it so please be prepared prior to taking it. I’ll email a quick guide to everyone before releasing the exam. Please stay tuned. (Micale)

These guidelines establish the specifications of good writing that Professor Micale tries to justify.

This discourse community defines good writing differently than what a professional discourse community would define it as. Micale defines good writing as: “balancing technical knowledge with the ability to communicate it at various levels of technical expertise. Also, realizing when to explain technical concepts in depth and when it could be appropriate or inappropriate and how to do so if appropriate.” Micale wants his students to absorb the sequential information needed from this course and have the ability to explain the material they learned to a CEO of a company or owner of business in a interview to have the opportunity to get a job in the field. He believes that if students were not interested in taking this course why would they want a career in Cybersecurity & Networking. This discourse community concentrates on the significance of cybersecurity & networking and achieves the objective of learning more about the Cybersecurity & Networking System.

Both the Rhode Island Cybersecurity Commission and the Introduction to Computer Hardware course at RWU value the importance of cybersecurity & networking. They have their own way of connection, but both have different ways to contact members of the community and scope out awareness of the Cybersecurity & Networking System. The RICC uses more formal communication, including all the paperwork an agency must fill out to attain a recommendation for approval. RICC officials use the RICC Initial Recommendations Manual to look through guidelines and verify everything the agency successfully accomplished. The RICC officials use a more qualified communication system. For example, agencies will generally send their agency and enterprise application in the mail where it can be handled by the commission. Another way someone could send their agency and enterprise application is driving to the commission in Providence to get it processed. For the Introduction to Computer Hardware course, most of the contact is through email. Professor Micale makes his emails more informal than formal, but still has that professional aspect through his grammar and serious comments to thoroughly respect his role as a professor. All the material can be found on Bridges and the TestOut site, otherwise he emails any assignments not on Bridges to the entire class. Although these two discourse communities differ in communication forms, they both use what is essential for their profession and what is easiest to help them succeed in spreading knowledge of Cybersecurity & Networking within Rhode Island.

The third discourse community is the Cybersecurity & Intel club at Roger Williams University. The Cybersecurity & Intel club is a club on campus specifically designed and created for all cybersecurity & networking majors, but can allow non cyber students to join. They meet typically during the last week of each month on Saturdays at either 1:00 or 7:00pm which varies, in room 105 in the Global Heritage Hall (GHH) building. Communication is primarily done through email. The club President, Austin Turecek, will typically send out a bulk email to all the members advising everyone of what topics he and the other board members are going to address at the next meeting. The style of writing is not traditionally formal but mostly informal, and may have some sarcasm in it. One particular email he sent on October 18, Turecek stated:

Hey friends and family, Tonight at 7pm in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) building room 157 there’s going to be a screening of a classic hacker movie, Sneakers. Popcorn and soda will be there. Friendly people will be there. I hope a puppy will be there, but I have zero reason to expect that. I also hope you’ll be there. P.S. cyber fact of the day – only 10-12% of cyber crimes are reported. (Turecek)

His constant use of the word “there” and then the one word “postscript (P.S)” indicates that he really wants his members there as well as giving a fact to provide some meaningful cyber knowledge to all the members. This email demonstrates a less professional feeling and displays that connection does not have to be superb.

In an interview on October 21, Turecek expressed that the requirements for writing in the club are not stern. Contact to all the members is usually short and simple to get the information out as promptly as possible. Alongside emailing all the club members, Turecek and the Vice President Samuel Munhall and other board members use a campus provided website called Hawklink to put out information about the meetings. This website also gives an overview of the club’s goals such as providing support for student learning by creating a community for those interested in cybersecurity and information security, and helping members who are serious about cybersecurity get ready for future careers in the Cybersecurity & Networking field (Cybersecurity & Intel club). Along with email and the Hawklink website, Turecek will show what individual projects he has been working on non-related to the club, and will even have all the members try to complete his projects in a certain amount of time. One project he displayed was how easily someone could hack the student forum tab on the schools online website Bridges. He discussed how there were only three steps needed and Bridges could be hacked in an instant. This specific communication demonstrates how helpful and passionate the head members of the club are, wanting there members to succeed further on in the field in the future.

Good writing is defined differently in this discourse community than what a professional or academic discourse community would define it as. Turecek stated that good writing consists of: “making the meetings fun and informal, while having the learning factor involved as well” in which he demonstrates in his shared project designs and the sample email he sent to all the members (Turecek). As the President for the past two years, Turecek cares about the Cybersecurity & Intel club here at RWU and explained what this recreational community is trying to do when communicating with its members, and what report they try to address to the campus community.

These three discourse communities have their own distinct way of connection that works to their own interest. In regards of the one who displays the least amount of professionality, the Cybersecurity & Intel club is the perfect candidate. The club President sends out quick, and bulk, emails that lack the same formality found in an email a cybersecurity agency would deliver to the RICC for a recommendation. An email from Professor Micale to his class in the Introduction to Computer Hardware course also differs from what an email entails from an organization or club. Although the contact is occasionally both formal and informal, there is great admiration for his role as a professor, whereas the Cybersecurity & Intel club could not stray away from its members. On the contrary, these three communities do share the idea of getting their point across by having their own communication styles collect enough information so that members of the community can comprehend it. The academic courses main goal is to prepare criminal justice majors for careers in the field such as those in RICC, whereas the club at RWU is more for satisfaction but can also help members who are serious about cybersecurity get ready for future careers in the Cybersecurity & Networking field. The club can also allow members to interact with others who share a common interest in cybersecurity & networking.

Someone looking into a serious career in the Cybersecurity & Networking System must be able to learn and accustom to different communities. One must use formal language within a professional discourse community to contact with other employees in a company or organization, where the academic and recreational can be seen as more informal without worrying about following those particular principles of writing. These exclusive components of the style of writing are what manufactures the RICC, the Introduction to Computer Hardware course at RWU, and the Cybersecurity & Intel club at RWU as all credible discourse communities.

Works Cited

  1. Patil, Komal. “A Simple Explanation of Discourse Community With Examples.” N.p., 2018. Web. 21 Oct. 2019.
  2. “Cybersecurity | RICC.” RICC. N.p., 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2019.
  3. DePasquale, Scott E. RICC Initial Recommendations Manual. N.p.: RICC Cybersecurity Program, 2015. Print.
  4. Gaynor, Peter. Email Interview. 26 Oct. 2019.
  5. Micale, Michael. (Fall 2019). Introduction to Computer Hardware. The Apereo Foundation Bridges website Roger Williams University. Syllabus. Web 21 Oct. 2019.
  6. Micale, Michael. Person Interview. 22 Oct. 2019.
  7. Turecek, Austin. Person Interview. 21 Oct. 2019.
  8. Cybersecurity & Intel club. Roger Williams University. Hawklink. Web. 21 Oct. 2019.
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