Technology has leveled the playing field when it comes to access to information. Internet-driven communications have made it possible to create, archive, retrieve and exchange information that is crucial to processes and procedures in virtually every industry today.
However, an increase in the number and reach of network systems, user counts, and compatible applications will rise, sometimes exponentially, and the opportunities for exploiting the system will grow. The effects of hacking, an introduction of malware, and other cyber crimes range from minor annoyances to major disruptions.
Cyber security has become a major focus of individuals and organizations that have become increasingly dependent on technology and internet-based services over the years, and a bachelor’s degree in cyber security can secure your place in this exciting field.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity focuses on strategies and procedures to protect data and information systems from threats such as hacking, spyware, malware, and denial of service attacks.
Cyber espionage deploys information technology to obtain protected information by using cracking methods and malware.
As attacks on consumer information increase and methodologies evolve, security experts are also concerned with bigger issues such as cyber terrorism, in which certain groups use information technology to disrupt services to promote their agenda. When the users involved in computer systems disruptions are nation-states, it is cyber war.
The job of cyber security experts includes protecting networks, systems, applications, computers and data processed and stored within these systems from being illegally accessed, tampered or destroyed. The methods used in cyber attacks have become increasingly sophisticated.
Addressing these issues and threats now require more advanced skill sets gained by earning a cyber security bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, as hacking methodologies evolve, it is important for cybersecurity specialists to keep up with the training required to protect confidential business and personal information while safeguarding national security.
Pathways to Becoming a Cybersecurity Expert
You must have an interest and aptitude in math and computer science to complete the required courses for a bachelor’s degree or even just a preliminary certificate.
Cyber security is a field that will require documentation of technical procedures and exchange of information with others who may not have the same level of expertise.
You must have exemplary written and verbal communication skills. As this is essentially a solution-focused job, it is necessary to have the mindset of a problem solver and outside-the-box analyst and thinker.
You must also have the energy and motivation to be a step ahead of hackers to prevent hacking events and to stop one that is already in progress.
In many cases, the work will require attention to fine details, and it should also provide opportunities to build systems and undo them to detect vulnerabilities.
You can complete certificate courses in computer security, which may be available as high school elective courses or as a non-degree certificate for those who are past high school.
Bachelor’s Degree in Cyber Security
As with any four-year degree, your first three to four semesters will be spent completing general education requirements, including math and statistics, basic computer science, writing and communications, behavioral science courses and research techniques.
As you plunge into the core courses for your major study, expect to encounter some or all of the following courses:
• Computer networking fundamentals
• Network security
• Cybersecurity methodologies
• Digital forensics
• Ethics in information technology sciences
• Cyber security policy and program development
• Applications in business and industries
• Applications in government organizations
• Emerging technologies and issues in cybersecurity
• Cloud, wireless, and mobile security solutions
• Design and architecture of security systems
• Strategies for Detecting and isolating systems intrusion
• Practical applications in cybersecurity management – This may be a capstone project or an undergraduate thesis.
Recommended electives include business administration and IT project management courses especially for enrollees who may not have accumulated experience in the business or computer science fields. Since solid writing skills are essential to success in this field of study, elective courses may also focus on technical writing and media communications.
Employment Prospects and Salary Scale for Cyber Security Specialists
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimate that job growth for cyber security experts will grow by 36 percent between 2014 to 2024, which is significantly higher than other occupations.
A large part of the demand for information security analysts will come from the health care industry converting their systems to electronic records and pursuing digital information exchange.
Small to medium-size businesses without their own IT departments are expected to outsource their network security requirements, and government agencies will be pressed to work harder on securing critical information, adding to the demand for cyber security experts.
Total median wages for cyber security professionals in May 2016 was $92,600 annually compared to $82,860 for other computer-related jobs. The highest 10 percent of information security professionals earned a median pay of $147,290.
Demand for cyber security specialists will remain high and continue to grow at a fast clip as cyber attacks happen more frequently.
Cybersecurity experts have to come up with innovative solutions to stop hackers from accessing and scraping sensitive information or initiating system disruptions. Forbes Magazine estimated the value of the 2015 cybersecurity market at $75 billion globally.
By 2020, the value of this sector is projected to reach $170 billion worldwide, ensuring that those who have invested the time and resources to earn their credentials in this field will have a solid career with much room for growth and mobility.