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What Is Cyber Security?  

Technology is quickly becoming the backbone of society. More and more transactions are handled online, and data on everything from travel plans to major financial transactions is being stored digitally in the cloud. With the rise in technology in every sector comes a growing risk for cyber crimes. Cyber security is the field of technology focused on finding and stopping cyber criminals and cyber crimes. This guide will discuss the importance of cyber security, what career options are available in the field, and how to get started in cyber roles to stop these common crimes.

What is the Importance of Cyber Security?

IT security and computer security are nothing new, but cyber security is a little more specific than these general terms. Cyber security works to defend a company's electronic systems and networks from malicious digital attacks. It focuses on protecting the digital data in networks and on devices from unauthorized access, attacks, or destruction through improved software, hardware, and networks.

The rise of technology in modern society

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to think of an area of everyday life that isn’t touched by technology. From the moment you wake up to the alarm on your phone to the moment you switch off the computer to head to bed at night, technology is interwoven into everything you do. Healthcare is moving from paper records to cloud-based technology, businesses are allowing more and more workers to work remotely, and even entertainment is quickly moving from the big screen to streaming platforms. 

In light of this technological revolution, cyber crimes are on the rise. Criminals know that getting into private databases can give them a myriad of financial benefits, stealing identities and bank account numbers from innocent victims. In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center recorded 3,000 to 4,000 daily cyber security complaints.

As the use of tech and the risk of cyber crimes has grown, so has cyber awareness. Understanding potential cyber threats and what can be done to avoid them helps people and businesses be better prepared for future attacks as they build solid defenses against cyber criminals.

What is a cyber crime or cyber attack?

A cybercrime occurs when criminals use technology, like malware, to disable computers, breach networks or servers, and steal data. Some cyber crimes are not aimed at taking data, but rather at staging a launch for a larger attack by bringing down a defense. When the goal is to bring down a cyber network or defense, the crime is called a cyber attack. Viruses, malware, denial-of-service attacks, and phishing schemes are all examples of cyber attacks. Cyber crimes and attacks can happen on a small scale, such as a minor case of identity theft, or on a large scale, such as when criminals try to access major corporations or government entities.

Hackers are the people who perform cyber crimes and attacks. Hackers find ways to exploit software and computer system weaknesses to enter the system for their own purposes. Sometimes hackers work in cyber security to stop other hackers who are trying to do harm.

Many cyber crimes are focused on individuals or companies, but sometimes governments get attacked, as well. Governments can also be the source of attacks. Cyber terrorists are criminals who seek to create problems by bringing down government entities or taking out community services and supports. Cyber warfare occurs when one nation tries to use tech to compromise the computer networks and systems of another nation.

The increase in the number of cyber-attacks has created a new realm of crime-fighting, and that is cyber forensics. Cyber forensics uses tech to track down cyber criminals and hold them accountable for their attacks.

Cyber security – the key to stopping cyber attacks

As cyber-attacks grow in number, so does the need for cyber security to watch for, build defenses against, and put a stop to those attacks. Cyber security focuses on protection against cyber attacks, first by creating strong networks to protect against these attacks and second by identifying attacks early, so they can be stopped.

Cyber security works to find security vulnerabilities in software and hardware that hackers could use to enter malware or other malicious code into the system. Cyber security professionals find these problems and fix them, making it harder for cyber criminals to do their jobs. Because hackers and other cyber criminals are increasingly tech-savvy, the need for cyber security professionals will continue to grow to protect against new vulnerabilities. The ability to prepare for and respond to cyber attacks using strong networks is known as cyber resilience, and it is a critical part of overall cyber security.

How to Get Started in Cyber Security

If the world of cyber inspires you, then you need to get the right training. There are many different pathways to get started in a cyber career. Some options include:

  • Cyber Security Academies – Cyber security academies are short programs that give students certificates and training in cyber topics. These are designed for people who are already working in tech and want to add additional training to their resumes.
  • Cyber Security Certifications – For individuals who already have a degree or training in technology, taking a few courses in cyber security can add useful credentials. Cyber certifications show that an individual has completed a short training program in countering cyber threats. Certifications can be built into degree programs, stand on their own, or be offered in an academy program. CompTIA Security+, CompTIA CySA+, and ISC2 CISSP are all common certifications.
  • Cyber Security Bachelor’s Degree – A bachelor’s degree is a traditional four-year degree offering insight into cyber security. These programs often cover basic technology as well as cyber issues. The cyber component may be the primary focus of the major or it may be a minor emphasis.
  • Cyber Security Master’s Programs – A master’s degree in cyber allows a technology graduate to delve deeper into cyber threats and how to stop them.
  • Ph.D. Programs in Cyber Security – One of the newest options is the Ph.D. in Cyber Security. This degree is often research-based, and students will work on research projects and hands-on labs as they explore even deeper levels of the field.
  • Online Cyber Degrees – Many schools are now offering online cyber security degrees at all levels—associate, bachelor’s, master’s and even doctoral. These give students the chance to study this important topic without going to a physical campus.  

Cyber Security Job Outlook

After obtaining a degree or certificate in cyber security, you should be well-prepared to enter the field. It’s a field that is seeing massive growth. T Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a 31% expected rate of growth by 2029 as cyber attacks continue to be a top concern for every organization, business and government entity. By getting training in this field, you will be setting yourself up for a career opportunity with explosive growth potential.

Entry-Level Positions

Like many technology sectors, cyber security often starts with an internship or entry-level position. In these roles, you will likely be in charge of managing software updates, monitoring logs, and maintaining system backups. These are considered lower-level security matters. 

The job of an information security analyst is often considered entry-level in this field. These professionals earn an average of $99,730, with those in the lowest 10 percent earning around $57,000. Even for an entry-level position, the high demand for trained cyber professionals means a higher potential income.

Career Options in Cyber

After gaining some experience, you will be well positioned to look for more advanced positions, potentially including:

  • Security Consultant – This professional comes alongside organizations to help them understand their vulnerabilities and how to make their systems more resilient. The average annual salary for this role is $108,779.
  • Cyber Security Engineer – A cyber security engineer plans and constructs the networks and platforms that create strong cyber defenses. The average salary for this career is around $100,000 a year.
  • Security Software Developer – This professional develops the software necessary to maintain secure networks and computers. The estimated annual wage for a software developer of any type is $107,510.
  • Ethical Hackers – Ethical hackers use the same skills that cybercriminals use to hack systems, but instead, use them to test existing security for vulnerabilities. Certified Ethical Hackers earn an average salary of $82,469 a year.
  • Computer Forensics Analyst – Forensics analysts use forensics techniques and their knowledge of cyber security to track down cybercriminals. These professionals earn an average wage of $75,292.
  • Chief Information Security Officer – This is a mid-level executive position for someone trained in cyber security. Chief executives earn an average of $184,460 a year, including those working in IT security.

Where to Find Jobs in CyberSecurity

As you consider your options for a future in cyber security, you are likely wondering where you could potentially work. The reality is that any company that uses technology needs to be concerned with cyber security. However, it tends to be larger companies that can afford to hire someone to work their cyber needs full-time. Some common places where cyber security jobs are in high demand include:

  • Tech companies – It almost goes without saying that technology companies hire a large number of cybersecurity professionals. These professionals help develop new products and improve the security of the company’s own networks and technology.
  • Healthcare providers – Since the healthcare world has embraced the digital transformation, they are increasingly in need of security to keep their patients’ sensitive data protected. Healthcare systems are at high risk for hacking, making cybersecurity professionals in high demand.
  • Finance companies – The financial data stored by finance companies, like banks and investment firms, makes them a prime target for hackers and identity thieves. They need strong cyber security to help them protect the sensitive data of their customers and avoid major scandals if their customers are victims of a security breach.
  • Government organizations – Cyber warfare means government offices are always at risk from hackers. They employ many cyber security professionals to keep their defenses strong.
  • Retail companies – Retail companies have a credit card and other financial data on file from customers and transactions, making them a big target for hackers. A security breach can hurt customer confidence and put the company at risk for major financial losses. Cybersecurity professionals can protect against this.
  • Education providers – Like hospitals and other healthcare service providers, educators from schools to colleges, and universities have private data on their students that needs to be protected. Cyber security specialists can help protect them against cyber risk. 

These are just some of the types of organizations and companies that employ cybersecurity specialists. If a company is online or relies heavily on technology to sell its product or deliver its service, then it will need to be protected against cyber threats. The right training can land you that job.

Get Started Training for a Career in Cyber Security Today

With so many potential jobs and the risk of attacks growing by the minute, pursuing training in cyber security is a wise choice. With the right degree, you can get a job that has good salary potential and enjoy an exciting career stopping real threats to the security of your employer. If you are interested in learning more about the master’s in Cyber-Engineering degree offered at the University of the Cumberlands, contact an admissions counselor or request more information today.