Cybersecurity is a highly specialized field that deals with the ever-present and ever-evolving problem of cybercrimes. Cybercrimes literally means crimes committed on the internet. They can range from hacking into a computer network to identity theft, stealing of credit card or other financial information, etc. With cyber-crimes making use of social engineering to achieve their nefarious goals, it has become mandatory for all companies to

  • Protect their confidential data and
  • Protecting the personal information of their senior management staff from falling into the wrong hands.

Need for a cybersecurity degree

There are many advantages to opting for a degree in cybersecurity. The important ones are:

  • Immense job opportunities: Companies, which are aware of the immense threat posed by cyber crimes and cyber terrorism, opt for the creation of a separate group to specifically address this problem. Many others are as yet unaware of the extensiveness of the damage that any type of cybercrime can cause. There are yet more companies for whom affording a cybersecurity team might prove to be too expensive. These companies look for individual consultants who freelance as cybersecurity specialists for help and proper guidance in this field. All these and more on a global platform have resulted in the creation of a potentially huge job market for cybersecurity.
  • Thrill and variation: The job of a cybersecurity professional is as intense as it is thrilling. The intensity of the job results from the high levels of concentration required to build and maintain an almost foolproof cybersecurity system. But a successful creation does not guarantee work perfection. With every advancement in the technologies of cybersecurity, cyber crimes are also updating and upgrading themselves. Hence every day brings in a new challenge thereby making the job more thrilling and relieving its monotony.
  • Financially fulfilling: The job of a cybersecurity specialize is one of the most lucrative in the job market. Since academic and practical exposure has led to a greater awareness of the magnanimity of the damage resulting from a cybercrime, people have come to value these professionals much more. This has led to a hike in salaries of all cybersecurity personnel thereby making it a good career choice.
  • Career advancement: Career growth in this field primarily depends on two criteria:
    • Educational qualification and
    • Experience.

In fact, even for getting a job at the lowest levels in this field, a degree in a subject related to cybersecurity is a must. Also, a person with a higher degree in this field is able to advance his career quite easily but can only reach a certain level. This higher degree when combined with experience makes for a deadly combo and for people having this combination, the sky is the limit.

  • Job security: For as long as cybercrimes are committed, the job of a cybersecurity specialist is secure. Since the internet is here to stay and eCommerce has just started to bloom, there seems to be no end to cybercrimes. In fact, new techniques are being evolved periodically thereby keeping everyone on their toes. With surveys and statistics clearly indicating that people across the globe feel extremely threatened by cyber terrorism, the need for cybersecurity currently seems to be never-ending. Cybercrime is a difficult problem to contain and totally eradicate thereby ensuring continuity in the professional field of cybersecurity.

Degrees offered by colleges and universities

Recognizing the need for professional excellence in this highly specialized field most colleges and universities have introduced degree courses in this field. The aim is to specifically train people in the different aspects of cybersecurity. Some of the degree courses for both undergraduates and graduates, which are currently being offered include the following aspects of cybersecurity.

  • Cybersecurity which offers a comprehensive and all-encompassing program addressing the different aspects of cybersecurity,
  • Information security or InfoSec  deals with the different components involved in safeguarding information against possible security threats and risks,
  • Information assurance which deals with ensuring that information stays well-protected and out of reach of manhandling cyber thieves and
  • Information systems security deals with the processes and technologies involved in keeping the required information confidential thereby assuring its integrity.

Key components of a cybersecurity degree program

Cybersecurity is a very broad term and the syllabi of the degree courses offered cover the whole wide swath of inter and intranet security. Hence degree courses in different colleges show many different variations. Some of the most important things on which knowledge is being provided in a  cybersecurity degree program are:

  • Analysis of basic data, scripting, and introductory programming,
  • Fundamental principles of security design and information assurance,
  • Known cyber threats and their defenses,
  • Cryptography,
  • Various IT networking system components and network concepts,
  • Ethical and legal policies and their proper compliance and
  • System administration.

Some extra subjects which are touched upon in a four-year degree program are:

  • Databases and concepts related to operating systems,
  • Network defense, technology, and protocols,
  • Probability and statistics and
  • Advanced programming.

Career options available

Armed with a degree in cybersecurity can lead to many job opportunities like

  • Information security crime expert,
  • Penetration tester,
  • Forensic  analyst,
  • Incident responder,
  • Malware analyst
  • Security analyst and architect,
  • Ethical hacker and
  • Computer crime investigator etc.

Entry-level job opportunities in computer network security range from network security technicians and administrators to security application analysts and from information assurance specialists to IT security representatives etc. While it is not mandatory to have a degree in cybersecurity, in such instances the candidate will not be able to grow in his career. This is because, for more specialized jobs, a college degree and experience in the relevant field is a must. Thus getting a degree not only helps to get lucrative jobs, it also helps a professional to acquire the necessary experience for a particular field.

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