Today internet has become the mainstay of every business as more and more people are gravitating towards e-commerce. This has opened up a whole new world to tinker with hackers and cyber thieves. Hence maintaining cybersecurity has become a priority with most people involved with the internet in some capacity or the other. Today there are a number of colleges and universities which offer degree courses to prepare students and working professionals to deal with this critical problem.

Define cybersecurity

Because of the relatively nascent nature of the need for cybersecurity, not many people are as yet aware of the exact nature of this job. Broadly speaking, cybersecurity deals with the prevention of cyber theft. With almost all financial institutions going online and also urging their customers to fulfill their banking needs online, instances of cybercrime too has increased.

Cybercrime refers to any criminal acts done over the internet like

  • Hacking whereby a computer professional knowingly tries to gain unauthorized access into someone’s computer network with the sole intention of
    • Stealing valuable information stored online or
    • Corrupting all valuable data stored online.
  • Traditional crimes which are conducted using the internet like
    • Hate crimes and internet frauds,
    • Theft of one’s identity,
    • Thefts related to the credit card transactions and accounts etc.

In order to counter these online crimes, a body of technologies was developed with the sole aim of

  • Detecting any cyber attacks before they actually take place by constant monitoring,
  • Responding immediately to set up a series of protective measures capable of real-time assessment of the web and
  • Preventing all such crimes from affecting computer systems by
    • Plugging in loopholes,
    • Setting up a tight internet vigilance and
    • Educating people about cybercrimes and their consequences.

Thus cybersecurity refers series of technological processes and practices designed to safeguard computer programs and networks by eliminating chances of damage from online attacks and unauthorized access. This, in turn, requires the help of trained and educated cyber specialists to effectively minimize all risks.

Key elements of cybersecurity degree

Given the magnanimity of the work and its global implication, for any cybersecurity degree to be effective, it should educate its students so that they understand the importance of the following five important aspects of cybersecurity.

  • Sturdy and effective framework:  This is a company-specific need whereby a cybersecurity framework is developed basis the
    • Particular needs of the company and
    • The type of data it needs to protect.

This framework also needs to be properly implemented with the help of all executives of a company so as to ensure proper governance. Hence the foundation framework needs to be fine-tuned so that it is in sync with

  • The people working,
  • The different processes followed and
  • The technology present in the company.
  • Comprehensive and all-encompassing: For any cybersecurity program to be successful, it needs to be able to address the needs of all critical and confidential elements of an organization. Because of the number of systems and devices which are generally logged into the company’s network, a total shutdown of the system is virtually impossible. Hence it is always under threat from some work processes as well as third party elements. In order to counter this ever-present threat, a cybersecurity program should be comprehensive and all-encompassing.
  • Risk assessment should be thorough: For the successful implementation of any anti-criminal strategy, threat or risk assessment must be very thorough. The ability to judge and understand the vulnerable spots and plug these loopholes is a critical element of any effective cyber-security strategy.

In fact, even the smallest of threats should be dealt with before they assume bigger proportions. With the constantly evolving nature of online threats and risks, cybersecurity strategies should have a more pro-active and flexible approach to counter them. This also gives rise to the need for constant monitoring which should mandatorily be a part of every cybersecurity program.

  • Emergency response with low TAT:  Even though prevention is any day better than cure, yet despite all the precautions, no threat gets completely annihilated. Hence even after ensuring all parameters are in place, instances of cyber theft are not uncommon. Preparing the cybersecurity program for such exigencies is another critical need for these strategies. The effectiveness of these emergency measures should be proactively tested so that in times of actual need the risk can be dealt with immediately. This prevents peripheral risks from taking interacting with the more critical core technologies.
  • Dedicated resources: Taking into account the fact that cybersecurity is a real-time problem that follows no pattern, ensuring the availability of dedicated recourses helps counter problems quickly. But these resources should be tested for timely intervention by
    • Conducting mock tests of the plan at periodic intervals,
    • Identifying areas of weaknesses,
    • Making the necessary improvements to make it as fool-proof as possible and
    • Educating and updating the employees and personnel involved about new threats, their modus operandi, and countermeasures.

Types of cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is made up of a number of components, all of which are related to computer networks and the internet. Hence every cybersecurity degree should mandatorily include the following components into its syllabus. Because of the vastness of the subject, a piece of knowledge about its components will make it easier for the student to decide which aspect of cybersecurity he wants to specialize in. These components are:

  • Application security which deals with countering any attempt made to transgress the limits of authorization set by their specific security policies.
  • Information security dealing with the prevention of any leakage of confidential data and sensitive information and maintaining data integrity.
  • Network security helps to implement measures taken to ensure the security of different computer networks which are used for inter as well as organizational communication.
  • Business continuity refers to ensuring the effectiveness of all cybersecurity procedures and strategies so that the organization can carry out its functions and operations without disruption.
  • End-user education deals with training, increasing the exposure of and strengthening the weakest link in any organization; it’s working personnel, thereby making them less vulnerable to cyber attacks.

The nature of cybercrimes is very dynamic and keeps changing and evolving to counter new security measures and technologies implemented. Hence every cybersecurity degree should be flexible and adaptive enough to keep evolving and update and upgrade itself to make for better cybersecurity specialists in the future.

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