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What is Cyber Security?

Every business wants to keep their data safe. If a business stores important customer info such as location, credit card numbers, or even their birthday or social security number, all risks must be minimized. A cyber breach, either due to accident or a cyber-attack could be a death knell to a business. Therefore, many businesses have a cyber security division as part of their information technology department. Cyber security is a growing field that’s only going to increase in both importance and demand as the world increasingly embraces technology. When everyone is walking around with a computer system in the palm of their hand, the programs and applications that run it must be protected from attack.

After all, not only are there more and more issues with cyber security, but the country, and indeed the world, is currently facing a shortage of well-trained experts in cyber security. If you choose to get into the field now, you will have your choice of nearly any industry and any position in the field you want as the shortage of workers in cyber security is in the millions. Even if you choose to move out of the state or country, there will still be plenty of positions available to you. This will last until someone solves all the holes in our cyber security systems or all of the open positions are filled.

A cyber security specialist is part of an organization’s information technology department. The position usually reports directly to either the security director, chief information security officer (CISO), or the chief operating officer (COO). A cyber security specialist may be tasked with implementing and running the security framework that keeps an organization’s network and electronic data safe from cyber-invasion. This most often means working as part of a team of IT techs, making sure the network they created is as secure as possible and used the correct technology to protect it and ensuring company employees know how to recognize a possible threat. Specialists are well educated, often hold several IT certifications, and have been working in the IT and cyber security fields for at least five to 10 years. Although they are referred to as cyber security specialists throughout in this brief, those in this position could also hold a variety of titles within the cyber security field, including the title deputy information security director, information assurance officer, or senior IT manager, depending on their experience and certifications.

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Online Cyber Security Education in Colorado

Getting a cyber security degree in Colorado is an excellent option for someone looking for a career with decent income potential and job security. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 126,000 workers in the computer field in Colorado, with just over 11,000 of them working in cyber security. And demand is expected to increase over the next 10 years. Considering Colorado has thriving industries in real estate, educational services, and information, a career as a cyber security specialist is something that is attainable and likely to put you in a very good position if you choose to work within the state. And it’s also profitable; the average salary for a cyber security employee is $85,000. Whether you want to work in the finance industry or anywhere else, a job in cyber security is a great option for anyone who wants to earn a great wage, have plenty of potential for promotions, and excellent job security for years to come.

Online Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)

Associate degrees are two-year programs that can be offered by a community, technical college, or a traditional college. depending on the program, students might study the following

  • Computer Science
  • Information Technology
  • Database Administration
  • Entry-level Cyber Security Courses

A two-year degree can qualify a person to work in an entry-level position in information technology as part of a cyber security team. In most cases, these positions would entail assistant or research duties. To progress in a career, more education is required.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)

Bachelor degree programs are four-year programs that students can attain from colleges and universities. This degree is often an entry-level requirement that workers in cyber security need to start advancing in their careers.

While pursuing a degree, students might be required to take these courses:

  • Data Security
  • System Administration
  • Computer Science
  • Statistics

It is at this level where an employee earns work experience which can enable them to get certifications. Some certifications may even require that you have a bachelor’s degree before they will let you sit for the exam. However, there are a few that only require an associate degree.

Online Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS or MC)

Master programs vary depending on the degree and the school. Most programs have a comprehensive exam and/or project that must be completed as part of the graduation requirement. At this point, a person working in cyber security should have several certifications (depending on their area of expertise) and their graduate degree should complement that expertise. Positions as managers, consultants, and highly paid specialists would be within their grasp at this point.

Teaching is also an option for those who are interested in education. And, considering education is one of Colorado’s largest industries, this is a career worth considering. Many specialists, especially those who are working in the financial or banking areas of security combine their tech education with a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). This enables them to understand the data process from both a user and tech perspective.

Online PhD Degree in Cyber Security (PhD)

Although this is an option, unless a cyber security professional plan to transition into teaching on the collegiate level, it generally is not required to advance in the field. Those who are interested in research or positions with companies that research cyber security may want to look into a PhD if they have a specific plan in mind, but, otherwise, this degree only provides a foundation for increased responsibility in educational positions.

Become a Cyber Security Professional in Colorado

The path to get to the position of cyber security specialist and beyond is straightforward. There is some wiggle room regarding the positions held prior to high-level positions. You might first become an administrator, either in security, networking, or systems. While in this position, you should attain a bachelor’s and possibly a master’s degree, if possible, before taking an administration job. After four to five years of experience working as an administrator, employees can take the Computer Information System Security Professional (CISSP) examination and apply for acceptance into the (ICP)2 organization.

Once those goals are satisfied, the next step might be to work as a security analyst, security engineer, security consultant, or a security auditor. These positions require a person with several years of experience working as an administrator and, most likely, a CISSP certification. Also, this is a good time to attain another certification in management information systems (MIS). Taking a parallel position before becoming a specialist offers additional experience and make you more attractive to employers who want specialists who are familiar with several cyber security issues.

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After several years of experience in one or more of the above positions, management positions will begin to open. Some of the possibilities include security manager, IT project manager, or security architect. Once you have worked in one or more of these positions for several years, the possibility of becoming a cyber security director or holding another higher-level position is within reach. At this point you have reached the upper echelon in cyber security, reporting only to the chief information security officer (CISO) or chief operations officer (COO). If you have any interest in teaching on an upper education level, this is a prime position to have to make the transition into academia, especially is you attained a terminal degree such as a doctorate.

Careers for Cyber Security Graduates

There are many careers in the cyber security industry. Below are some of the more popular careers a person with a cyber security education can consider. The positions are in information technology, networking, and security and sometimes a combination of different areas.

  • Security Analyst
    A security analyst monitors a system for risk and creates preventative measures to mitigate the risk level where possible. They run diagnostic tests to check for vulnerabilities in a system so administrators and developers can create more secure and safe applications and programs for businesses and individuals.
  • Information Technology Manager
    Information technology managers, aka info tech or IT managers run the information technology department of a company. They are responsible for making sure all areas of a network including the hardware, software, and equipment run smoothly. When issues arise, they are responsible for ensuring the issues are handled by the proper technicians and that the department runs as smoothly as possible.
  • Information Security Manager
    The Information security manager is in charge of the security of the technology department. This person often works in tandem with the IT manager to make sure the network is running smoothly as well as safely without security issues. When there is a breach, the security manager is responsible for finding the breach, removing the issue, and repairing the damage as well as implementing steps to keep a breach from occurring again.
  • Network Administrator
    Network administrators run the network for an IT department. They keep the company connected both internally as well as externally and make sure the system runs smoothly. Where there is an issue, the network administrator creates a solution to fix the issue. They constantly monitor the current network and create new ways for the network to be more inclusive and innovative.
  • Information Security Analyst
    An information security analyst evaluates if the current system is keeping information safe and secure, and where there are breaches, creates solutions to remove the issues.
  • Penetration Tester
    A penetration tester spends their days trying to find the weak spot in a company’s information technology network. The attempts are to find the problem areas so they can be addressed before an outside force can possibly cause a breach in the system. Penetration specialists have to keep up to date with the latest hacking trends and use them to help a company secure their systems. When a weak spot of located, the specialist can help create solutions to fix the issue.
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
    The chief information security officer is the head of the security and sometimes the entire information technology department. All sections of the IT department often report to this person. They oversee making sure the network runs properly and that it is secure. The CISO reports to the board or a VP such as the chief operating officer. The CISO has at one point worked in all of the IT departments and therefore has a complete grasp on how the departments should work together and understands how to create a team that will keep a company’s information technology department running smoothly.

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