What is Cyber Security?
In the age of technology, businesses are becoming increasingly dependent on storing customer information in the cloud. Whether it is cloud storage for the main office, or a developed application that they offer their clients, businesses store countless pieces of customer data. So, it should go without saying that security protocols to keep this information safe are required. Most businesses do have measures put into place to keep customer information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and home addresses safe, but some businesses are lax in their protection. Combine that with increasingly savvy data thieves and you could have a recipe for disaster if there is a security breach.
A cyber security specialist is the line of defense between a business and cyber-criminals. Businesses have a lot of information that, if it were to fall into the wrong hands, could be detrimental to thousands, even millions of people. Cyber security specialists create safeguards for a businesses data, as well as stopping cyber-attacks. And, once they’ve stopped the attack, they are charged with tracing the attack back to the source if possible. They also work with program and app developers to create programs that are more difficult to hack into and test existing programs to locate areas where breaches could occur so that developers can address weaknesses before they become an issue. In Delaware, many cyber security specialists work in the finance industry, but any business that handles personal data uses IT specialists in all areas.
Cyber Security Education in Delaware
Cyber security specialists are trained to monitor for these risks. If a risk is identified, a specialist is tasked with stopping it in its tracks, and then tracing the risk back to its source. They also help programmers and developers create more tamper-proof data systems that can help to prevent cyber-attacks from happening. Cyber security is considered a branch of information technology, but it’s really more like an umbrella since cyber security is used to keep all parts of IT running smoothly and safely. Those who work in this important field are needed in all industries. Including and especially the financial industry, which is one of Delaware’s biggest industries. But even if you want to work in real estate, construction, or some other industry, if a company stores information and/or offers an app for their customers, professionals are still going to be needed to keep that information safe. So, if this sounds like something you might be interested in pursuing, there is information about the education needed as well as examples of the types of positions you could land once you finish your education in the field of cyber security.
Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)
A two-year degree in in cyber security can be obtained from community colleges or technical training schools. The degree won’t get you too far into a cyber security career, but it will get you in the door of an information technology department and, once you’ve gained employment in the field, you can continue your education so you can achieve the goal of working as a cyber security specialist.
Classes in the programs can vary, but in general, a student can expect to take courses in the following subjects:
- Computer Science
- Information Technology
- Database Administration
- Entry-level Cyber Security Techniques
As stated above, 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, but these jobs are more clerical and administrative than hands on. Higher-level careers may require additional education.
Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)
A bachelor’s degree in cyber security is more often considered the first rung on the ladder to working as a cyber security specialist. For most certifications, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and work experience are required to apply and sit for any required exams. For those who have already attained a two-year degree, the bachelor’s degree builds on that education. Between the additional education and work experience, positions on a cyber security team may become available to graduates, especially if you’ve added specific certifications.
However, while still working on your four-year degree, you will study the following areas:
- Data Security
- System Administration
- Computer Science
Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS or MC)
At the graduate level, students are choosing areas of study that are specific to their career goals. So, for someone who wants to become a cyber security specialist, the classes will be based mainly in cyber security for programming and networks. These programs tend to vary by school, so there isn’t a set curriculum to point to, but it is safe to assume that some of the courses studied previously will be revisited at a higher level and more vigorously.
At this stage, a person enrolled in a graduate program probably has several years of work experience as well as several certifications in the information technology field already under their belt. If looked-for opportunities to work in cyber security have not already presented themselves, enrolling in a graduate program should create additional opportunities. This experience as well as the graduate degree also opens up the option of teaching at local colleges and universities. Finally, many cyber security specialists that are employed in the finance industry couple their IT experience with a Masters in Business Administration, which gives them an advantage since they understand both the information technology side as well as the business side of the importance of cyber security.
PhD Degree in Cyber Security (PhD)
For the most part, a cyber security specialist does not need a doctorate degree to advance to the top of his field. However, if you plan to transition to the classroom and teach full-time, a doctorate will make you eligible for tenured positions at colleges and universities or to run research labs at a college.
Become a Cyber Security Professional in Delaware
Very few professions have as clear a path to move through the ranks as those who work in information technology. For those who want to become cyber security specialists, that path is straightforward. The first position for anyone working in information technology is to become a support specialist if they need experience and then an administrator. This can be in networking, systems, or security. While holding this position, continuing your education is important because you will need at least a bachelor’s degree to move forward in your career. After four to five years of work experience as an administrator, you can take the Computer Information System Security Professional (CISSP) exam and apply for acceptance into the (ICP)2 organization.
The next move up the ladder for you might be to work as a security engineer, security analyst, security auditor, or security consultant. Several years of experience working as an administrator as well as CISSP certification might be required for some positions. At this stage, you might want to consider adding Management Information System (MIS) certification to your resume. Working in a parallel position as a specialist gives you more experience in different areas of information technology and will make you a more well-rounded specialist when the opportunity arises. Potential employers will look at this favorably because you will be more familiar with various cyber security issues.
After several years of working in cyber security, opportunities for management positions may begin to present themselves. You will be qualified for positions such as IT project manager, security architect, and security manager. After several years or working at that level then the position of cyber security director is within reach. At this point you have attained the highest level in the cyber security field and only report to the chief information security officer (CISO) or the chief operations officer (COO). This could also be a good time to branch out into academia if that is something that interests you, especially if you finished your doctorate in information technology.
Careers for Cyber Security Graduates
There are many different employment opportunities for those who want to work in cyber security. Below are some of the most popular as well as in-demand careers in cyber security.
- Security Analyst
As a security analyst, you’ll monitor computer and network systems for risks and create and implement preventative measures to identify and prevent data breaches. Your job is to mitigate the risk level of these breaches wherever possible. This is done by running diagnostic tests to check for vulnerable areas in a system so developers can create applications that are as safe and secure as possible for the businesses and individuals who use them.
- Information Technology Manager
Information technology managers, also referred to as info tech or IT managers, oversee a company’s information technology department. They ensure that that the entire information technology department runs smoothly and is fully staffed with the most knowledgeable people. When an issue does arise, the IT manager is responsible for ensuring that the right technicians are dispatched to solve the issue and that it happens in a timely manner.
- Information Security Manager
An Information security manager oversees the security of the IT department. The IS manager collaborates with the IT manager to make sure the department runs without issues and as smoothly as possible. In the event of a breach, the security manager is expected to locate the breach, remove the issue, and repair the damage as then implement steps to prevent a future breach.
- Network Administrator
Network administrators run the network for an IT department. They are in charge of the smooth operation of both internal and external networking systems. When issues arise, the network admin creates a solution to fix the issue.
- 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.
- Security Architect
A security architect builds security systems. They analyze the needs of the company, the resources of the information technology department, and use this information to create a system that meets all the requirements needed.
- Penetration Tester
The job of a penetration tester is to try and break into networks and programs in the same manner as a hacker would. By finding the areas that can be breached, programmers and developers can create stronger systems that won’t be so easily breaches through cyber-attacks.
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
A chief information security officer leads the information technology department within a company. All sections of the IT department often report to a CISO. CISO’s reports to a VP such as the chief operating officer. A CISO has worked their way up in IT departments and have an understanding regarding how departments should work together and knows how to create teams that will keep a company’s information technology department running smoothly.