What is Cyber Security?
Indiana is many things. Depending on who you ask, Indiana might be a great basketball state. Others might point out Indiana's prominent corn production or its other agricultural products. Still others may focus on Iowa's burgeoning tech sector and its role in the Silicon Prairie, even how they rival Silicon Valley in some respects. While it is all of these things, Indiana is also a terrific state in which to work as a cyber security expert.
A cyber security specialist is a computing professional who works to help protect digital assets from bad actors, also known as black hat hackers. There are many sorts of cyber security specialists, as well as many clients they may work with. For the most part, cyber security specialists work with private companies such as hospitals, banks, and more. Their careers may take the form of long-term employment with firms or law enforcement, but many also work as independent consultants who help out individuals and corporations to shore up their cyber security protocols.
A cyber security specialist is part criminal justice worker and part computer scientist. That is, they seek to thwart cyber-attacks but they also investigate successful cyber-attacks. Forensic cyber security professionals can work with law enforcement agencies, including the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security, but many also work with private companies, who in turn may collaborate with law enforcement to root out the black hat hackers.
After all, all of the state's top industries need their databases and networks secure from outside bad guys who seek to deplete accounts or steal keen ideas. Since the state's economy is led by manufacturing for the automotive sector, each factory needs top notch security to shore up all parts of the supply chain. Hackers might try to break into a facility's systems in order to install ransomware. This bit of malware will hijack a factory until millions are paid to gain entry back into their own systems. Without a cyber security expert on hand, those black hat hackers might get away with their crimes. Instead, they may either be thwarted in their attempts to crack a facility's firewall or they can be tracked by cyber forensics experts who can track bitcoin transactions.
Cyber Security Education in Indiana
The automotive industry is such a huge part of the economy that it's important for Indiana's manufacturing concerns to maintain a pool of highly qualified cybersecurity experts. To meet this need, Iowa's educational system has risen to the call. Not only do the state's educators understand the need for top-notch cyber security professionals, but they also need to be versed in the technologies that matter most in the Indiana economy. Thus, they are often trained in topics such as penetration testing, the internet of things, network security, and database security.
In fact, a student can begin their computer science education in an Indiana high school and then continue on in one of the state's many colleges and universities. When cyber security experts begin their journey to excellence while in high school, they will be ready for any challenge that faces them in their career. From there, Indiana's educational system can prepare students in a specialized bachelor's cybersecurity degree program and then through their graduate coursework. Some even achieve a PhD in cyber security, or a related specialty area.
Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)
More and more community colleges are adding cybersecurity to their list of associate degree offerings. In fact, many of these associate cybersecurity degree programs have earned a designation as a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) from a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA. Other community college degree programs have ABET accreditation and most hold regional accreditation.
Students who choose a community college for their first college degree are wise to do so. Credits from a community college are typically more affordable than those from a four-year institution. Further, every associate degree will include the entire core curriculum required by most four-year institutions. Even better, community colleges are working with their larger cohorts to ensure that associate cyber security degree holders can transfer all of their credits and enter as third year students ready to focus on a baccalaureate cybersecurity degree.Read More about an Associates in Cybersecurity
Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)
Cybersecurity students are wise to pursue a bachelor's cyber security degree as their launchpad into a career. This is because most four-year programs have more to offer than what students might find at a community college. The upper-level courses will help them tackle difficult topics in the field and help them form a strong basis for later problem solving, even as technology and black hat hackers' methods evolve. Students can then pursue these important areas in their master’s cyber security degree programs. Bachelor's degree students often find more opportunities for internships and four-year colleges may also attract better firms for career fairs where recruiters seek the best cyber security professionals.
Not only are the cybersecurity course offerings more challenging and rigorous but students can branch out and earn a minor concentration in a related field. Many cybersecurity students will want to consider a minor in computer science or mathematics. In fact, many will find their cyber security degree program nested inside a computer science department.Read More about a Bachelors in Cybersecurity
Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS or MC)
A master’s cyber security degree is perhaps the best way to launch a cyber security career to the next level. During the course of a master’s cyber security degree program, students can focus their efforts on specific topics such as cryptography, forensic investigation, or database security, to name a few possibilities. Students might also consider tackling a master’s degree in mathematics which will be invaluable when it comes to cryptography, a key part of any cyber security protocol.
Another option for cyber security professionals is an MBA. While this may seem like a divergence, MBA programs help cyber security professionals learn the business side of their organizations. Cyber security professionals can then graduate and start their own consulting firms or rise through the ranks of management in their current organization. There are also dual MBA programs where students can complete a master’s cybersecurity degree alongside their business program. These accelerated programs can graduate students in a mere three years.Read More about a Masters in Cybersecurity
PhD Degree in Cyber Security (PhD)
The world of computer science is incredibly diverse. There are top cyber security experts who are wholly self-taught and then there are many PhDs who work alongside them. For those who choose traditional education, a PhD is a worthy goal, especially for those in cyber security. This is because the field is very important and it demands the very best. The degree also provides a solid credential that employers seek for new employees.
Those with a PhD will find that their employment options won't involve a hard transition from the ivory tower to the boardroom. In fact, many doctorate degree holders find gainful employment researching their field. Essentially, they are able to continue their dissertation work in a highly paid position. Some top specialties for a PhD in cyber security are cryptography, leadership, cyber security architecture, and security management, among other options.
Finally, a cyber security PhD enables students to pursue a career in academia. This top degree is preferred by most computer science departments and holders will find that they are eligible for tenure track positions. Many cyber security PhDs might land university positions where they are able to continue their research. Many take this route which might open up more private-sector opportunities later on.
Become a Cyber Security Specialist in Indiana
When people think of Indiana, they might first think of basketball and cornfields. However, the Hoosier State is home to a diverse and rapidly evolving economy that needs cyber security professionals more and more each day. The state has a strong manufacturing and finance sectors, after all, which are often the target of hackers. Youngsters and mid-career professionals alike thus may be curious as to how they can become a cyber security professional in Indiana.
Many Indiana cyber security professionals start their path early in life. As youngsters, they might be intrigued with how hackers are portrayed in film and television. They may even have friends or parents who have been victim of a hacking operation. These things can combine to create a passion for information security. What's then needed is a passion for the nitty gritty of the deep technical side of cyber security.
When it comes time for high school, cyber security aficionados should strive to take the highest available mathematics courses available. They should also try to attend an Indiana high school that offers computer courses including programming. If their high school doesn't offer these courses, they can always take affordable courses online. Many of these courses can lead to professional certifications with top firms such as Oracle and Microsoft.
Students who have their heart set on a career in cyber security should seek out a bachelor's cybersecurity degree program from a program designated as a CAE by the Department of Homeland Security and the NSA. These programs have been vetted by those top federal agencies to provide the very best instruction for budding cyber security professionals. These programs may also have affiliations with those programs that include internships. An internship with the DHS, NSA, CIA, or FBI could lead to a terrific career later on. In fact, some federal law enforcement agencies award hefty scholarships and fellowships to top Indiana cyber security students.
Careers for Cyber Security Graduates
- Security Analyst:
A security analyst keeps close tabs on the systems they oversee. They look for any flaws in the security network and research new security software that might help create a more secure system. Some security analysts work as independent contractors who are called upon to assess a company's systems and make recommendations for tighter cyber security. They might work alongside others who can perform the installations and tests.
- Penetration Tester:
These cyber security professionals are often called white hat hackers. This is because their job is to attempt to hack into a system in order to report on its vulnerabilities. Penetration testers often have many years of experience in cyber security and a master’s degree. After all, they need to be as good as or better than the world's black hat hackers who seek to rob and destroy companies.
- Network Administrator:
This is a terrific job for new information technology or computer science graduates. These computing professionals work hard to oversee their networks. Generally, they seek to maintain network traffic so that everyone can access the files they need. They may also have special cyber security training and may perform security tests on a regular basis.
- Information Technology Manager:
After many years in an IT department, many receive a promotion into management. IT managers may rely on their experience alone or they might have an MBA in management or leadership that rockets them from management into the C-suites. In these positions, they oversee every aspect of a firm's IT picture, including software and hardware issues.
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO):
This is the top-level for cyber security executives. To attain this position, most will earn an MBA and perhaps a master’s cyber security degree. They oversee the entire cyber security picture for their corporation and may have many IT managers who report to them. The CISO of a corporation is the final authority when it comes to installing new cybersecurity protocols, hardware, etc.
- Information Security Manager:
InfoSec managers are a vital part of any corporate cyber security picture. They oversee a team of infosec professionals who monitor the networks, carry out research projects, and more. In a large corporate structure there may be many infosec managers who all report to the CISO. To excel in this position, it is recommended that professionals earn a master’s cybersecurity degree and/or an MBA with a concentration in computer science or cybersecurity.
- Cloud Information Security Engineer:
As people and corporations have developed a need for more and more storage for their data, cloud computing arose to provide a solution. Naturally, cyber-criminals have turned their eyes to these cloud storage systems in hopes of cracking their security and downloading terabytes of valuable information. A cloud information security engineer therefore puts in long hours to secure the databases so that their client's data is always secure.
These cyber security professionals are highly skilled mathematicians who create ways to hide information behind encrypted walls. They also devise ways for people to communicate without prying eyes knowing what's transpiring. Encoded data is increasingly valued and highly qualified cryptographers are often highly paid.
Computer Science Degrees & Career Paths