Cyber security is the study of technology and techniques for protecting computer-based devices and electronic systems from malicious attacks. Also known as information technology security, the field of cyber security is critical to modern economies. The Nebraska economy, like other states, is evolving as it increases its utilization of computer-based technologies. For this reason, the leading colleges and universities in the state offer undergraduate majors and master’s degrees in cyber security.
The leading Nebraska economic sectors are fields with high technology integration like healthcare, professional business services, and manufacturing. Finance and insurance is another important Nebraska economic sector that has high rates of computer and information technology use. The Nebraska economy has high demand for cyber security graduates and Nebraskan industries offer opportunities for development of hands-on technical skills in cyber operations for undergraduate students and graduate capstone projects.
Cyber Security Education in Nebraska
Databases, networks, and software systems are vulnerable to unwanted entry and use. As the state’s economy shifts to greater online and cyber-powered operations, the risk of hacking and unwanted intrusions becomes more urgent. The field of cyber security addresses threats to databases, networks, and information technology systems.
For Nebraska students this is a great time to enter the field of cyber security. By obtaining a cyber security degree in Nebraska, students can enter a high demand field that continues to grow. The best cyber security schools in Nebraska provide theory, specializations, and practical experience. For example, students can take focused credit hours of education and become a cyber security analyst. Students can also concentrate in critical areas like network infrastructure and network configuration or test programs as a specialist in network penetration.
A cyber security specialist is a highly trained computer science professional. Specialists operate to protect computer hardware and software systems by performing security audits. Audits ensure that systems and hardware perform as intended, do not have malicious code or malware, and are accurate.
Cyber security specialist examine systems and determine their safety from malicious attacks. The important roles of the security specialist include maintaining efficient, safe, and secure operations, and watching for emerging and future threats. Cyber security specialists also provide support to system users within the organization. This role is critical since threats can come from within the organization and sometimes unintentionally.
System monitoring provides a constant assessment of the status of operations. Reports of system events help identify problems and vulnerabilities. Cyber security specialists must understand and implement best practices to promote system security and specialists must have education, training, and certification to reflect the current state of knowledge and current threats.
Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)
A cybersecurity associate degree is typically a sixty-credit hour program. The course requirements include general education and information security studies for those who major in cyber security. Students can complete the course of study in two years of full-time study. The requirements for admission include a high school diploma or equivalent and courses in science, mathematics, and English.
Associate degrees are an entry-level educational achievement. Graduates can qualify for roles like cyber security analysts and can gain experience and broaden their scope by taking certifications. However, they may advance more quickly if they continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree.
A two-year program might focus on job preparedness and an applied science approach. Students seeking a four-year degree can take an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science path. A program might offer concentrations in specific areas of study including network security, information security, and computer systems security.
Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)
The bachelor’s degree in cyber security is an entry-level educational credential. Students will build on programming knowledge with computer science, network security, communications, and ethics. The typical program requires between 120 and 125 credit hours. Full-time students can complete the degree in four years. Nebraska students can pursue a bachelor’s degree in person, online, or in a hybrid format.
A bachelor’s degree includes general education and studies in communications and English. Students in this major can benefit from strong backgrounds in mathematics, computer science, and programming. Students can use elective courses to add a focus on one or more specialized areas of cyber security such as network security or forensics.
Undergraduate education combines computer science, information security, and network security. Students can use undergraduate course selection to prepare for certifications that will establish expertise that employers seek.
Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS or MC)
A Master of Science in Cybersecurity is a two-year course of study assuming full-time attendance. Students will take courses such as Foundations of Information Assurance, Risk Management, Network Security, and Forensics and Network Intrusion. Students with prior experience in cyber security will likely have advantages in admission and coursework.
An MBA with a cyber security concentration is a valuable combination. Corporations use data and have integrated networks into their operations. Those with an MBA can fill important roles in corporations, and those with cyber security experience are even more necessary.
A master’s degree in cyber security or MBA with a concentration in cyber security can open more career paths in the expanding field of cyber security, whether your undergraduate degree was in computer science or not. As cyber-threats emerge and the expansion of computer and information technology continues, new roles will continue to open up in the field.
A master’s degree in cyber security is an excellent choice for holders of bachelor’s degrees in related fields like mathematics, computer science, and engineering. Students can also use elective courses to develop a specialty. Popular specializations include networking, data science, information architecture, and others. Students can work in specialist careers like penetration testing or forensic analysis.
PhD Degree in Cyber Security (PhD)
A PhD in cyber security is an opportunity to establish expertise. The typical program at this level requires about 60 to 75 credit hours of coursework, and the core of the program will likely center on statistics and analytics. Students must complete exams, research projects, and defend a doctoral dissertation.
The growth of threats in the cyber sphere puts PhD holders in an interesting position. They will be able to study in a mix of academic and real-world issues in order to fully understand some facet of cyber security. Doctoral studies can create a depth of understanding and knowledge in one or more areas of cyber security. Since the field is relatively new, students can take advantage of opportunities to teach while completing the degree and networking among cyber security professionals and organizations.
A PhD is important as an educational resource. PhDs must teach he next generation of doctoral candidates and provide instruction to cyber security majors and graduate students. A PhD is a pathway to educational roles, policy leadership, and advanced research.
Become a Cyber Security Professional in Nebraska
Education, experience, and certifications are proven methods for becoming a cyber security professional in Nebraska. Entry-level positions often require at least a bachelor’s degree, and more complex roles may ask for master’s degrees and related experience. Certifications will enhance educational attainment and demonstrate knowledge and ability to employers, educational institutions, and the government.
Graduates should take steps to gain experience. Students can perform capstone projects and use internship opportunities to get hands-on experience. Or you can use work experience as your main path toward your career goals in cyber security. Cyber security is a relatively new field, and it grows as technology growth and innovation add new tools for businesses and organizations and dangers from outside or inside threats and risks. Students and professionals must keep abreast of developments in the field if they want to succeed.
Cyber security jobs offer high income and opportunities for advancement. Experience is a distinguishing factor for job selection. Graduates can combine cyber security expertise with other skill sets. For example, an MBA with cyber security concentration is an appealing combination for many types of organizations and corporations. Management tasks increasingly involve cyber security considerations.
Nebraska does not have a general business license requirement but those who wish to begin their own business will need to register with the Nebraska Secretary of State, for business income taxes, sales tax, and payroll taxes with the Nebraska Department of Revenue.
Accreditation is another component of career advancement and becoming a cyber security professional in Nebraska. The NSA and DHS declare some schools National Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE), which is a leading credential accreditation for cyber security. Studying in a program approved as a CAE school will add value to your educational and work experience. Graduates from CAE schools can enter prestigious positions in government agencies that might not be as accessible to those who graduate from other programs.
Careers for Cyber Security Graduates
- Security Analyst is a broad category of cyber security professionals; their precise role depends on the size and type of organization. The duties typically include applying programming knowledge, analytical ability, and insightful thinking to maintaining systems and anticipating potential attacks and interruptions. They often have responsibility for controlling access to systems and supporting users by resolving issues. Security analyst positions range from entry-level to advanced threat mitigation roles.
- Security Engineer is the security professional responsible for keeping security systems online and in good operating condition. Security engineers develop and carry out tests and install new security steps and features. Engineers must plan upgrades to keep the system current and protected, troubleshoot systems, and respond to failures and security events.
- Network Engineers establish whatever is necessary for networking. They design system configurations, oversee installations, and define system standards. Network engineers must assess existing systems and needs, as well as develop, design, and install solutions that improve resilience. Network engineers set standards and methods for enforcing them.
- Information Technology Directors are senior-level executives that oversee and evaluate technology operations for an organization. The IT Director conducts evaluations of technology and organization goals. In the corporate setting, they work across organizational lines, analyze requirements, and determine appropriate technology solutions. The Director manages the IT infrastructure and aligns their tasks with organizational goals.
- Cloud Information Security Engineer are the organizational security professionals responsible for securing cloud infrastructure, platforms, and software. Cloud based systems provide vital levels of capacity, flexibility, and security. Security engineers develop and carry out security protocols to protect sensitive files and information from unwanted intrusion and access. Cloud information security requires cloud information system building, system upgrades, and continuous improvement and assessments.
- Security Software Engineers specialize in security measures for computer-based systems. Software engineers take a leading role in designing, testing, and installing an organization’s security tools. Advanced applications help protect organizational information technology, and the security software engineer works to prevent interruptions by implementing security solutions like firewalls and intrusion detection systems.
- Security Architects are mid-level to senior-level managers that help design and install system networks. They support operations throughout the life cycle of the network. These highly trained security experts apply a deep understanding of risks, security technology, and operating software. Security architects must use superior communication skills to work with organizational personnel on protocols, cryptography, and security.
- Penetration Testers are ethical hackers that use the techniques of malicious hackers to test systems for vulnerability and resilience. Penetration testing is essential to system and network security because this vigorous testing reveals weaknesses that real world hackers can exploit. Penetration testers reinforce the continuous assessment and resilience testing process. Penetration testing is an important tool for detecting emerging threats and testers must have a broad expertise in programming, best practices, and more.
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is the top information security official in an organization. These highly trained senior-level professionals hold C-suite roles in the corporate setting. CISOs share the responsibility of maintaining the organizational goals and protecting information assets and information technology. The CISO must develop and carry out the information security program, as well as issuing policies and procedures, and performing oversight functions.