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What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is the process of protecting computer networks belonging to organizations, government agencies, and non-profits. In New Jersey, there are several pharmaceutical and biotech company headquarters. Business giants, such as Johnson & Johnson, also call the state home.

Cyber security professionals are responsible for protecting these company’s, and other’s, computer networks and proprietary data, as well as their private information. Pharmaceutical companies creating the next medication to help people recover from HIV or COVID-19, or to control the growth of cancer cells, don’t want to see their information stolen by cyber thieves with ill intent.

These professionals are educated and trained to find cyber-threats and make changes to protect the computer networks of an organization. If the organization’s cyber security team is large enough, it may have a security operations center (SOC), which is composed of several levels of cyber security professionals who find, monitor, contain, and remove IT threats.

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Online Cyber Security Education in New Jersey

Left unprotected, the top industries in the state run an unacceptably high risk of data theft or ransomware attacks. Educational, healthcare, and social assistance; finance and insurance; and pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are some of the larger industries in the state and they are at high risk because they present such a tempting target. The huge investment in research and development, the intellectual property, vulnerable data troves, and the interconnected operational and IT networks mean that a cyber thief may find a lucrative haul if they managed to break into these company’s networks and steal or ransom their data. For example, the NotPetya cyber-attack that was carried out on Merck & Co impacted manufacturing, sales, and research all over the world.

Whether large or small, organizations have to stay attentive to attempted breaches so cyber-thieves cannot break in. Schools all over the US have been hit with ransomware attacks (where the computer network is essentially hijacked and made inaccessible until the criminals are paid), and even some hospitals have experiences these types of attacks, which can be very dangerous for patients relying on technology to keep them alive.

Cyber security professionals are required to perform these and other vital functions:

  • Scan and inspect the network for security vulnerabilities
  • Monitor traffic on the network for odd activity
  • Investigate when a breach takes place
  • Install software to be used to protect sensitive information
  • Create reports documenting security breaches
  • Research new security technologies
  • Help end-users if they need to install or learn about new software products and procedures

Online Associate Degree in Cyber Security (AS)

Prospective students considering earning an AS degree in computer science may also plan to transfer to a four-year bachelor’s degree program once they finish their associate degree. These can be focused on computer science or information technology if you aren’t sure where you want to end up in your career, or you can choose a more specific degree in management information systems (MIS), Software or Hardware Engineering, or another related field.

After graduation, students may work at banks or financial institutions, manufacturers, retail chains, utility companies, government agencies, or software and computer organizations. However, they will need to start in the lowest entry-level jobs available and will need quite a bit of experience or a higher degree in order to move up.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Cyber Security (BS)

Students enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security should gain the skills, training, and knowledge they need to work in a variety of positions in this field. Cyber Security is growing rapidly, mainly due to the fact that the occupation is so understaffed. There are open positions that go unfilled every year, and cyber security threats only continue to increase as the world becomes more interconnected.

These programs give students both theoretical and technical skills used in cyber security careers and are well-suited for students who have earned an associate degree in homeland security, business, computer science, or criminal justice. Or you can choose to start with a bachelor’s in cyber security if you already know that is where your interests lie. A bachelor’s can offer more immediate success to those who wish to work in cyber security because there are certifications you can’t earn without this higher-level degree that can be vital to your career.

Some schools offer curriculum created and mapped using guidelines provided by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As they are the largest employer of cyber security personnel in the country, they created the CAE (National Centers of Academic Excellence) standards to help provide themselves and other companies with access to cyber security experts across the country.

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Online Master's Degree in Cyber Security (MS)

Graduate students can enroll in a greater variety of concentrations and focused degrees, such as a Master of Science in Cyber Security and Privacy degree program available from one university in the state. These programs help students gain the skills they need to understand what state-of-the-art capabilities, privacy mechanisms, and cyber security are, how they impact organizations, and how to make the most efficient use of them in day-to-day operations.

Students will learn to adopt a security mindset and how to carry out regular security reviews of systems, infrastructure, and applications.

Another option is for graduate students to earn a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in cyber security or another similar field. They may do so by taking classes on-campus or online, and these programs can help those who wish to move into upper management or those who are knowledgeable about information technology and wish to move from a business degree into an IT management position or similar. While you will likely also need experience, it is possible to make the move and expand your career options.

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Online PhD Degree in Cyber Security (PhD)

One New Jersey university offers a Doctor of Science (DSc) in Civil Security Leadership, Management, and Policy. This program started relatively recently, with students immersing themselves into a civil security doctorate program that can help them reach the pinnacle of their career. Other doctorate degree programs in the field can also help students find their way into research or academia positions and catapult them into the position of expert, no matter their goals.

These programs often offer online course options, though many also require at least some time spent on campus to give the student a chance to meet faculty and form a relationship with their mentor. How much time is required depends on the field you study and the program you attend, but some doctoral programs can take as long as 3-7 years to complete.

Doctoral programs can also obtain support as a National Center of Academic Excellence, as decided by the NSA and DHS, which authorizes research programs, scholarships, and grants to current security professionals participating in an approved DSc program.

Upon completion and graduation from these programs, graduates are ready to hold executive-level responsibility in a high-level security position in business, education, or government.

Become a Cyber Security Professional in New Jersey

After professionals have earned their cyber security degree, they will likely not be done with their learning and studying. After all, current and future employers may require them to earn certifications in cyber security in order to be eligible for certain positions. Here are just some certifications that you might consider if you are just getting into the field.

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  • Certified information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

    This certification comes through the cyber security professional organization ISC2. Professionals who have earned this certification demonstrate that they have the necessary experience in secure IT systems and that they are able to design, launch, and monitor a cyber security program. This certification program is intended for experienced professionals in this field, who want to advance.

    They may work as a:

    • Senior security consultant
    • Information security analyst
    • IT security engineer
    • Security administrator; and
    • Chief information security officer
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

    ISACA, the professional association, offers this credential. Professionals are able to showcase their expertise in determining security vulnerabilities, creating and launching controls, and reporting on compliance. This certification is aimed at mid-level IT professionals who want to advance their careers in roles such as the following.

    • IT audit manager
    • Compliance program manager
    • Cyber security auditor
    • IT project manager
    • Information security analyst
    • IT security engineer
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (EC-Council)

    This certification focuses on penetration testing. It has been designed so the professional candidate’s abilities are tested in realistic scenarios. Once they have earned this certification, IT professionals will be able to proactively test an organization’s computer network, either from the inside or by simulating an outside intruder.

  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

    ISACA also offers this certification. It allows professional candidates to validate their expertise on the management side of information security. They learn about governance, program, incident, and risk management. This certification represents a shift from technical to managerial, allowing candidates to prepare for a promotion in one of the following roles.

    • IT manager
    • Data governance manager
    • Information systems security officer
    • Director of information security
    • Information risk consultant

Careers for Cyber Security Graduates

  • Security Analyst
    A security analyst is responsible for monitoring computer networks to prevent detected attacks on private data held within the network. They launch both software systems and firewalls, which work to protect the data stored within networks. This position may soon be in higher demand as organizations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations rely more and more on digital networks and technology to store data.
  • Information Technology Manager
    Information technology managers oversee the organization’s computing needs and ensure they have regular maintenance. They ensure all computer systems in the organization are operating efficiently, effectively, and securely. This includes software, hardware, computer systems, and related applications.
  • Information Security Manager
    Information security managers help to protect organizations and all information saved to its computer network. Without this professional, cyber-thieves would much more easily be able to break into computer networks. They may oversee an IT team in larger organizations or run cyber security operations by themselves in a smaller company.
  • Network Administrator

    Network administrators make sure the computer networks in an organization are functioning smoothly. They plan and develop, install, configure, maintain, support, and optimize every piece of network hardware, and may also oversee communication links and software.

    They also analyze end-users’ hardware and software computer issues in a timely way, correcting issues, and provide end-user training when required. Administrators may also research network products and services, and support procurement of appropriate software and hardware.

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  • Systems Administrator
    Systems administrators install and configure hardware, software, and computer networks; they monitor system performance and troubleshoot issues; and they make sure the IT infrastructure is secure and working efficiently. This administrator has to be resourceful and able to quickly and accurately diagnose problems.
  • Security Software Engineer
    This engineer works, planning, developing, launching, and maintaining the organization’s overall software security strategy by using various software programs that work together to keep their data and network secure. They use different software security testing methods and techniques in their work. They may review code to improve software security, debug as needed, and offer timely suggestions for any issues.
  • Penetration Tester
    Penetration testers carry out simulated cyber-attacks on computer systems and networks. They are authorized to carry out these tests, which help to identify any security vulnerabilities before true hackers can break in.
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
    This high-level executive is a member of the C-suite and holds responsibility for an organization’s cyber security, protecting their data and information from both internal and external threats.
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