2020 has become a digital age in the true sense of the term. But increased digitization often increases the vulnerability to hacks and cybercrimes as well. Therefore, it is safe to say that skill sets in cybersecurity are high in demand. So, if you are wondering whether a cybersecurity degree is your cup of tea or not, read on to find out what it means in today’s world.
Understanding Cybersecurity as a Subject
The Cybersecurity learning program is different from the standard IT security degree course. In other words, it teaches you, specifically, how to protect the computer networks, operating systems, and data from hackers or cyber-attacks. During the course of the program you are taught how to effectively monitor systems in order to avoid and handle any threats as and when they may occur. In a cybersecurity degree program, your aim is to learn and develop digital skills needed to effectively protect data as well as privacy.
The Need for Cybersecurity Experts
Growing trends in cybersecurity indicate that protection is required not just by companies but also by customers.
Enterprises are vulnerable in their network, infrastructure, breach detection, etc. For instance, network endpoint security requires protection at remote device level as well. These devices continuously connect to your corporate networks posing a serious security vulnerability.
Likewise, infrastructure hardening is the need of the hour. Businesses must ensure that its various components like, database systems, application server, web servers, etc. are sufficiently secured at all times.
Therefore, businesses require cybersecurity experts, not just for breach detection, but also for protection and forensic investigation ensuring effective recovery of data in case they are exposed to a cybercrime.
Unfortunately, cybercrime, data breaches, and online security threats are not just limited to large enterprises. Malware can encrypt user data as well in the form of Ransomware and severe data breaches can occur if an unauthorized person gains access to your private information.
Cybersecurity Degree Programs
Considering the above arguments, it is safe to say that a cyber security degree will help you establish a long-lasting career in this field.
However, IT security as a whole, is a very recent discipline. Therefore, there are not too many educational institutions offering comprehensive and focused cybersecurity programs. In fact, not all of them will include the same subjects either.
Any effective cybersecurity degree must include the following subjects in its course:
- Introductory programming as well as basic scripting lessons.
- Comprehensive Big Data analysis
- Dedicated modules on cyber defense as well as cyber threats
- Introduction to Cryptography
- Fundamentals of Security Design Principles
- Basic understanding of IT systems, networking concepts, and systems administration
- Comprehensive learning of information assurance fundamentals
- In Depth understanding of policy, ethics, legal, and compliance.
These must be a part of the cybersecurity degree that you are seeking to pursue. Other modules like forensic accounting, cryptography, cloud computing, typically, form a part of Master’s programs.
Things to Keep in Mind while Scouting for Cyber Security Degree Programs
Apart from the above-mentioned points, make sure that there are enough courses offering hands-on training. This will be beneficial when you start working in your job. Mainly because Cybersecurity as a subject cannot be learned in the isolation of a classroom training. The students must be exposed to real-life scenarios as well. It is important to develop your skills at every opportunity you get.
Also, make sure that the tutors and instructors come with a good mix of academic and industry knowledge.
Moreover, Cybersecurity degrees are like any other degree programs and require a good amount of your time and dedication.
A bachelor’s degree can take anywhere between three years to four years to complete and master’s programs can take up to 2 years. In case you want to pursue a PhD then this can take anywhere between 3-5 years.
Prerequisites for Admission in Cybersecurity courses
Different universities and institutions may have different admission criteria.
Broadly speaking, if you are seeking an entrance into a bachelor’s degree program, then you must have the following –
Valid English language certificates (IELTS, TOEFL), a couple of letters of recommendation, academic transcripts (minimum GPA – 3.0), personally composed statement of academic intent and an online interview.
The admission requirements for a master’s program can be slightly different. For instance, most institutions insist that you should have completed a Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, computer science, IT security, or another relevant qualification.
Online Cybersecurity Degrees
With more and more institutions offering a host of courses and degrees online, it has become easier than ever to take an online course in Cybersecurity. This is especially helpful if you are working alongside your education. It gives you the flexibility to study from home and at your convenience. Further, the cost of online courses is typically just a fraction of on-campus courses.
However, it is essential to carry out extensive research before you shortlist the program that you want to go ahead with. Make sure that you verify the accreditations of the institution as well as the course before you enlist.
A Career as a Cybersecurity Specialist
At the offset, it is essential to understand that the job of a cybersecurity specialist is not confined to office hours only. Threats can come at any time and you are required to prevent them with dedication at all hours.
Other than this, you must be aware of the developments in this field and ensure that your skills are up to date at all times. The best way to do this is to tune your mind to think like a hacker – stay inquisitive and prevent attacks.
The ever growing-need for cybersecurity experts have led to a considerable shortage globally. and as the requirements go up this shortage is only likely to increase. Irrespective of the sector or the industry your business belongs to, you are exposed to IT and its various threats.
Organizations are struggling to attract skilled and experienced talent. This has resulted in high salaries across various job profiles relating to Cyber security specialists.
Popular cyber security job profiles include cryptographer, security engineer, information security officer, security assessor, penetration tester, security administrator, and forensics expert.
The salary of a cryptographer can be as much as $100,000. This is of course at the high-end after spectrum. At the bottom end of the spectrum, a security administrator can easily land a job earning $65,000 annually.
Finally, if you are serious about beginning your career as a Cybersecurity specialist, then, a degree course in Cybersecurity can be an excellent addition to your profile. This is, indeed, one of the most challenging careers. However, its dynamic nature will ensure that you grow and learn as your progress. So, there is not time like the present to do your research and begin an online course in cybersecurity to land your dream job.