Why Cybersecurity Jobs Are in Demand

02/02/2021

All About Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is something that didn’t even exist 40 years ago. As the world makes a bigger digital footprint, the need for cybersecurity is growing more and more evident by the day. Cybersecurity aims to protect anyone who uses a phone, tablet, or computer.

Let’s take a closer look at cybersecurity. We’ll outline why it’s important, how you can make your career in this field, and what happens if cybersecurity is overlooked.

But first, what is it?

data security

What is Cybersecurity?

The best way to think about cybersecurity is by imagining that it’s a security guard for computer activities. Cybersecurity is different technologies, programs, and ideas that protect people and companies. It keeps information safe that’s stored on a computer, on the internet, or any device.

The main focus of cybersecurity is to keep personal and business information out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have access. It protects not only your online presence but also your local computer. Any electronic device relies on cybersecurity to keep it operational and keep the user, and user data, safe.

Cybersecurity is a general term that has many niches under it. It not only refers to the act of staying safe with your electronics, but it also applies to a career choice.

Cybersecurity as a career means employing and developing programs and tech that keep computers safe.

Why is Cybersecurity Important?

Cybersecurity is one of the most important fields of study today. Think about every time you use the internet. Now imagine someone has direct access to that information.

It might not seem like a big deal for some people, but think about it this way: Hospitals, government agencies, and substantial corporate entities use computers non-stop. More importantly, they’re storing classified and sensitive information on these computers. If this information goes out to the public, who knows how many lives will be ruined.

Social security numbers, credit card info, addresses, banking information, and passwords to different sites are all up for grabs without proper cybersecurity.

In simple terms, cybersecurity keeps everyone safe.

cyber security team

Types of Cybersecurity

Since cybersecurity is such a general term, let’s dive into some more specifics. Let’s look at different types of cybersecurity and what kind of work is done in each variety.

Application Security

Application security is referencing the apps that can be downloaded on a smartphone or tablet. The prevalence of mobile banking and in-app purchases requires a lot of security to keep financial information secure. Most often, attacks on an app are aimed at stealing customer information.

This type of security needs a good understanding of different operating systems and how to protect them. A specialist in this field understands how to keep cybercriminals out through a variety of techniques.

Data Security

Someone working in data security will make sure that data is safe at all times. Sending, receiving, or storing data is all part of this category. Often, a company will hire someone to secure their data as well as their customers’.

This is a more general form of cybersecurity. Several careers employ this type of cybersecurity. It’s also one of the most important types of security for any company.

Informational Security

Similar to data security, informational security protects all physical and digital information. This is broader in the sense that it could be any kind of information. The key distinction is that information security also applies to physical documents.

Someone working in informational security might be asked to protect a physical room on-site, data on the cloud, and information stored on the network or server.

Operational Security

Operational security, also called OPSEC, is another common form of cybersecurity. This form determines what information is critical, but it will also figure out ways to keep the information safe and controlled. OPSEC is often used to keep information away from competitors or enemies of nations.

OPSEC is especially vital in government agencies and contract companies. People who work in OPSEC spend a lot of time and energy providing education and information to the staff, teaching them how to protect their data.

Network Security

Network security is the act of keeping a network of computers safe. Most often, it’s a workplace that has multiple computers and servers linked up. The cybersecurity expert ensures that only the right people can access these networks.

If network security is compromised, the wrong people can access vast amounts of personal, confidential, and critical information. The impact of a network security breach depends on what types of information are being stored on the network.

Training and Certifications Required

For the best potential in the market, a bachelor’s degree is required. The most common bachelor’s degrees are in cybersecurity, information technology, or computer science.

Additionally, the combination of courses in statistics, programming, computer forensics, and ethics prepares people for the role.

For more qualified candidates, some employers might look for applicants who have a master’s in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity certifications help people better prepare themselves for a specific niche of cybersecurity. They’re also useful since cyber technologies are changing rapidly, and certifications can quickly bring you up to speed. Often, employers will look for certifications as well as a bachelor’s in a related field. Some esteemed certificates come from the National Institute of Standards of Technology (NIST).

cyber security analyst

Some certifications you can get in cybersecurity pertain to technology and national security, exploitive penetration testing, and cyber risk management.

How Long Does School Take?

A bachelor’s degree takes four years, and a masters takes an additional two. Although, when it comes to cybersecurity, your learning and education never stop.

Cybersecurity methods are drastically different between 2000 and 2020. As time progresses, the need for new classes, certifications, and continued learning is essential. You’ll read more about this later, but cybersecurity threats are always evolving and adapting.

Even though schooling might only take four years, you will most likely spend your whole career learning and evolving your knowledge in cybersecurity. It’s the only way to fend off cyberattacks.

cyber security expert

Typical Career Path

Typically, jobs with cybersecurity start with a bachelor’s in their field from an accredited university. From there, they begin an entry-level position and learn more specific skills. Due to the variety of sub-categories in cybersecurity, getting experience in a particular niche will help people get jobs later in that same sector.

They can either continue learning and climbing in one specific sector, or become a more versatile worker by gaining experience in many different roles. The latter option primes them for an executive or management-level role.

A chief information security officer is one of the highest positions someone might typically hold with a cybersecurity background. This career path requires an MBA or masters in their field, and it’s an executive-level position.

Careers in Cybersecurity

If you have an interest in what you’ve read so far, a career in cybersecurity might be right for you. You might be interested to learn about the different jobs. People in this field have excellent abilities in computer programming, communication, risk analysis, technical knowledge, and discretion.

As you saw earlier, there’s a lot of different types of cybersecurity. Let’s dive into some of the different careers you might go for.

cyber security students

Forensic Computer Analyst

Imagine a forensic computer analyst as a detective. They get called after a security breach, and they follow the clues to find the culprit. They might use techniques to recover deleted data, use special programs for tracking, or look into server information.

A lot of times, their findings are used in court for litigation. They don’t necessarily prevent attacks, but they aim to find who made the attack.

Information Security Analyst (ISA)

The ISA is what you might expect when you think about working in cybersecurity. These are the security guards. Their sole responsibility is to protect data for a company’s computers and network.

They’ll control programs, add encryption measures, maintain the firewalls, update the cybersecurity framework, and prevent data leaks. In some cases, the ISA might be called on to help retrieve information after a cyberattack. The ISA most likely knows the computer system and network better than anybody else at the company. They are the first defense for cybersecurity management.

When working as an ISA, you must stay up-to-date with the newest technology and methods to find and eliminate advanced persistent threats. The ISA has to stay ahead of the hacker at all times.

Penetration Tester

A penetration tester is a unique role in a company. They are often brought in for single projects on contract. Their primary function is to hack into that company’s network with their authorization.

In other words, penetration testers are almost like hackers for hire. Companies will pay them to find vulnerabilities in their systems. The penetration tester will hack their way into the system, then outline all of the weaknesses and how the company can plug those holes. The company will take those notes and roll out fixes to make sure illegal hackers don’t take advantage of their system in the future.

The best way to prevent a hacker is to hire one ahead of time.

computer hacker

IT Security Engineer

Information technology security engineering is where cybersecurity meets traditional engineering. This role will analyze systems from an engineer’s perspective and design fixes. Their significant task is to design security systems that work well to ensure people don’t exploit the company later.

They’ll also maintain systems for companies. They use knowledge of general data protection regulation to find the best methods to fend off hackers. They might also implement automatic scripts that detect when a security incident happens and report it in live time.

Often this role is filled by a programmer who can write scripts and codes for different operating systems and various coding languages. There’s a lot of critical thinking, math, and engineering methods used in this role.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

The CISO was mentioned earlier; it’s an executive-level path for some cybersecurity experts. This role oversees the cybersecurity work at a given company. They plan and direct the security work for their employers, and they interface with management at the company.

The CISO is the leader of the cybersecurity team, so they need to know a lot about IT security and have the skills to lead a team. For larger companies, the CISO needs experience in different cybersecurity roles to make sure they can keep a large team organized and on track.

cyber security experts

What are Cyberattacks?

Cyberattacks, or cyber threats, are when someone takes information from someone else through their computer, device, or network.

Cyberattacks can, more or less, be categorized into three sections – ICA or integrity, confidentiality, and availability. Later, you’ll see specific cyberattacks.

Cyberattack on Integrity

This is when data is leaked from a major company. These attacks aim to diminish the integrity of a company by giving its secrets out to the world. Email leaks are a common variety of this type of attack.

Cyberattack on Confidentiality

These attacks take confidential information from people or companies. Often, this is someone stealing your bank or credit card info, but it pertains to any private information you have.

Cyberattack on Availability

The last form of cyberattack focuses on locking up your computer. A cybercriminal will prevent you from using your computer or accessing your data until you pay them money. The target for these attacks could either be an individual or a large company.

Impacts of Cyberattacks

One of the most significant roles in cybersecurity is protecting people and businesses from cyberattacks. It was hinted earlier, but cyber attacks can be hugely damaging to people and companies.

cyber attacks

One of the biggest impacts is on people’s finances. These hackers and attackers will steal financial information and drain as much money as possible from the victim. There are rings of online thieves who steal credit card information and sell it to the highest bidder.

Examples of Large Cyberattacks

The most significant and most dangerous cyberterrorists can go great lengths in their attacks. They can shut down entire power grids, lead military equipment to fail, steal medical records, and paralyze computer networks.

Historically, cyberattacks have shut down Iran’s nuclear facilities, allegedly influenced US presidential elections, and stole 147.4 million people’s personal data through Equifax.

It’s impossible to estimate the full impacts of these different cyberattacks. It’s fair to conclude that poor cybersecurity is a huge issue, though.

Poor Cybersecurity

Earlier, cybersecurity was compared to a physical security guard. This analogy works great when you want to understand what poor cybersecurity results in.

Like a sleeping security guard, poor cybersecurity will do nothing to protect a computer. A cyber threat can occur at any moment. Hackers and criminals can quickly get into the computer, system, or network, and snoop around. They can take information that will ruin lives and destroy people’s finances.

Poor cybersecurity is outdated and easily worked around. As time goes on, these security measures have to be re-visited and assessed. Cybersecurity has to upgrade and adapt with the times and as new cyberterror emerges.

Different Cyber Attacks

There is a wide range of different cyberattacks. As computers and the internet develop, hackers and cybercriminals have various opportunities to attack unsuspecting people or businesses. Some of the most common cyberattacks are phishing, ransomware, malware, and social engineering. Other forms are hacking, cross-site scripting, DNS spoofing, and taking a secure sockets layer.

As hackers find new ways to attack us, cybersecurity experts have to find ways to stop them. This is why people working in cybersecurity have to always stay up-to-date with their practices and knowledge.

phishing attack

Let’s learn more about each of these malicious attack types.

Phishing

Phishing is perhaps one of the more common methods of cyberattacks nowadays. The attacker will trick you by pretending they’re someone they’re not. They will manipulate you into giving them information or money.

Phishing is primarily done over email. The attacker might send an email saying your bank account info was stolen, and they’ll ask you to confirm your information. They might also pose as customer service for some companies and ask for your online login. Afterward, they’ll use the information you provide them to steal your personal info.

Ransomware

Ransomware is the most prominent method of availability attacks. A hacker will restrict your access to your computer or your data and won’t remove the restriction until you pay them.

This could be done by forcing a download on your computer that requires a password to remove. The cybercriminal will contact you and say they’ll give you the password in exchange for money. Alternatively, they could access your computer, change your computer’s password, and demand payment.

Malware

Another prominent form of cyberattack is malware. This is a general term for malicious software. It might be a virus, spyware, keylogger, or trojan horse. Any program put on your computer without your permission that aims to do bad things.

Malware aims to steal your personal information through your computer. Some forms of malware just keep crashing your computer, so you can’t use it. Another type of malware uses your computer to send spam or to drive traffic to specific websites.

Malware detection is often hard due to how many types there are. Malware is usually what most security programs are focused on detecting, and it requires continuous monitoring.

Social Engineering

Social engineering attacks the confidentiality of people. Using psychological manipulation, an individual can trick or convince people to give away personal information. This could be done in person, via an email, or by a phone call.

This cybercrime involves tricking you into giving personal information that can be used to access your data. In some cases, people who use social engineering might resort to phishing techniques, but they can use other methods.

For example, someone might ask about your childhood pets, mother’s maiden name, or street you grew up on because these are commonly used security questions. They will use your answers to gain access to your online accounts.

Hacking

Like you’ve seen in the movies, hacking is a form of cyberattack where the cybercriminal exploits different ways of getting into a private network or system.

Some companies will hire hackers to try to break into their system to highlight weaknesses; then, they’ll develop fixes for these holes.

Hacking attacks could fall into any of the three categories. They might be looking for personal information, seeking to leak information from a secure database, or taking a computer hostage for money.

Cross-site Scripting

Cross-site scripting (XSS) is when a cybercriminal will add a link in an otherwise-normal website. The link will direct the user to the criminal’s site that starts downloading viruses to the user’s computer. The host of the link doesn’t know that the link is malicious. On top of it, the website is otherwise completely normal.

The criminal piggybacks on this site and capitalizes on how unsuspecting the link is.

DNS attack

DNS Spoofing

Domain name server spoofing is a little more complicated. The attacker will put together a site that looks just like another legitimate site. They’ll direct the victim to the site, prompt them to log in or enter sensitive information, and then steal it.

An excellent example of this is a fake online bank login. The criminal will set up a page that looks just like your bank’s page, but when you log in, your bank info goes right to the criminal.

In simple terms, DNS spoofing sends you to a fake website that steals your information.

Secure Sockets Layer

Secure sockets layer (SSL) is the internet’s way of making your messages secure. They encrypt messages, passwords, and personal information you put online. When you use your credit card to make a purchase online, the website will use SSL to keep your information private.

Cybercriminals can steal this SSL key and use it to decrypt the information you submit. The SSL key is more or less a dictionary that translates the encrypted message into plain English. This type of attack is rarer than the others because it’s more challenging to carry out.

By this point, you realize how critical cybersecurity is. There are a lot of ways that people in this field keep us safe, but there’s an equal amount of ways that cyberattackers look to threaten us. As people use more digital technology, we are going to rely more on cybersecurity.

We learned more about cybersecurity and different branches. We reviewed the schooling required, some jobs in this field, and found out why this field is so relevant. Considering some of the threats to our cybersecurity strengthened the idea that a lot of focus has to be made on cybersecurity. The only way to safely use the internet is with properly educated cybersecurity professionals in place.

You can find yourself in a cybersecurity job in less than a year with the SDSU Global Campus Cybersecurity Bootcamp. Learn the fundamentals and receive hands-on training with real-life simulation labs that place you in the situations you’ll find in the world of cybersecurity. Our admissions team is waiting to hear from you. Schedule your call today.

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