Cyber security is more important now than ever. As so many aspects of daily life are conducted online, it is essential to keep this data safe from threats, which are evolving all the time. Therefore, preparing the next generation of cyber security specialists is crucial to ensure that individuals, companies, and society are protected against these new and inventive cyber risks.
This article will explore how online cyber security degrees are training up-and-coming cyber security specialists to protect everyone against safety breaches. It will uncover how this flexible way of learning lends itself to the subject area, opening this career path to more worthy candidates than ever before.
It will also delve into some of the areas covered by online programs and finally explore how individuals could build on their existing skills or switch career direction altogether, with an online cyber security course of study.
What does a cyber security specialist do?
Before exploring how online programs are training the cyber security experts of the future, it is important to fully understand exactly what the role of cyber security specialist involves.
The ultimate goal of a cyber security specialist is to protect individuals and organizations from cyber theft, access to data or data loss. This has far-reaching implications, so it could mean anything from keeping an individual’s banking details secure, protecting employees’ personal data from unauthorized access, or locking down personal medical information used by hospitals and health systems.
Here are some of the roles and responsibilities of cyber security specialists.
Developing and testing security systems
Cyber security specialists work with senior members of organizations to develop plans, policies, and systems to keep data safe. To help them do this, they analyze a company’s weak spots and threats to their security, thus developing procedures to make their day-to-day digital business as secure as possible. They will also test these systems to ensure they are fit for purpose and review them on a regular basis.
Identifying potential threats
An important part of a cyber security specialist’s work is to identify areas of vulnerability that could be targeted for attacks on data. They often use a method called penetration testing, which is a way of simulating a cyberattack to find weak spots in a company’s system. With this information, they can proceed to fixing vulnerabilities before a real attack can take place.
Investigating and fixing software bugs
Cyber security specialists also work to fix software bugs that may not necessarily be a threat, to ensure the smooth running of a company’s business. This action ensures that systems are robust and enhances the overall security of a company’s systems.
Managing security threats
If a cyberattack does take place, a cyber security specialist can respond with the appropriate actions to ensure that minimal damage occurs and that systems are made secure again.
A senior cyber security specialist may lead their own team in an organization, performing managerial responsibilities in addition to their principal role of ensuring the security of their organization’s systems. As part of this remit, they may train and mentor team members, deal with HR matters, and manage the team budget.
Disseminating their knowledge to others is a vital part of a cyber security expert’s role. They provide training to help others understand company-wide cyber security policy and practices and their own responsibilities when it comes to keeping their data and their employer’s data safe.
Liaising with law enforcement
Cyber security specialists may be called upon to help law enforcement representatives investigate criminal activity related to data breaches. They may also be required to provide reports as evidence in criminal trials of this nature and to appear in court as witnesses.
Why choose an online program?
The role of a cyber security expert is varied and dynamic, offering plenty of opportunities to create an interesting and rewarding career. To work as a cyber security expert, individuals will usually need a bachelor’s degree at least in computer science or a related subject and preferably a master’s degree in addition to this.
One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to study online. Here are some of the advantages of choosing to study in this type of program.
If students opt for a degree that offers 100% online learning, then they can learn at their own pace and in a location and a time that suits them. This is the ideal set-up for anyone who has existing commitments and if learning at set times would be challenging.
Online degrees are accessible to more candidates than ever before. For those who are already established in a location, perhaps because of family or employment ties, then on-campus learning can be restrictive. Online learning, on the other hand, opens up a world of choice as students can study from anywhere.
Lots of the costs of on-campus learning are cut when students choose to study online. There are no travel costs of commuting to campus or having to give up work shifts because of set lecture times.
No need to give up work
Many online students balance learning with work commitments, as these types of courses are flexible to individual timetables. This is essential for most people who need to keep working to support themselves or their family.
Access to great universities
Since distance is no object, cyber security students can take their pick of excellent and established universities who offer the exact course they need to enhance their career prospects.
Support of peers and faculty staff
Just because a student is studying online doesn’t mean that they will be learning on their own. Online university students will have the support and companionship of others on the course as well as help from faculty and administrative staff.
What does an online cyber security program teach?
An online cyber security program will cover everything individuals need to know to enter this exciting career with confidence. Here are some of the subject areas students can expect to encounter on a typical online cyber security program.
Penetration testing, also known as ‘ethical hacking’, is an essential exercise to highlight flaws in a company’s IT systems. A pen test, as it is also known, involves staging a mock cyberattack to find any weak spots or vulnerabilities in a system’s defenses which a real-life attacker could exploit to gain access.
Sometimes, the expert performing the penetration testing will have a limited amount of information about the system or none at all. They may be required to perform a covert pen test, where no one in the company knows about the exercise. They could be asked to perform an external pen test which tests the company’s outward-facing website. Alternatively, they may conduct an internal pen test, where the expert tests internal systems to know what damage employees could potentially inflict.
Automation and AI integration
This subject area looks at automation, which entails any process where technology performs routine tasks instead of a human doing them, and AI, which involves using simulated human intelligence to perform tasks with more independence. Both automation and AI relate closely to cyber security.
In an online degree program focusing on cyber security, students will learn the principles of both these concepts and understand where they can be used. They will also find out how these areas link into everyday life and therefore into the cyber security of individuals and companies. They’ll learn how to integrate security measures into automation and AI processes and how to detect possible breaches too.
Different coding practices
Coding — creating instructions for a computer to follow — is the cornerstone of any IT-related program of study. It is essential to understand the principles of coding practice and the various types of coding available to know how to build security features into computer programs. Understanding coding also allows cyber security experts to identify where weak spots are likely to occur.
Digital forensics investigates traces or evidence of criminal activity from digital devices and networks. It is an essential feature of cyber security.
On a typical online course in cyber security, students will learn about the different types of cybercrimes, such as AI-powered attacks, ransomware, and cyber terrorism, and how to respond to them. They will also find out how to conduct forensic analysis of crimes and data breaches, liaising with law enforcement representatives as necessary.
Another essential element of this topic area is understanding how to prevent and protect against cybercrimes, as part of a wider cyber security policy.
How to train as a cyber security expert by studying online
Whether an individual already has a background in IT or is coming to the field of cyber security from a different area, choosing to study online is an accessible and flexible option. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree, then a recommended route to working as a cyber security expert is through an online Masters Cyber Security. The online Master of Science in Cybersecurity offered by St. Bonaventure University is one such program that will enhance students’ skills and knowledge so that they can achieve a high level of competence and confidence in this fascinating area. One of the most attractive aspects of this program is that it is open to candidates who already have a degree or background in computer science as well as those transitioning from a different sector.
It offers all the benefits of online learning described in the section above, allowing students to follow the course from the comfort of their own homes and without having to change their lifestyle to pursue their dream. It also has a wide curriculum, which includes topics such as secure software design, penetration testing, cloud security and more. This program is the perfect grounding to train students for certification in a host of different areas of cyber security.
Students may graduate in only 18 months so they can progress to their career as a cyber security expert without delay. They can also benefit from St. Bonaventure’s partnerships with prestigious organizations including Amazon Web Services Academy and Cisco Academy.
Candidates will be supported along their learning journey by student support advisors, as well as a whole community of online learners, and can enjoy a personalized mentorship session with Associate Director Pouya Ghotbi.
The online Master’s in Cyber Security offered by St. Bonaventure University prepares individuals to step into a senior role as a cyber security expert — a role that will offer a long, varied, and fulfilling career in a highly esteemed sector.
Ultimately, a master’s program offers interested individuals a thorough grounding in many areas of cyber security, covering a whole range of subjects that will put them ahead of other candidates. It’s the ideal way to gain the skills and experience needed to step into senior cyber security roles, balancing studies with all the other aspects of everyday life.
Does a career in cyber security have prospects?
It is safe to say that as a cyber security expert with a master’s degree and specialized certifications under their belt, graduates will have plenty of scope for employment. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that an information security analyst role will earn a median salary of roughly $122,000 per year. Furthermore, the growth rate for this particular role currently stands at 32%, which is significantly greater than the average for all roles of 3%.
This means that by investing in an online master’s program, individuals will be qualified for a role that will bring a sound return, not just in remuneration but also in job security.
Cyber security experts can also choose from a diverse range of areas where they can practice their skills, from government departments through to banking, finance, retail, and media. Some may even choose to set up their own businesses, working in a freelance capacity and enjoying the wide variety of clients and settings that this offers.
Wherever they choose to work, cyber security experts will also gain the satisfaction of knowing that they are playing a pivotal part in securing the data of companies and individuals, protecting them from the ever-present threat of cyberattacks.
Qualifying as a cyber security expert in months
A cyber security degree could be more accessible and achievable than many think when they opt to follow an online course of study. Learning at their own pace, in a familiar environment and without needing to give up other commitments is ideal for many candidates looking to either boost their existing skills or change direction in their career.
That is exactly what the online Master’s in Cyber Security offered by St. Bonaventure University can give interested individuals — a flexible way to study a fascinating and useful subject. This program will give them a solid grounding for a promising career full of opportunities now and in the future.
If a career that is dynamic, fast-paced, uses extensive knowledge and skills, and allows individuals to help protect the security of organizations and individuals alike sounds appealing to some, then they should consider enrolling on this well-regarded course. Within just a matter of months, they could be qualified as a cyber security expert with their pick of career options and a secure and varied pathway ahead in a truly fascinating field.