Cyber Security Career Guide

Cyber Security Careers for Students

Cyber security represents a large field of job opportunities that all have a shared goal of protecting many organizations, schools, and individuals from outside virtual intrusions that could steal sensitive and personal information.

These duties include the processes itself when identifying problems, creating solutions, or implementing the security when users are actively uploading data. There are also foundational needs to build secure networks from the ground up, and the ability to find out problems in real-time in order to avoid any attacks happening in the future.

Educational Preferences for a Cyber Security Career

In order to prepared with the skills and training necessary to thrive in a cyber security career, it is highly recommended to complete post-secondary education or passing certification. Being able to protect computers, devices, and the programs that run on them requires an understanding of their functions and the networks they are operating on. Having higher education in the fields of computer science, software engineering, or business administration should be able to satisfy these needs.

1. Undergraduate Degree

A Bachelor's degree in Cyber Security will provide the skill set and education for entry-level cyber security opportunities. There are a growing number of programs that are directly focused on Cyber Security, which opens the pathway to many possibilities, such as working with the systems directly, auditing systems to make sure they are following rules and regulations, digital forensics, cryptology, and more. For those pursuing a degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Mathematics, or a related field, it is important to add electives or pick a concentration in security when available. This provides the necessary coursework to become familiar with these positions.

2. Seek Out Additional Tech Certifications

For an alternative option, students can complete an associate degree with a certification. These programs will be able to prepare students for a specialized certification exam that will showcase a person's abilities. An example of a certification process is the CompTIA Security+, which emphasises the core skills needed to succeed as an auditor, penetration tester, or administrator. The 90-minute test has up to 90 multiple choice questions and recommends the passing of the CompTIA Network+ certification and two years of experience in the IT sector. A score of 750 or higher is needed to pass.

3. Graduate Degree

Obtaining a Master's in Cyber Security degree will provide a pathway to more managerial or executive roles within cyber security, like becoming an IT manager or chief information officer. Like undergraduate possibilities, there are growing opportunities to specialize in cyber security-related education or there are direct programs available. Nova Southeastern University in Florida provides a Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cyber Security that meets stringent accreditation standards by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

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Cyber Security Careers and Jobs

Cyber Operations / Defense Career

The Army requires strong cyber security operations and defenses to gain an advantage and protect information and their networks from attacks. Operation specialists will evaluate and maintain network defense and they will respond to any threats that appear. Training for an opportunity will require certifications in CompTIA, Certified Information Systems Security Professional, and Cisco Certified Networking Associate.

Computer Forensics Career

These job opportunities focus on investigation efforts after an attack happens, identifying all the questions of why it happened and how it was able to infiltrate any current security methods. They also have the ability to neutralize any current threats and vulnerabilities, and recover data if possible. These duties can be delegated into various roles, such as a computer forensics investigator, technician, or analyst.

Cryptography Career

Government agencies, like the National Security Agency, have plenty of opportunities for those seeking cryptography positions. In order to battle against cyber-terrorism, all sensitive information must be encrypted when traveling along a national network and when communicating with other sources across the world. This information cannot be intercepted nor compromised, so in the event of potential attacks, it cannot be viewed by unauthorized parties.

Network Penetration Testing Career

In a controlled setting, networks, applications, and devices can all be tested on to see how strong or vulnerable their security measures are. This can be part of the engineering or architectural process in order to design a very secure network for an organization, being able to thoroughly troubleshoot and communicate the issues to other engineers.

Information Security Analyst Career

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least a quarter of opportunities for IS analysts lie in computer systems design. These positions can typically be found at financial institutions, consulting firms, and the military. For example, Deloitte, one of the major accounting firms in the world, has numerous risk assessment and security analysis positions with goals to continuously protect valuable information and implement any needed changes.

Network Security Analyst Career

The difference between information security and network security is the latter is focused on the organization's network security, or the data that is traveling over the servers, internet, and a cloud-based infrastructure. Analysts will be able to identify any odd activity that is taking place that could be or is threatening information, or locate vulnerabilities within the network. They also determine the reliability of setting up firewalls and anti-virus software for the organization.

Security Engineer Career

Focuses on the security of the design within an organization's network, making sure processes are fundamentally sound in order to eliminate any obvious intrusion efforts and preventing attacks from stabilizing and creating a root problem. They will work with analysts to identify any potential threats, implement any foundational advancements when necessary to minimize risk, and they will frequently connect with executives to present findings and recommend any changes needed.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Career

One of the highest-level positions within the cyber security field, and they manage and make decisions in the entire sector. They will not only be responsible for cyber security measures, but how to implement disaster recovery when a data breach occurs, have a firm understanding of rules and regulations to remain compliant, and delegate tasks for the response team when attacks occur. This position is a branch off from the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and is typically found in bigger organizations. Smaller companies will likely have these duties combined into one position.

Cyber Security Salary Outlook

Job opportunities that require the security and defense of valuable information is rewarding with various high-paying opportunities across the world. Salaries will typically reach over the $90,000 for information security analysts according to BLS.gov. This reaches beyond the six-figure mark when looking at the financial industry, insurance companies, and computer systems architecture. Typically, a Bachelor’s degree is the minimal educational requirement, but years of hands-on experience and further education within a Master’s program can open up more opportunities and higher salary figures.

IT cryptology and software, other high-paying positions, can also get around $98,000 to $101,000, as the professions create the encryption needed to protect information and create the software or hardware needed. Not all occupations related to cyber security will be as lucrative. According to PayScale, the average salary for a network security analyst will be around $67,472 nationally. This will also be true when just starting out in the industry. However, obtaining higher education, such as a Master’s degree, and adding multiple years of experience in the workplace will significantly make this number jump.

Top 10 Employers for Cyber Security Graduates

Absolute

Creates Absolute Persistence, which is an end user program that is able to withstand cyber security attacks and malicious intrusions. Provides a way for their customers to neutralize problems and find solutions in real-time on their end, gaining back control quickly and limiting any strong attacks. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, in Canada, but has offices in numerous locations in the United States.

Check Point Software

Offers hardware and software products for security for various networks, in the cloud, and on devices. One example is their Next Generation Firewalls, scalable from small offices to massive enterprises, and have multiple layers of protection that can block numerous attacks. Has over 5,000 workers across their headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel and San Carlos, California, and various other office and manufacturing locations around the world.

Cisco Systems

One of the most popular organizations in the world when recognized for their hardware in telecommunications and networking. They also offer many security solutions, including Cisco Cloudlock, which protects users’ information when data is moving through the cloud and being accessed by various apps. It has an algorithm that identifies any strange behavior and gives users the ability to block or allow any app that has access to the cloud.

Cloudflare

Based in the United States and has now expanded across the world, this company is an internet hosting provider that offers many security solutions, and has a wide range of availability and tools from individual users to major businesses. Protects websites from DDoS attacks and other issues that can cause the domain to go down, vastly affecting business at any given time.

ImmuniWeb

Consolidated with High-Tech Bridge in 2019 and offers artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions to secure information on the web. Their service offers their security at competitive costs and offers security from various attacks and locates any vulnerability with potential leaks into the dark web. Based in Switzerland and serves North America, Europe, and APAC.

Imperva

Provides software and services for cyber security worldwide since 2002 when it was called WEBcohort. Application and data security is under the umbrella of FlexProtect, which provides firewalls, attack analysis, application programming interface (API) security, and DDoS protection. They also actively monitor data activity and security, risk analysis, and masking the information from outside threats – all based on the level of security desired.

NortonLifeLock / Broadcom (Symantec)

Bought out by Broadcom in 2019, Symantec has been famous for their popular anti-virus program, Norton, and LifeLock, which is now combined into its own company. Their software offers advanced device and data security, family security that features parental controls and extra protection from harmful websites, and VPN options to protect identity through network and mobile connections. Enterprise solutions are now under the Broadcom umbrella.

Rapid7

Offers cyber security services, support, and solutions to clients, and powers projects such as Metasploit that has penetration testing and identifies any vulnerabilities within a system. Other services include improvement on response times when a breach occurs and being able to complete training and certification to become a more advanced security expert.

Root9B

Fuses military-level cyber security to private organizations for protection against the biggest attacks through the ORION platform. Services offered include risk management, digital forensics, and threat intelligence. Root9B gets its name from the continuous attacks that attempt to gain root access on a system, and the decimal conversion of “9B” to “911,” which represents the date of the September 11th attacks on the United States.

Veracode

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Massachusetts, the company offers automated cyber security services in applications. After launching SecurityReview which tested code for security procedures, they determined that 80 percent of mobile and internet applications had vulnerabilities for cyber attacks that lead to data breaches and hacking. Veracode has been recognized as an industry leader in app security testing.

Top 10 Cyber Security Organizations to Know

Center for Internet Security (CIS)

Nonprofit organization that creates software to secure various organizations from threats, creating benchmarks to follow through guidelines created by experienced workers in the information technology sector. They also host the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center to protect government organizations, and the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center to protect election offices.

Information Security Forum (ISF)

Based in the United Kingdom, this forum offers software, tools, and consultant services for members, and routinely release research projects free to the public. They also created the Standard of Good Practice for Information Security, which covers the latest developments in cyber attack protection and information risk assessment.

Information Security and Forensics Society (ISFS)

Standardizes information security in Hong Kong by establishing sturdy regulations, holding workshops and professional training, and creating awareness in the community. Full members need at least a Bachelor’s degree in the information technology field and two years of related experience. To become a fellow, full members must have held the title for at least two years and sponsored by two other fellows.

Information Systems Security Association (ISSA)

Nonprofit organization based in Virginia that was founded back in 1984, and they promote education and network cyber security professionals. Other benefits of joining the organization include keeping up with the latest innovations in IS, get aid when pursuing further education, or opportunities to advance in the profession.

The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)

Over 185,000 members are part of the IIA, which has 160 chapters across North America. Their goals are to promote the necessity of having internal auditors within an organization, developing the position with higher education and certification programs, and networking professionals together for further opportunities and skill building.

International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR)

Promotes the cryptology position and the values that cryptology have in the world when it comes to protecting vulnerable information. Holds three flagship events each year: Crypto, Eurocrypt, and Asiacrypt; they also hold the Real World Crypto Symposium that has rotated each year between New York, California, and internationally.

Internet Security Alliance (ISA)

Founded in 2001 with Carnegie Mellon University and is located in Washington, DC. Sets out to accredit programs and implement policies that will demonstrate the importance of cyber security in an organization, and promotes the leadership taken by individuals and organizations that have supported and contributed to advancement.

National Council of Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs)

Focuses on the protection of an organization’s infrastructure, workers, and clients and consumers from cyber security and other hazards. There are 25 specific ISAC organizations based on sectors, such as health, financial services, aviation, real estate, and communication. They have been able to protect information sharing and provide operations such as risk mitigation, and they offer services such as workshops and webinars.

National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)

Looks to increase awareness of staying secure online when dealing with private information at home for personal use or working with it for professional reasons or at school. Holds events such as Data Privacy Day, which is used to promote how widely personal information can be distributed and what steps people can take to protect themselves, and they provide an education website with simple tips and what to watch out for at Stay Safe Online.

The SANS Institute

For-profit company founded back in 1989 that offers training, certification, news, and analysis of the following categories: SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security. They have their own college, the SANS Technology Institute, that has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. They focus on cyber security programs, such as the Master of Science in Information Security Engineering.