In 2020, the vision benefits company EyeMed suffered a data breach that exposed millions of customers’ private information to potentially malicious actors. What began as a garden-variety phishing attack turned into a $600,000 settlement and irreparable damage to the company’s reputation.
Every year, cyber security and safe online practices become more important for individuals and businesses. It’s a challenge that also becomes more complicated as offenders invent new strategies to compromise data and place innocent people at risk.
In answer to these threats, skilled cyber security professionals work to protect the information and related assets of businesses and organizations of all types. A number of exciting and lucrative careers in cyber security are available to those with the right education and skills, such as those offered by an online master’s degree in cyber security.
Cyber Security Job Description
Cyber security positions range from system penetration testers to security engineers, and from architects to Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) who sit on company boards of directors. Whether a candidate has a background in technology or is looking to break into the cyber security field, future cyber security professionals need an advanced array of skills to stay current with new cyber threats that target confidential information of individuals and businesses.
Some essential key skills in the cyber security job description include strong analytical ability, network and security administration, hardware installation and protection, knowledge of popular operating systems like Windows and Linux and an in-depth understanding of coding languages, which allow you to create or modify the functions of different software. Each of these skills can be leveraged to advance security measures in a number of cyber security roles.
Cyber Security Careers
Within the cyber security field is a broad spectrum of career opportunities requiring a graduate-level cyber security skill set. Some of the top cyber security careers include the following.
1. Security Consultant
In the field of cyber security, consultants are hired to look at a company with an unbiased eye and recommend a well-rounded cyber security strategy tailored to its needs. Consultants advise their corporate clients on how to protect against attack, test for vulnerabilities, respond to incidents and keep their systems updated. Consultant teams often employ ethical hackers, or penetration testers.
2. Security Engineer
Within a company or organization, security engineers develop systems that can handle any data security problems that may arise. Among their many responsibilities, engineers install firewalls, detect intrusions, test for vulnerabilities, and develop and implement automated scripts to accomplish 24/7 security solutions. A background in programming is a must for security engineers.
3. Computer Forensics Investigator
Almost every cyber security incident involves criminal activity. Forensics investigators work after the fact to recover lost data, examining affected systems and compiling credible evidence for legal purposes. Often, computer forensics investigators work for consulting firms, law enforcement agencies and other government entities.
4. Ethical Hacker
Also known as penetration testers, ethical hackers are legally authorized to hack into secure networks, from corporate systems to government databases, to pinpoint vulnerabilities. Ethical hackers also work in a sort of undercover capacity on behalf of clients, using social engineering to trick the client’s employees and vendors into divulging passwords and other private information, thereby exposing weaknesses that can be used to gain access to a system.
5. Security Software Developer
Most cyber security solutions require software designed to automate and simplify the task of securing a company’s network. The software must be flexible enough to be used by data experts as well as non-cyber security personnel. People who also have a strong background in software development and programming languages can specialize in developing security software, such as software to detect and prevent malware and viruses.
Hardly a day goes by without a headline about a major hack threatening to expose the private information of millions of people. Social networks, health care companies, major retailers, insurance corporations and financial institutions are all vulnerable to attack — and all are constantly targeted by hackers.
Cyber security is an essential function of IT in our connected digital age. Students who are pursuing a master’s in cyber security will find they are in high demand after graduation.
Explore Exciting Opportunities in Cyber Security with an Advanced Education
In a connected world — where everything from smartphones to watches, vehicles, TVs, appliances and even warehouse inventory equipment is on a computer network — cyber security can be the first line of defense against the digital chaos caused by cyber criminals.
UND’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security is designed to prepare students for careers in cyber security, with median annual salaries ranging from around $99,000 to more than $107,000 as of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Cyber Security Analyst, Ethical Hacking, Computer Forensics and Secure Networks tracks are available for those who wish to specialize and prepare for industry certification exams.
Find out how the expert cyber security program and faculty at the University of North Dakota can help you advance your career or embark on a new one.