The Importance of Cyber Security Today

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Today’s connected devices pose a challenge for cyber security professionals.

Every company that does business online and uses computer networks to access and store information understands the importance of cyber security.

In late September 2018, Atrium Health suffered a security breach that exposed 2.65 million billing records. According to John Commins in “Atrium Health Vendor Hacked, 2.65M Records Exposed” on, AccuDoc Solutions, a third-party vendor used by Atrium for medical services billing purposes, was accessed by hackers. The unauthorized access to the server exposed sensitive client information ranging from Social Security numbers to names, addresses, insurance policy data and account balances.

Thanks to some forethought by AccuDoc Solutions, however, the hackers responsible for the breach could not access credit/debit card numbers or patient medical records. And Atrium spokesman Chris Berger reported that although the unauthorized access revealed sensitive information, the hackers downloaded none of it.

Every company that does business online and uses computer networks to access and store information understands why cyber security is important. As the business world moves more of its daily economic activity onto the internet, employs the use of data analytics and cloud services, and upgrades technology to connected Internet of Things (IoT) devices, a skilled and knowledgeable cyber security workforce will be needed to meet security demands. IT workers can enroll in online cybersecurity master’s programs to meet the educational requirements for potential cyber security positions.


The Changing Landscape of Cyber Security

Almost everyone interacts with the internet and computer networks on a daily basis. Online interactions, however, were very different 20 or even 10 years ago. The proliferation of mobile devices and Wi-Fi-connected technology may be taken for granted by most people, but cyber security professionals face a massive challenge with the large number of connected devices in circulation.

“Today, with the sharp increase in use of digital technologies in the workplace, driven by the need for businesses to become more agile and adaptable, there has been a surge in the number of endpoints and potential ways for cybercriminals to gain access to enterprise networks,” tech writer Nick Ismail explains in “Securing the Future: The Evolution of Cyber Security in the Wake of Digitalisation” on “As a result, the entire cyber battlefield has evolved and become far more complex.”

The IoT revolution has been going on for years now, and each day the business world sees an increase in the number of connected devices, from barcode readers to supply chain data loggers, smart locks, security cameras, smart lighting and network-connected thermostats. And by the year 2025, we may have more than 75 billion IoT devices in the world, according to industry predictions reported by in “The 5 Worst Examples of IoT Hacking and Vulnerabilities in Recorded History.”

Each IoT device provides a potential access point that hackers can use to break into a secure system.’s article highlights the dangers inherent in IoT devices through the example of the Dyn Attack. In October 2016, one of the largest attacks in history used IoT to spread a malware program called Mirai. Once installed, the program searched networks for vulnerable IoT devices and attempted to use default usernames and passwords to gain access. Twitter, CNN, Netflix, the Guardian and Reddit were all affected and shut down for extended periods of time as a result.


Staffing Cyber Security Departments

It’s one thing for businesses to be aware of the critical need for full-time cyber security staff and another thing entirely to find qualified personnel to fill those positions. In the article, “Cybersecurity Staffing Issues May Be Putting You at Risk,” Sarah K. White reports that 80% of organizations experienced a security incident in 2015, but only 29% of those companies had a cyber security expert on staff.

In fact, the desperate need for cyber security professionals is even more apparent when one considers the amount of time it takes to educate and certify IT personnel in the discipline of cyber security. “One problem with finding cybersecurity professionals is that it’s a relatively new skill that requires higher education and certifications,” writes White. “That leaves a gap between the time when the workforce identifies a need for this skill and when potential candidates can actually complete a relevant degree, obtain certifications and gain training or experience.”

IBM’s “2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study by Poneman” reveals that the cost to a company for a security breach now averages $3.86 million, or about $148 per file of sensitive and confidential information. These numbers are up 4% to 7%from 2017. Businesses everywhere are learning fast that they will not survive much longer without a dedicated cyber security department responsible for preventing or quickly correcting security breaches.

With the high cost involved in combating a breach, a full-time team of cyber security professionals will be needed to manage basic cybersecurity responsibilities, as outlined in’s “Is Your Organization Up to Date with the Latest Cybersecurity Trends?”

A dedicated cyber security staff can ensure that all company computers are up to date and that all cyber security information is current. They must also establish and enforce strong, company-wide password policies; secure all mobile devices; utilize VPNs to encode and protect information shared with third parties; establish download rules; train staff to be security aware; and monitor daily activities.


University of North Dakota’s Master of Science in Cyber Security Program

Now is the time to enroll in an online cyber security master’s program. 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 is our first line of defense against our Internet of Things devices being used maliciously against us.

University of North Dakota’s MSCS program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s Top 25 Most Innovative Schools (2018) alongside such prestigious institutions as Stanford, Harvard and MIT.

UND prepares students for careers in cyber security with concentrations available in Autonomous Systems Cyber Security, Cyber Security and Behavior, Data Security, and General Cyber Security.

For more information on UND’s MSCS online program, visit the program’s website.



Atrium Health Vendor Hacked –

Securing the Future –

The 5 Worst Examples of IoT Hacking and Vulnerabilities –

Cybersecurity Staffing Issues –

2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study –

Is Your Organization Up to Date? –