Society relies on the internet for everything from work, to entertainment, to financial management, personal data storage and beyond. Because of this, we also rely on cyber security experts to protect our privacy while we send and receive data. They have the advanced skills to anticipate security threats and safeguard confidential information from unauthorized users.
However, there aren’t enough cyber experts to go around. According to the 2020 (ISC)² Cybersecurity Workforce Study, the cyber security workforce gap was around 3.1 million in 2019. This means an online Master of Science in Cyber Security can put you in high demand.
The Critical Nature of Cyber Security
Technology is advancing more quickly than the development of qualified talent. This could become an increasingly serious issue as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes more complex and widespread. According to recent reports by IoT Analytics, the number of connected IoT devices will be over 30 billion by 2025. While the IoT offers convenience, it also has the potential to transform into an ideal playground for sophisticated hackers to access and exploit data.
Organizations of all types, both large and small can be victims of cyber attacks. According to a report generated by Verizon, 43% of cyber attacks focused on small businesses. The health care industry is another prime target for hackers. In September 2020 alone, hackers compromised roughly 9.7 million health records, according to HIPAA Journal.
Cyber Security Threats
Cyber threats come in many different forms, which makes them difficult to combat. Many these threats prey on individuals through digital mining techniques. These attacks rely on various forms of trickery, from phishing emails that are designed to look legitimate, to bogus online alerts that claim an individual’s computer is infected with a virus. All it takes is one click by an unwitting person to enable a hacker to gain access to a network.
Another worrisome threat is ransomware, a type of data encryption program that keeps data locked up until a payment is made to the attacking party. This is a potentially expensive problem. The security firm PurpleSec projected ransomware costs would reach $20 billion by the end of 2020.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are another potential threat to businesses. In DDoS attacks, cyber criminals flood a company’s network or servers with an overwhelming amount of internet traffic. This causes system slowdowns that can expose and expand a network’s vulnerabilities.
In some cases, these threats aren’t caused by a company’s internal networks or systems. Use of third-party resources such as Instagram and Spotify by a company could inadvertently cause gateways in networks and systems that can be exploited by savvy cyber criminals.
The Future of Cyber Security
Cyber crime is likely to increase in both frequency and sophistication, with the potential to cost greater and greater amounts of money. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that cyber crime will create damages of around $10.5 trillion annually by 2025.
But the threat of cyber security transcends mere economics. A single vulnerability can cascade into a widespread security threat and harm the integrity of an entire organization’s data.
In response, the cyber security market is poised to expand. A Brandessence Market Research report predicts the market will be worth $403 billion by 2027. Yet despite these projected gains, many companies are still slow to act on implementing protection.
A 2018 InsuranceBee survey of small business owners shows that 54% of small businesses don’t have a plan in place to thwart cyber attacks. This lack of preparedness, along with other industry factors, means individuals with the right computer education and experience have ample opportunities to make a tangible impact in the battle against cyber crime.
Cyber Security Job Demand
The benefits and satisfaction of defending against cyber crime go beyond a paycheck. Having said that, it’s helpful to understand the level of professional and financial stability a career in cyber security can provide. Successfully preparing for a career in cyber security can equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a robust job market that is ripe for opportunities. These well-paying roles cover a wide range of approaches to cyber security.
Cyber security is projected to be one of the fastest growing career fields. The BLS predicts 31% job growth for security analyst positions between 2019 and 2029.
Cyber Security Positions and Salaries
Cyber security professionals work in a variety of settings and industries. Below is a representative listing of positions along with their approximate median salary.
- Penetration Tester: $86,000 (May 2021 PayScale data)
- Data Scientist: $126,830 (2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] data)
- Security Software Developer: $110,140 (2020 BLS data)
- Security Analyst: $103,590 (2020 BLS data)
Specialize Your Cyber Security Expertise
A career in cyber security isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some experts focus on managing the core elements of computers, while others specialize in overseeing day-to-day operations. The more specialized you are, the more desirable your skills can become.
UND’s online cyber security master’s program is designed to help you decide which area of the business you’d like to focus on before you enter the cyber security field. That way, you won’t just know what to expect — you’ll have the knowledge to excel.
Choose from four different tracks:
- Autonomous systems cyber security: Learn to keep hands-free systems safe and protect the information they transmit.
- Cyber security and behavior: Safeguard sophisticated networks and systems by understanding the people attempting to penetrate them.
- Data security: Protect information from unauthorized users with intrusion detection algorithms and cloud computing.
- General cyber security: Diversify your expertise by focusing on autonomous systems, data security and behavior.
Find your niche with one of UND’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security tracks and be ready to safeguard organizations big and small from cyber threats.