Information & Cyber Security Degrees

Basics of INFORMATION & CYBER SECURITY

The safety of a company's private computer information is absolutely crucial. Breeches in security can compromise client data, leaving customers at a financial risk or increasing the likelihood of identity theft. Moreover, a cyber attack can harshly affect the reputation of an organization, which can harm sales or decrease future business prospects.

For that reason, many companies look for accomplished information security analysts who are tasked with maintaining the safety and integrity of corporate computer networks and data systems. These professionals are responsible for constructing, testing and regularly updating electronic security measures, as newer technologies often need upgrades that keep them on the cutting edge of cyber safety. The duties of information security analysts have increased constantly throughout the years as cyber crime has risen, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here is what you may consider when choosing an online information security program:

  • Requirements for hire typically vary by institution, your specific position and work-related responsibilities. However, most positions require a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field as well as relevant work experience, according to the BLS.
  • Some employers require additional education in the form of a master's degree in business administration that focuses on computer science coursework.
  • There are a wide array of certifications prospective information security analysts may seek to increase professional opportunities, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification or other designations specific to particular software programs.
  • Many employers look for candidates that already have a working background in related data security fields. For this reason, experience from internships and work study programs may be beneficial to you in the employment process.

What Education do I need to become an Information Security Analyst

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analysts usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, or a similar area. Some schools even offer an information security or cyber security degree program. These programs may increase in number as the information security field evolves.

In some cases, employers may prefer candidates who have earned a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems. This degree program typically includes both computer science and business courses, and it may take about two years for full-time students to earn.

Beyond a degree, certification is frequently preferred or required. There are a variety of information security certifications that may be earned that demonstrate a general or specific set of skills to a potential employer. Here are several to consider:

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – this general, widely-recognized certification tests candidates in 10 domains of information security knowledge, including access control, security architecture and design, telecommunications and network security, cryptography, and others.
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) – this certification may help audit control, assurance, and security professionals to demonstrate their knowledge in areas such as compliance and vulnerabilities assessment.
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – designed for information security managers, this certification tests your knowledge of assessing, designing, and managing information security for an enterprise.

What are examples of online cyber security degrees and courses?

There are different routes for students pursuing an online information security degree. These options often have to do with the college or university itself and the wording of their degree as well as the emphasis placed on a particular aspect of the core of the program.

Degree examples include:

  • Online Bachelor’s in Cybersecurity with a Concentration in Information Assurance
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Assurance
  • BS in Cybersecurity - Cybercrime and Fraud Investigation
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity
  • Master of Business Administration - Computer and Information Security

Students might expect coursework in topics that could include:

  • Principles of Programming
  • Mathematical Logic
  • Cryptography
  • Network Security
  • Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Linear Data Systems
  • Computer Science Fundamentals
  • Networking and Data Communications
  • Systems Design
  • Risk Analysis
  • Security Breaches
  • Advanced Programming and Algorithms
  • Machine learning in data security

What skills might I learn from an online cyber security degree program?

The skills typically learned via cyber security degrees will vary according to your concentration, but here are a few relevant skills

  • Knowledge of how to use computers and networks to store information
  • Ability to identify weaknesses in a computer network
  • Development of software to safeguard a network's vulnerabilities
  • Familiarity with all relevant operating systems, server types, and platforms
  • Ability to ensure that computer systems run smoothly without interference from malicious software or hackers
  • Capability of working with law enforcement to investigate computer crimes such as identity theft, "white collar crimes," or cyber-terrorism
  • An understanding of business and management principles

Accreditation

While there are many schools offering information security degree programs online, it may be wise to look for ones that are accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) of ABET, the accreditor of college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology. ABET accreditation means that a college or university program meets the standards of today’s computing profession. The ABET accredits programs, not institutions, paying particular attention to post-secondary programs within an accredited college or university.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CYBER SECURITY AND INFORMATION SECURITY?

The field of information security usually encompasses cyber security, but it may also include the security of other information types – even physical files. Cyber security specifically refers to the security of information stored in cyberspace, such as in a computer database. However, you may find that both terms are used interchangeably. Because many organizations minimize physical files in favor of storing information in cyberspace, information security analysts typically deal with electronic information exclusively.

INFORMATION SECURITY ANALYST CAREER PATHS AND POTENTIAL SALARY

Those who become an information security analyst are typically responsible for planning, implementing, and monitoring information security for an organization. Today, many businesses and other establishments rely on their computer systems and networks for the majority of day-to-day operations. This means that security breaches, such as cyber attacks or unauthorized access to sensitive information, may be a growing concern. An information security analyst usually works to protect a company’s data and IT infrastructure, identify areas of vulnerability, and ensure all personnel are taking proper security measures.

Information Security Analysts (i)

Information security analysts implement and maintain information security throughout a company. That could mean creating and enforcing company policies regarding information use, as well as assigning various levels of permissions to users.

In addition, these professionals may recommend and install security software and use monitoring software to detect and resolve threats. Duties often vary depending on your employer. For example, a large company with multiple branches may have more complex security requirements than a small business. Here are some general duties you may be expected to perform:

  • Evaluate computing environments in order to identify risk and make recommendations for security updates
  • Install anti-virus and malware software, firewalls, and other security software; encrypt data transmissions; implement access management
  • Help develop company information security policy and procedures
  • Train users in secure computing; monitor activity and handle any user violations
  • Perform data loss prevention procedures, such as file backup and recovery
  • Regularly re-audit security measures and make ongoing suggestions to improve security architecture, policies, and protocols
  • Serve as information security expert on projects involving electronic data and computing

Salary potential when you become an information security analyst varies by position, level of experience, and other factors. However, these stats related to earnings potential and job growth could give you an idea of what the salary potential is in this field.

  • Median Salary: $95,510 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 28% (Much faster than average)

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cyber attacks have increased in frequency in recent years, impacting job growth in this field. Areas that may experience an increased need for cyber security professionals include the federal government and healthcare.

All Salary and Job Outlook information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics