There is no question that cybersecurity is more important than ever. As more businesses adopt digital systems, cybercriminals are incentivized to launch more sophisticated cyberattacks to capture as much sensitive and valuable data as possible. Home users are also at much greater risk of succumbing to cyber threats, and a single cyberattack could empty an individual’s savings and put their lives at risk.
Unfortunately, there are not nearly as many trained cybersecurity professionals as needed to counter the increasing threats in the digital landscape. Fortunately, you can help solve this problem by pursuing online cybersecurity degrees that qualify you for high-paying positions in prestigious IT departments and InfoSec agencies. While you are working toward your degree, you might consider specializing in one of the various fields within cybersecurity.
Information security is a broad field within cybersecurity focused on protecting data. Often, information security specialists work within IT teams, offering cybersecurity support alongside other valuable IT services. It is typical for information security specialists to come from backgrounds in computer science or software engineering, as many of their responsibilities are closely associated with these fields. As an information security specialist, you might…
- Develop network or software security
- Create and deploy security plans and procedures
- Configure security protocols
- Investigate data breaches
- Troubleshoot security infrastructure
Just as a financial auditor examines an organization’s financial accounts in search of inconsistencies, an IT auditor searches an organization for digital inefficiencies and vulnerabilities. IT auditors can specialize in different fields of IT; for example, some IT auditors are focused only on regulatory compliance. You might become an IT auditor for cybersecurity by obtaining the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification. As an auditor, you must have a well-rounded understanding of many components of information technology, including:
- Network security infrastructure
- Computer systems and applications
- Data analysis tools
- Third-party risk management
- Industry security standards
Arguably the most interesting-sounding speciality within cybersecurity, ethical hacking is concerned with using the tools and techniques of malicious hackers and cybercriminals to identify an organization’s cyber vulnerabilities, so that the organization may strengthen their defences without risking its data or productivity. Most often, ethical hackers perform penetration tests, which involve aggressively targeting specific areas of a security system to find flaws. To work as an ethical hacker, you need to be careful to earn certifications that demonstrate your non-malicious nature, such as the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) cert, the GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) cert and the CompTIA PenTest+ cert.
Threat intelligence is a field of cybersecurity involved in learning more about existing and emerging threats. Cybercriminals are constantly developing new methods of attacking secure and unsecure systems, and threat intelligence professionals collect evidence on these new attack behaviors and techniques to ensure that security strategies remain effective. Perhaps an exciting element of threat intelligence is cyber threat hunting, which strives to anticipate potential threats before successful attacks. Often, threat intelligence agents work for high-level cybersecurity firms, though some major corporations may also have threat intelligence professionals on staff.
Many small businesses and most home users are entirely reliant on security software to protect their devices and data. Therefore, some cybersecurity experts are dedicated to developing and updating software products, like antivirus solutions, encryption tools, password managers and the like. Like cybersecurity, software development is a potentially lucrative field of IT, so enhancing your cybersecurity knowledge and skill with additional expertise in software development can make you an invaluable member of any IT team.
Forensics is the application of scientific methods to collect and understand evidence related to a crime. Thus, digital forensics is the investigation of digital techniques used in the perpetration of criminal activity. Often, digital forensics experts will work to understand the methods employed in a successful cyberattack to ensure that an organization does not continue to suffer identical attacks due to unaddressed vulnerabilities. However, because cybercrime is an increasing concern, many law enforcement agencies are hiring digital forensics experts to assist with the cyber components of all investigations.
The final speciality on this list is the field that actually predates the concept of cybersecurity by centuries. Cryptography is the art and science of codes, and for millennia, cryptographers have employed complex mathematics, linguistics and other sciences to create and decipher codes meant to keep information safe. In cybersecurity, cryptographers have a straightforward goal: to develop the strongest and most sophisticated encryption possible to prevent unauthorized users from viewing sensitive data. Typically, cryptographers have advanced degrees, so you may need to remain in school for a few years to earn your doctorate in this field before you can find work.
Thanks to the high earning potential and reliable job security, many people want to work in cybersecurity. By planning ahead and choosing your speciality now, you can set yourself up for career success.