By J. Thompson
Contributor, Online Learning Tips
According to a Cybersecurity Awareness webinar sponsored by U.S. Department of Defense’s Center for Development of Security Excellence, “Each year, network intrusions aimed at our government and defense industries increase and become more sophisticated.” The magnitude of the threat is growing so fast that, “The global information grid–or ‘gig’–is probed millions of time a day.” From phishing expeditions conducted by criminals attempting to access our personal data to the recent enterprise cyber-attack that nabbed more than a billion usernames and passwords–our global economic systems and the stability of our daily lives are directly affected by the resiliency of our data systems and professionals setting the strategy. Naturally, cybersecurity is trending, but here are three tips to consider whether you’re studying a cybersecurity program now or considering an advanced degree in the field.
1. Ask yourself: Is it a growth discipline?
There’s no better emotional tail wind in your sails to get you through your studies than knowing you’ve made a sound choice by enrolling in a discipline that prepares you for a growth industry. For example, the U.S. Department of Labor projects 37 percent growth for information security analyst jobs by 2022 (Occupational Outlook Handbook: Job Outlook for Information Security Analysts, 2012—22). A degree never guarantees employment, but focusing your studies on specific industry skillsets can help your resume stand out in a competitive field.
2. Ask yourself: Does it relate to my current career?
It’s interesting to note that although cybersecurity is often IT-related–technology isn’t the only method for assuring security. More attention is placed on the management of technology rather than just on technical aptitude. That means policymakers, strategic planners, business leaders, learning and development trainers, law enforcement officials, and many others in a variety of industries require additional management skills as we increase our reliance on information systems. This includes health care, retail, education, business and many other sectors. So although you may not be an IT guru–cybersecurity entails multidisciplinary roles.
3. Ask yourself: Is cybersecurity training or education available?
Cyber threats and deterrent strategies to combat them are ever-evolving. In order to safeguard high-value systems–it requires forward-thinkers that can adapt quickly to changes in the industry. Some institutions of higher education are meeting the demand by offering programs specifically designed for cybersecurity professionals. A great way to give yourself a mental boost as you work through your studies is to pick a curriculum (including your electives) that ties specifically to your job duties. There’s nothing more academically invigorating than researching and tackling real-world problems, which you can later take and apply your research to your actual job.