What Is Cybersecurity & Why Is It A Good Academic Option?

Published on: October 02, 2022

It is no secret that society is more reliant on technology than ever before, and this is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. Unfortunately, despite all the conveniences, this reliance on computer systems and the internet also means greater risks. It is not just large corporations and governments that are vulnerable to security threats either. These days identity theft and the theft of personal information are threats that everyone should take very seriously. Due to the continued rise in cybercrime, there is also a greater need for experts that can help to detect and prevent cyberattacks. This has made cybersecurity one of the hottest fields in tech and a great choice for students searching for an online degree that can help them launch a successful career.

What Is Cybersecurity?

Cyberattacks are typically performed to either access, change or destroy sensitive information. Cybersecurity is the process of making sure that systems, networks, and programs are safeguarded against these types of digital attacks. 

Why Is Cybersecurity So Important?

A successful cyberattack against a business or organization is not just extremely harmful to its reputation but can also be extremely costly. According to the annual Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM, the data breach average cost increased 2.6% from USD 4.24 million to USD 4.35 million in 2022 (https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach). Cyberattacks can be used to gain access to customers' personally identifiable information, which is then sold on illegal digital marketplaces. Businesses hit by cyberattacks can lose the trust of their customers if any of their data is compromised and can even be subject to regulatory fines or legal action. For these reasons, businesses take cybersecurity very seriously and invest heavily in protective and preventive measures.

Why Is Cybersecurity A Good Online Degree Option?

Lots of Demand: The cybersecurity supply/demand heat map clearly shows that talent gaps exist in the industry, which means a demand for those with the right skills. The number of online job listings for cybersecurity-related positions was 714,548 for the period of May 2021 through April 2022 alone (https://www.cyberseek.org/heatmap.html).

Plenty of Career Paths: Unlike many other careers, there is plenty of variety when it comes to potential jobs in cybersecurity. The Cyber Career Pathways Tool by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies highlights some of the popular options available in the field (https://niccs.cisa.gov/workforce-development/cyber-career-pathways-tool?quiet=1). In addition, a wide assortment of degree programs also allows students to select their specializations and tailor their studies to their interests. 

Great Job Outlook: While many jobs are becoming obsolete due to rapid technological advances, cybersecurity is one field where this trend is reversed. In fact, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 35% over the next ten years (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm#tab-6). This is much faster than the average for all occupations and highlights the need for experts in this field. 

It Pays Well: Job satisfaction is great, but your salary pays the bills, and experts working in cybersecurity tend to be well compensated for their skills. Of course, not all cybersecurity jobs pay equally, but the high demand and shortage of skilled employees mean the salary range is quite decent. For example, Payscale lists the average Chief Information Security Officer's salary as $171,884 per year (https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Chief_Information_Security_Officer/Salary) and that of an average security architect as $130,585 (https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Security_Architect%2C_IT/Salary). 

Remote Work Friendly: Many of the career paths in cybersecurity are very remote work friendly. This is a big plus for people who enjoy working from home or who like to travel. This also means that it is possible to find good jobs in the industry without necessarily having to relocate.

Very Versatile: The knowledge and skills you get while studying cybersecurity or working in the industry also come in useful for many other technology-focused jobs. This makes it much easier to switch career paths or explore new options compared to other sectors.

Protecting Yourself: Anyone can be the target of cyberattacks, but cybersecurity experts are better equipped to deal with these types of threats than the general public. The consequences of identity theft or ransomware can be devastating for individuals, so having the skills needed to deal with potential threats on a personal level is an excellent perk of the job. 

Mentally Stimulating: A lot of jobs can become boring if you are stuck in the same old routine and don't receive any mental stimulation. Cybersecurity can be stressful, but the upside is that it is rarely dull. Cybercriminals continue to become more sophisticated, which means those working in cybersecurity need to keep up with them and can never become complacent.

It's Disability-Friendly: Because a lot of jobs in cybersecurity can be done remotely and do not require a lot of mobility, the industry is a good match for people with disabilities. In addition, in most cases working in cybersecurity is not physically strenuous either, and assistive technologies are available to make it more inclusive for disabled people. 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that cybersecurity will play an essential role in most industries and that there will always be a demand for experts in the field. With more and more technology workers opting to work from home, security is also a more significant concern than ever. Since it is such a technology-driven area, cybersecurity is also a great match for online learning. So, if you have a talent for problem-solving and relish the challenge of staying one step ahead of cybercriminals, it is a great choice for an online degree.

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