Cyberattacks make headlines every day. These breaches affect huge populations and cause hundreds of millions in financial damages. The notorious 2017 Equifax breach, for example, is believed to have impacted over 143 million victims, resulting in a settlement of $700 million and untold damage to the credit reporting agency’s reputation.
Desperate to avoid such devastation, organizations of all sizes and in all sectors are willing to pay top dollar for advanced security services. It’s no wonder, then, that cybersecurity represents one of the fastest-growing and most lucrative IT professions. Information security analysis, in particular, represents an area of major potential.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that information security analysts earned a median annual salary of $103,590 in 2020. With an explosive outlook of 32 percent expected (compared to just 7 percent across the general job market) between 2018 and 2028, shortages will likely continue to drive up wages as corporations and government agencies seek to employ the best and brightest cybersecurity experts.
There’s never been a better time to enter the field. Job shortages exist for a reason, however. Barriers to entry can be surprisingly steep in cybersecurity.
Which Cybersecurity Skills Are Most Needed In Today’s Job Market?
While a strong foundation in IT is increasingly valuable in today’s cybersecurity-focused job market, a variety of specific skills can grant aspiring professionals a competitive edge. Key capabilities sought by today’s top employers include the following:
Keeping mischievous entities at bay is a demanding task that can be greatly assisted by an Intrusion Detection System (IDS). A properly configured IDS scans networks and devices to ensure that any unwanted outside interference is kept at bay. Upon detecting intrusions, systems notify administrators immediately. They also take steps to minimize potential incoming damage, such as shutting down certain systems or network components under attack.
The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true in the field of IT security. Backed-up data, up-to-date software, and multi-factor authentication can keep IT infrastructure on its proverbial toes. Eager to implement comprehensive plans to prevent malicious attacks, employers increasingly demand cybersecurity professionals who understand the value of and techniques involved in successful risk mitigation.
The cloud has become a haven for personal information, making it a prime target for hackers attempting to steal customer data and sell it to nefarious organizations. Robust cloud security must be implemented to keep these attackers at bay.
Job seekers who understand the complexities of the cloud are highly valued by employers. Ideally, these prospective employees will be capable of filtering out potentially harmful traffic, implementing two-factor authentication, and encrypting and backing up data on a regular basis.
SecOps represents a rapidly growing area of demand for cybersecurity professionals looking to set themselves apart—especially for those who hope to eventually secure leadership positions. It involves extensive collaboration between IT security and operations personnel, who join forces to integrate key tools and technologies. Together, these teams aim to mitigate security risks while also improving business agility. When IT security is factored into the decision-making process at the operations level from the beginning, it minimizes miscommunications.
Systems administration serves as the beating heart of every IT infrastructure. After all, the technology, hardware, and software used to power businesses may be rendered obsolete if administrators cannot keep these critical elements running.
Modern systems administrators are responsible for implementing, administering, and operating vital networks. They must also take proper steps to educate hardware and software users on how to safely perform essential tasks. Systems administration competencies may prove vital to success in a variety of IT niches, so they cannot be ignored by prospective employees.
Web development represents a crucial, but oft-forgotten area of expertise for those working in cybersecurity. Those capable of designing pages from scratch are better equipped to handle the challenges posed by pernicious entities.
Entry-level cybersecurity employees should be well-versed, at a minimum, in HTML, CSS, SQL, Java, and several other design languages. Not only does such knowledge broaden security skill sets, it prepares cybersecurity professionals for web design-related tasks, which are assigned with surprising frequency.
An exciting area of growth, quantum computing could have a tremendous impact on IT security from both a positive and negative standpoint. The basic encryption methods that have held true for years will be no match for quantum computers that can perform calculations far faster than standard computers.
Already, advanced encryption is proving necessary to keep up with quantum systems. Proactive professionals looking to gain an edge should develop quantum computing capabilities, as they can expect this niche to play an increased role in the cybersecurity landscape of tomorrow.
Options For Building And Maintaining Critical Cybersecurity Skills
In a constantly changing digital world, keeping up-to-date with emerging threats and protective protocol may seem like a tall order. Thankfully, while specific threats change quickly, they are far from impossible to understand or address. With a core understanding of security concepts and the willingness to continue learning, those pursuing cybersecurity can make their mark in an exciting and highly rewarding profession.
The Importance of an Information Technology Education
Success in cybersecurity begins with a comprehensive education that builds upon technology foundations. Students seeking their Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Administration delve into a variety of core principles such as application development, database management, and data communications, which are needed to gain a full understanding of today’s most pressing cybersecurity concerns.
ACU Online’s Program Director for the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology Administration, Dr. Joe Feliciano, is a former member of the U.S. Air Force who applied his skills for work in the information technology sector. He has been teaching IT courses in management, computer networking, database, and cybersecurity since 2007.
Watch the video, below, of Dr. Feliciano speaking about ACU’s online B.S. in Information Technology Administration degree program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbLKKvcguko&feature=youtu.be
Building Upon Previously Established Knowledge And Experience
While IT education is necessary for success in the fast-paced landscape of cybersecurity, seemingly unrelated experience can prove surprisingly valuable. Often, students enrolled in IT programs possess a wealth of experiences that they can draw upon to better understand the theoretical concepts explored through regular coursework. Since technology plays a significant role in modern military operations, veterans have already developed skills and knowledge that are applicable in the IT and cybersecurity fields.
U.S. service members and veterans can play a key role in bridging the cybersecurity skills gap. First, however, they need proper preparation for this evolving field. ACU Online offers a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology Administration with a Cybersecurity Track so you can set your cybersecurity career in motion. Military members and veterans seeking an undergraduate degree can request to have their military training evaluated for potential course credit and are also qualified to receive a 10% discount on tuition.
For more information on how ACU Online can help you pursue your career goals, contact us at 855-219-7300 or acu.edu/online.