Cyber security, which may otherwise be referred to as computer security or IT security, includes efforts and activities that serve to protect both information systems and the data contained in an information system from theft, damage to hardware or software, or disruptions.
This includes activities such as controlling in-person access to hardware, in addition to preventing unauthorized access to the network or data stored there, whether this is achieved intentionally or accidentally.
This field has grown in the past two decades, as enterprises become increasingly reliant on information systems and secure networks, servers, and storage. With smartphones, tablets, and laptops becoming ubiquitous business tools, it’s more important than ever for individuals and corporations to be able to ensure their data and computer systems are secure.
Systems at Risk
Cyber security is critical in any industry that makes use of computer systems to operate. Today, most devices come with built-in security features, such as firewall software. However, this may not be enough to adequately and dependably protect the data stored on that device. There are a variety of ways to hack into a computer, smartphone, or tablet—through the network system, clicking unsafe or unknown links, joining an unknown Wi-Fi network, downloading files or software from dangerous sits, etc. Any enterprise that requires devices to conduct day-to-day operations and store data may be put at risk. Some enterprises that are at risk include:
- Financial systems. Websites and applications that store banking information—including brokerage accounts, secure payment sites, and online banking portals—may be targeted by hackers looking to gain financially by stealing this information.
- Large corporations. Large businesses are frequent targets of hacks. In many cases, the goal is financial gain through identity theft. Some corporations that have lost client information to the hands of hackers include Target Corporation, Staples, and Home Depot. In addition, medical records may be stolen for health insurance fraud or access to drugs. Some corporation hacks are not motivated by the possibility of financial gain. Sony Pictures was hacked in 2014, and the motive was to expose and cripple the company.
- Other industries susceptible to hacks include aviation, automobiles, consumer devices, utilities and industrial equipment, governments, and more.
Careers in Cyber Security
It’s an ideal time to begin a career in the cyber security field. There are plenty of opportunities and the field continues to grow as demand for computer security increases. Experts in the field are among the most sought-after and high-paid professionals in the tech industry, with demand higher than demand for general IT professionals.
Cyber Security Certification
In order to become a certified cyber security professional, you will need a background in IT security. This may include a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree in a computer science or IT field and career experience as a security analyst. Courses and classes are offered to those who want to gain specialized knowledge when it comes to protective cyber threat detection and mitigation. Courses may focus on security events and alarms, traffic analysis, incident response, and event monitoring.