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Cyber Security Awareness Month: As Businesses Battle Hackers, Cybersecurity Professionals in High Demand

Anyone looking for proof of the looming danger of cyber attacks could do worse than to consider this fact:

The U.S. Department of Defense requested $3.4 billion for its Cyber Command in 2013. Yes, that’s billion.

If that’s not enough evidence, there’s always this sobering analysis from a federal report titled Cyberspace Policy Review:

“The architecture of the Nation’s digital infrastructure, based largely upon the Internet, is not secure or resilient. … Our digital infrastructure has already suffered intrusions that have allowed criminals to steal hundreds of millions of dollars and nation-states and other entities to steal intellectual property and sensitive military information.”


The growing specter of cyber attacks is not just a worry for the nation’s warriors. Even as technological advancements offer benefits to businesses, organizations and individuals, they also bring challenges, particularly in safeguarding financial, health and other confidential information.

Since September 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported almost 500 cases of healthcare data breaches, each involving at least 500 patients. Those breaches totaled almost 21 million health records.

Still, questions remain about the readiness of businesses and organizations to combat cyber attacks.

According to a September 2012 survey by the global security firm Kaspersky Lab, 50% of information technology specialists consider cyber threats to be the second-biggest danger to business. But fewer than 60% of survey respondents believe they are prepared to face a cyber threat, and less than one-third had heard of common threats such as the hacking tool SpyEye.

The 2012 National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which runs through October, will turn a spotlight on cyber threats on the domestic and international front. The annual event includes webcasts, conferences and free computer security checks, and is designed to educate the public about cyber threats and provide tips on staying safe online.


Cybersecurity Professionals in Demand

All of these factors are fueling demand for cybersecurity professionals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a job growth rate of 22% for information security analysts from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the rate for all occupations. Healthcare providers and the federal government are expected to be major contributors to the increase in cybersecurity jobs.

In May 2011, the median annual wage for the category of workers that includes information security analysts was almost $78,000. The median for the top 10% was more than $124,800.

Among other duties, cybersecurity professionals monitor networks for attacks and other breaches, install encryption programs and firewalls, and develop security protocols.

Most cybersecurity professionals have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or programming. offshore centre However, the increasing complexity of cyber threats means more employers are likely to prefer candidates with advanced knowledge or training.

In 2012, the National Security Agency unveiled efforts to prepare college students for cybersecurity careers, introducing a National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program.

In addition, regionally accredited schools are adding degree programs geared specifically to information security. At Florida Tech University, for example, the Master of Science in Information Technology with a Specialization in Cybersecurity program is offered 100% online.

Whether the battlefield is corporate America or international terrorism, cybersecurity professionals are on the front lines in the struggle against hackers seeking to infiltrate the nation’s computer networks.

About the Author

Dafe Ojaide writes on information assurance and cyber security degree programs and careers for University Alliance on behalf of Florida Tech.

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Bill Wardell

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