Online Bachelor's in Cyber Security

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Understanding General, Defensive, and Offensive Cyber Security Tracks

Cyber security is an increasingly critical business need. As technology becomes further intertwined with our professional and personal lives, the cyber security specialist’s mission of keeping business and personal data safe impacts more people than ever before. As a result, the answer to “What is cyber defense?” has become more complex. There are now multiple cyber security tracks: general cyber security, offensive cyber security, and defensive cyber security.

Lady using a laptop while standing in data center

What Is a Cyber Security Specialist?

Cyber security specialists execute various security measures meant to protect a business’s computer systems and networks. They monitor, analyze, and fix potential system breaches that may be exploited by cyber criminals. Cyber security specialists also research trends in tech-based security to stay one step ahead of would-be attackers and their tactics.

While a cyber security specialist helps a company keep its data secure, the protective nature of the role has a greater reach. By keeping an organization’s information safe, cyber security specialists prevent sensitive customer data, such as addresses, social security numbers, and credit card information from falling into the wrong hands.

Overview of the Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security

One of the best ways to develop essential data protection skills is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security, or BSCS. This level of education can be crucial for entering the job market, as many employers require cyber security specialists to possess a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. Furthermore, this degree can often serve as the foundation of a successful career in cyber security, regardless of the track explored. Cyber security degree programs also prepare students for the business world by offering courses that provide them basic knowledge of core business concepts, such as accounting, finance, and management.

Maryville University’s BSCS program features a Virtual Lab, which can be accessed on a host of devices from anywhere, at the student’s convenience. This lab provides a safe, impenetrable virtual space that allows students to comfortably hone specific skills essential to a cyber security career in a real-world setting. Some of these competencies include ethical hacking, investigative analysis, and software testing. The goal behind this special laboratory is to prepare students for scenarios they may see in their careers so they can meet them head-on and with great confidence.

The Three Tracks of Cyber Security

There are different methods of protecting data. Therefore, Maryville University has devised three cyber security online degree tracks so that aspiring specialists can gain skills and knowledge applicable to the career they want to pursue. These paths are typically broken up as follows:

  • Offensive Track: Deploys a proactive approach to security through the use of ethical hacking
  • Defensive Track: Uses a reactive approach to security that focuses on prevention, detection, and response to attacks
  • General Track: Utilizes a mix of offensive and defensive tactics to provide cyber security

There is some commonality among the three tracks that Maryville University offers. For instance, students of each track learn about cyberspace laws, policies, and compliance issues, which establish the rules specialists must abide by when they’re using various security strategies, even offensive tactics, such as ethical hacking.

Even though the methodologies of Maryville University’s three tracks differ, all teach important skills to students who want to work in the world of cyber security. These include sharp analytical skills for studying intricate computer systems and identifying potential risks. Cyber security specialists must also be detail-oriented enough to catch even slight disruptions in a network’s systematic processes. Additionally, they need to have strong problem-solving skills, which are essential for resolving issues that may arise. Finally, cyber security specialists must possess a certain level of ingenuity, which can help them determine new ways to protect an organization’s network from harm.

Differences in Cyber Security Tracks

Offensive Track

Maryville University’s offensive cyber security track puts students in the shoes of a cyber attacker who wants to exploit a system. Rather than relying on pure analysis and reacting to findings with preventive measures, offensive cyber security uses ethical hacking techniques to mimic cyber attacks. This method exploits security vulnerabilities and can eliminate the guesswork of what may happen during an attack.

The offensive track-focused BSCS curriculum devotes a good part of its coursework to ethical hacking and its various techniques, such as penetration testing. It also features courses designed to deepen students’ knowledge on network, wireless, and mobile device security.

Defensive Track

Maryville University’s defensive-oriented cyber security track uses more traditional methods to keep networks safe from cyber crime. The tactics rely on a thorough understanding of a system environment and how to analyze it to detect potential network flaws. This analysis influences the development and deployment of preventive and protective measures that discourage or outright stop cyber attacks.

The BSCS curriculum for the defensive track is designed to hone a student’s analytical skills. These include applying analytical competencies to various network environments, such as the cloud or mobile devices. Courses are also devoted to digital forensic practices and incident response.

General Track

The general cyber security track builds a comprehensive strategy from select offensive and defensive tactics. Because the skills needed to execute offensive and defensive strategies are similar, merging ethical hacking techniques with traditional analytical methodologies can be seamless.

This particular BSCS curriculum features essential courses found within both the offensive and defensive tracks. The curriculum includes courses on ethical hacking, digital forensics, and analyzing network and wireless device security.

Advancing a Career in Cyber Security

While most cyber security jobs require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, there are some high-level security positions that may require applicants to possess an advanced degree, such as an MBA or a master’s in cyber security. Those who fill these positions typically merge cyber security principles with advanced-level business knowledge pertaining to traditional leadership roles.

Maryville University’s Master’s in Cyber Security program deploys a holistic curriculum that incorporates the study of complementary subject areas while emphasizing a deeper development of technical knowledge. Students can complete this program entirely online via the university’s Virtual Lab and earn the program’s 30 credits in as few as 18 months.

Cyber Security Specialist Salaries and Demand

Earning a BSCS can enable students to enter a job market that’s looking for qualified individuals to fill positions. According to tech site Dice.com, information security is the third-largest technology job market. Some of the jobs found within this field include information security analyst, IT security consultant, and network architect. These positions can be lucrative; the 2017 median annual salary for an information security analyst was approximately $95,500, and the 2017 median annual salary for a network architect was about $104,000.

For those who pursue a master’s in cyber security, the job market is just as promising. Jobs in this realm include executive-level positions, such as an information security manager, security director, and chief information security officer. These leadership roles typically feature higher pay. For instance, the 2017 median annual salary for a security director was about $139,000, and the 2017 median annual salary for a chief information security officer was roughly $196,000.

A Crucial Role for Contemporary Business

Regardless of the track studied, the role of the cyber security specialist is one of the most crucial positions in the modern business world. For those interested in cyber security, earning a BSCS can be the first step toward an impactful career. Explore Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security program to see how its three tracks can prepare you for success in this important and often financially rewarding industry.

 

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Chief Executives”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Computer Network Architects”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Information Security Analysts”

Cyber Security Intelligence, “Offensive Cyber Security Changes the Industry”

Forbes, “What You Need to Know About Cybersecurity in 2018”

Maryville University, Bachelor’s in Cyber Security Online

Maryville University, Bachelor’s in Cyber Security Online Curriculum

Maryville University, Master’s in Cyber Security Online

Maryville University, Master’s in Business Administration

Maryville University, Master’s in Cyber Security Online Curriculum

Techopedia, “Cyber Defense”

Washington Monthly, “The Difference Between Offense and Defense in Cybersecurity”