Cybersecurity: Virtual Crime-Fighting,
Real-World Rewards
By Naomi Sheehan
It may be a “virtual” realm of activity on the Internet, but the criminal activity out there is real. Fraud, identity theft, and trafficking in child pornography have all been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as serious crimes, and trained experts are needed to track down perpetrators and prevent illegal activities.

The field of cybersecurity is still evolving right along with technology, generating jobs at a much faster pace than the national average. In fact, information security jobs are projected to grow by 40 percent or more over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The federal government is projecting a shortage of skilled tech workers, with some 1.4 million additional IT jobs created by 2020, and only 400,000 computer science graduates ready to fill them.

The pay is way ahead of the national average, too; cybersecurity agents earn a median wage of nearly $90,000 a year.

Wide range of applications
Because technology spans all industries, being skilled in computer forensics and data analysis opens up dozens of career doors beyond the criminal justice or government-related fields you might associate with cybersecurity.

Many cybersecurity experts work in the corporate world, where they protect social security and credit card information and financial transactions, or prevent leaks of products still in development.

Businesses employing cybersecurity workers can include banks, healthcare providers, tech and retail firms, “or any small business connected via the internet,” according to the BLS. These employees may be focused on upgrading computer networks and regulating data access, or responding to breaches and viruses. The technology needs of businesses, large and small, are growing every day.

On the forensics side, computer analysts may track down criminals like money-launderers or drug dealers by following electronic trails and tracing cell phone calls.

Cybersecurity-related careers
Information Security Analysts
Median wages (2013) $42.59 hourly $88,590 annually
Employment (2012) 75,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 39,200
Security Management Specialists
Median wages (2013) $31.78 hourly $66,090 annually
Employment (2012) 992,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 209,400
Database Administrators
Median wages (2013) $37.75 hourly $78,520 annually
Employment (2012) 119,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 340,300
Computer Systems Analysts
Median wages (2013) $39.03 hourly $81,190 annually
Employment (2012) 521,000
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 209,600

NCTC Cybersecurity instructor Kevin Henson shares below a few of the career fields collectively known cybersecurity.

Vulnerability Assessment Analyst (VA):  Working with the staff within the confines of a computer network to identify security problems and correct them before someone can break in from the

outside.   Many companies employ a VA specialist as part of the network security team.  Some businesses, like banks and hospitals, are required to do periodic assessments by government regulators and their insurance companies.
Penetration Testing Specialist: The “White Hat” hackers are usually contracted from outside to attempt to break into a network and look for security flaws.  These highly trained and experienced personnel are the men and women often portrayed in movies and TV shows.  Sometimes they sit in the lobby and break in wirelessly with a laptop, other times they walk in pretending to be a new employee and drop off a spying devices to provide remote access.  

Security Operation Center (SOC) Specialist:  These are the unsung heroes who monitor firewalls and intrusion detection software.  Many companies run 24/7 SOCs.  This is a great job for a student as you can get a shift that does not interfere with school.  While the job may not be a thrill a minute, it does leave a lot of time to study and get homework done while getting paid.

Digital Forensics:  Specialists in this field can recover information deleted off hard drives and phones.  These high-tech digital detectives are called in bypPolice, private detectives and concerned spouses.  People with this sought after skill set know that deleted does not really mean gone.

Security Engineer:  These are the frontline shock troops in the world of cyber warfare.  Well rounded professionals who can manage servers and firewalls, these are the go-to people to manage the day-to-day slings and arrows of corporate networks.

Security Architect: The master planner or mega mind that designs the next generation of safer, more secure network for a customer.  This professional is part network engineer and part master hacker, and always in demand.   These are some of the best paid positions in the industry.

Malware Analyst:  These are the high wizards of the programming world.  Malware analysts can disassemble the arcane complexities of viruses and words, and determine how they were made and sometimes who wrote them.  Unlike other positions on this list, this is not entry-point for a career.  This is a job for a computer programmer who decides to go back to school to learn security.

NCTC offers hands on classes in: 
Introduction to Security Technology, a well-rounded class with cryptography, passwords, physical security and other essential topics.  Virtualization, the essential primer for running cloud computing network, probably one of the most relevant skills for the next 40 years.  Intrusion Detection, the ability to tell when your network is under attack.  Operating System Security a class about the flaws the vendors want you to ignore.  Incident Response, teaches you what to do when everything goes wrong on a network and how to preserve evidence and fix the problem.  Advanced Network Defense, is a stepping stone on the way to the coveted Certified Ethical Hacker Certification. This is an intense course in the tools and techniques used to attack and defend networks.

These classes, along with others, serve as the proving ground for students to get the necessary skills and EXPERIENCE to be employed in a challenging and lucrative field that simply is not going to go away. 

For more information about NCTC Cybersecurity programs, contact Kevin Henson, Cybersecurity instructor, at (940) _________.