Computer Network Security
As our reliance on technology for every facet of our lives grows, so does the need for computer and network security. This is especially true in corporate environments. In the past, the focus on information technology in the corporate sphere was desktop support. Companies could simply get by with a small handful of IT professionals whose only job was “putting out fires” and keeping desktops and servers running. Today, this no longer is the case.
Just as business has evolved with technology, so has crime. Where criminals used to have to physically break into a company’s offices to steal money, they can now use computers to infiltrate a business’ network and steal data. Customer information, vital trade secrets and financial data can all be easily taken by cyber criminals. Since the criminal element has grown along with our reliance on technology, the prominence of computer security professionals has grown as well. Corporations are now hiring dedicated network security professionals to ensure the safety and security of their crucial data. The demand for these highly-trained IT security experts is great and educational institutions worldwide are working hard to meet this demand by offering computer network security programs.
Computer Network Security Online Schools
What Will You Learn?
A typical computer network security curriculum covers a wide variety of topics that range from basic network administration all the way to very specific courses on protection of particular systems. The goal of this depth of education is to produce intelligent, analytical, well-rounded professionals ready for the challenge of protecting businesses and their data.
Some key areas of a computer network security curriculum include:
- Basics of computer systems: what makes up a network and typical areas of attack.
- Systems administration: underlying network and operating system network software and their specific security concerns.
- Security administration: basic security fundamentals plus a guide to security documentation and incident reporting.
- Systems assessment: how to gauge system security and what holes to look for.
- Ethics and law: how do ethics affect IT security and what laws govern it?
- Hardware and software security engineering: how are secure systems built and what makes them secure as opposed to other, unsecured systems?
- Network monitoring: intrusion detection and how to spot the warning signs of an attack.
- Forensics: how to find cybercrime after the fact and how to trace it to the criminal.
- Database systems: how databases are constructed and their characteristic security concerns.
These are just a few of the many topics covered in a typical computer network security curriculum. It is a demanding series of courses designed to create professionals who take a 360 degree view of security analysis.
What Jobs Can You Get in Computer Security?
Depending on the individual student’s specialization and focus, a number of jobs can be obtained with a degree in network security. These include:
- Network/Systems Security Engineer: a technician who manages an organization’s real, daily IT security needs from a systems standpoint.
- Programmer: a software engineer who creates security applications or who improves upon the security of existing apps.
- ”White Hat Hacker”: a technician hired to use the same intrusion methods as cyber criminals in order to get a true analysis of a company’s systems and their vulnerabilities.
- Systems Security Analyst or Consultant: A freelance professional brought in on engagements to assess a business’ IT security and to provide detailed plans to make it better.
- IT Auditor: Accounting firms now employ IT security professionals whose job it is to audit a company’s security with a focus on financial controls.
Helpful Personal Characteristics
Characteristics present in successful computer network security students and, later, competent professionals, include:
- Technically-minded with an ability to learn and adapt to new technological concepts
- High level of personal ethics
- Analytical and open-minded to truly analyze all aspects of a situation
- Dedicated and hard-working: systems analysis can take long hours of very focused work
Similar or Related Programs
Career fields that are similar to or are related to computer network security include:
- Law Enforcement
- Network Engineering
- Systems Administration
- Accounting and Auditing
All these fields require competent individuals who can focus on highly technical tasks and ethical workmanship. An eye for analytics, tempered by a strong sense of personal ethics, is essential for success in all these fields, including the booming career path of computer network security.