Cybersecurity is a growing field with a wealth of opportunities. Source: Hitesh Choudhary/Unsplash

Technology and computers have permeated just about every aspect of our lives, making cybersecurity a crucial role for computing professionals in our digitised economy.  

Most businesses today operate wholly or partially online, while on an individual scale, we depend on technology for banking transactions, work and entertainment. Cybersecurity can threaten the national security of a country, as seen recently in the possible Russian interference with the US elections.

This makes it crucial for everyone, from individuals to businesses and governments alike, to ensure data, systems and networks are secure from cyberattacks. Failure to do so can be disastrous, causing financial and civil implications, among other things.

Our growing reliance on technology spurs the need for qualified cybersecurity professionals.

What is a cybersecurity degree?

A cybersecurity degree will equip you with both theoretical and practical knowledge in the field. Source: Shutterstock

According to IT Governance, cybersecurity “consists of technologies, processes and controls that are designed to protect systems, networks and data from cyber attacks. Effective cybersecurity reduces the risk of cyber attacks, and protects organisations and individuals from the unauthorised exploitation of systems, networks and technologies.”

Cybersecurity degrees may vary between institutions, but generally, the programme will equip you with both the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to detect and protect computers, networks, programmes, data and personal information from unauthorised access.

Examples of modules will also vary between universities. For example, some of the first-year modules you can expect to take at Birmingham City University include Hardware and Security Fundamentals, Computer Programming and Mathematics for Computing.

The second and third year will see you progressing to tougher modules, such as Software Security, System Security Attacks and Defences, Computer Forensics Tools and Technique, The English Legal System and IT Law, Ethical Hacking, Cloud Computing, among more.

Depending on your programme, you may be required to complete an internship in order to graduate.

Possible career pathways

Demand for cybersecurity professionals is reportedly high. Source: Shutterstock

Numerous reports suggest that demand for professionals in this area is high. For example, Anglia Ruskin University notes that: “The worldwide cyber security market has grown from $3.5 billion (2004) to $75 billion (2015) and is forecast to reach $170 billion by 2020.”

Graduating with an undergraduate degree in cybersecurity can open you up to a wealth of career opportunities, since professionals of this discipline are needed across a range of industries, from education to healthcare and even government.

Some of the careers cybersecurity graduates may find themselves in include cloud support engineer, technical support engineer, IT support, data analyst, software developer, network administrator and digital forensics professional.

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