Cybersecurity professionals: modern-day heroes

By Vicki Simek, TU Innovates blog on October 23, 2017

TU's Center for Professional Studies offers several avenues for individuals looking to enter or advance in the field of cybersecurity.

Just in the past six months, the term cybersecurity has become a household word in the United States. Related words like hacker, bot and even ransomware have also made it into the current lexicon. However, none of this learning has come easily to us. In fact, you might say, that most of what we’ve learned has come from very difficult lessons.

In the fall of 2016, hackers and bots used emails and fake news to allegedly interfere with the U.S. presidential election. In the spring, cyberattacks around the world made all of us  WannaCry. More recently the Equifax data breach exposed the sensitive personal information of nearly 146 million people.

Both hardware and software are at risk. We’re not just talking about the personal computer you use at work and at home. No, think bigger. Think about the computers that manage air traffic and energy grids. Think about the machines that run the machines that make cars, clothes, or drugs. Our modern world runs on multiple digital platforms and cybersecurity crimes have created a rapidly growing need for very specialized skills in cybersecurity.

When will this end you ask? It won’t. In fact, it may get a lot worse until we find better ways to protect ourselves.

ENTER THE CYBERSECURITY PROFESSIONAL

Cybersecurity professionals are modern-day heroes that detect and mitigate threats, risks, and vulnerabilities in information technology resources. Within that scope of work, there are many jobs, including entry-level positions, for cybersecurity workers. Cybersecurity professionals need to have strong technical skills mixed with these personal skills.

  • Detail-oriented
  • Examine problems from all sides
  • Enthusiastic
  • Adaptable
  • Strong analytical and diagnostic skills
  • Innovative and collaborative

If you are planning a career change into cybersecurity and have little or no background in information technology, start by learning CompTIA A+, Network +, and Security+. The cyber security specialist program at Towson University Center for Professional Studies teaches that sequence of progressive certifications and allows students to sit for those certification exams. Students who complete this program are typically are hired into entry-level positions.

If you already have experience in network security but have not had formalized training, you may be ready to take our certified information systems security professional (CISSP) course. CISSP comes in two varieties. Those with five or more years of experience in the industry will sit for CISSP while those with less can take the exam as an associate in information security certification (ISC).

Cybersecurity professionals are a new kind of modern day hero with superpowers to perceive threats, destroy them, and save the day in ways we could not even have imagined a few years ago.

This article was originally published on the TU Innovates blog on July 20, 2017. Some edits have been made to update the content regarding data breaches. 

Vicki Simek head shot

Vicki Simek is the associate director of continuing education at the Center for Professional Studies. She is responsible for program development, management, marketing, and outreach for non-credit, certificate-based, professional development courses. Vicki's posts focus on continuing education as a driver for workforce and professional development.

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: Strategic Plan Alignment.