Cyber security is the use of modern security protocols and knowledge to prevent unauthorised access to databases, networks, and systems. It is a rapidly evolving field that requires constant vigilance of new technological developments in an effort to stay ahead of inventive criminals.
The field began in the 70s as more of a theoretical pursuit, as computers were nowhere near as commonplace. ‘Cyber security’ often consisted of protecting physical design documents rather than protections against software. It was only when a German hacker named Marcus Hess managed to get into a US internet gateway that cyber security became a major concern, as it sparked the fears of intelligence authorities worldwide.
Nowadays the field is considered of paramount importance to all areas of industry where digital systems are used. Banks, universities, social media platforms, government agencies and just about every aspect of the modern world would be at the mercy of criminals if it weren’t for cyber security professionals.
Cyber security is for anyone with intricate knowledge of code, software and hardware willing to use their knowledge for the public and private good. Professionals in this field undergo rigorous study and constant research to stay relevant in the field, but in doing so protect the interests of millions. If you’re a programmer, software engineer or academic with a strong sense of justice, this field could well be for you.
Graduate-level cyber security courses can be taken up to master level. Each provides varying extents of knowledge and serve slightly different purposes.
Graduate certificates in cyber security prepare graduates for work in network and cloud security, as well as the ability to enter the field as security consultants or specialists. Courses like those offered by Victoria University take six months to complete if studied full time, requiring a bachelor degree in a related field or five years approved work experience. This makes them ideal for students who are already professionals that are wanting to deepen their knowledge or specialise.
Graduate diplomas offer a more advanced outlook, typically providing units in computer networks, academic integrity, research, and development. Deakin University offers such a course, taking one year to complete if taken full time. Entry requirements are similar to the graduate certificate, but will also allow entry to those with a prior graduate certificate in a related field. This line of study is therefore also targeted at existing cyber security professionals wanting to grow their skillset.
The Master of Cyber Security is a highly advanced course designed for existing cyber security professionals who desire comprehensive additional education in the field. Master-level programs like those offered by Charles Darwin University will cover concepts like asset security, risk management, entrepreneurial concepts, sustainability, identity management, security operations and more. The course is consequently longer than the certificates and diplomas, taking two years to complete if taken full time or four years if part-time.
Professionals in this area of cyber security manage cryptographic keys vital to encryption processes, digital signatures and authentication codes. This field is constantly on the edge of new developments, with companies like Symantec, Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet constantly working toward new developments.
These professionals ensure the integrity of networks, be they a group of office computers or entire companies. They are responsible for maintaining and protecting these connections from malware, viruses, and penetration. Companies like Proofpoint and SecureWorks value these skills highly, as they are vital to the protection of all networks.
A security architect is responsible for building and then subsequently overseeing network and system security for an organisation. They are behind the overall scheme for which an organisation’s digital infrastructure ought to be protected, making professionals in this field ideal consultants. Companies like Cyberark employ dedicated security architects to protect half of all fortune 100 CISOs.
The rapid development of the field lends itself to new specialisations all the time. Below are just some of the other opportunities available: