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How to Get into Cyber Security

By DeVry University

The information presented here is true and accurate as of the date of publication. DeVry’s programmatic offerings and their accreditations are subject to change. Please refer to the current academic catalog for details.

June 3, 2024
10 min read

Exploring how to get into cyber security? In today’s Internet of Things economy, it’s become more important than ever to safeguard networks and data systems where massive amounts of sensitive information is being stored and processed. Cyber security, which protects our personal and private information, affects anyone who uses a computer or mobile device. 

In this article, we will discuss several important things you need to know about this rapidly expanding field, including career options, programming languages you may need to learn and other technical and soft skills that may be useful for any cyber security professional.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is a discipline within the information technology field that involves safeguarding data, networks and computer systems from cyberattacks like data breaches or malware spread by malicious hackers. The question “what is cyber security“ has considerable depth and breadth, encompassing everything from installing antivirus software on your home computer and watching out for suspicious, malware-infected emails, to protecting vast data systems containing sensitive information like payment profiles or health information.

If you’re wondering how to get into cyber security, you may have already heard about the projected growth in employment for this occupation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment of information security analysts to grow 32% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, with about 16,800 job openings each year, on average, during this period.1 This growth is projected on a national level and local growth will vary by location. This projection is not specific to DeVry University students or graduates and may include earners at all stages of their careers, not just entry level.

The BLS attributes this strong projected job growth to several factors:

  • The growing frequency of cyberattacks.

  • Information security analysts will be needed to develop and maintain the technologies that safeguard information systems across industries.

  • A shift to remote work and the rise in e-commerce have increased the need for enhanced cyber security.

  • Strong growth in digital health services and telehealth will increase data security risk for health providers like hospitals and healthcare systems. 

Cyber Security Career Options

As private-sector business and public-sector organizations continue to assess their information security and enhance cyber security measures, cyber security careers are going to continue to be an essential part of the landscape.

Cyber careers can vary broadly across several areas of responsibility. With adequate education and industry-recognized certifications, you may be able to consider a number of different roles at varying levels.

A sampling of potential cyber security jobs includes:

  • Cyber Security Analyst

    Numerous responsibilities comprise this broad cyber security role, which involves analyzing reports and identifying unusual network conditions. The role may also involve controlling network access, maintaining firewalls or penetration testing. This position could be held at the entry level or higher experience levels.

  • Network Security Architect

    With advanced knowledge of security tools and techniques related to firewalls, penetration testing and incident response, network security architects use both defensive and offensive measures to safeguard systems and play an important role in reinforcing enterprise architecture. They design and implement cyber security policies and procedures while managing budgets and working within operational parameters. 

  • Penetration Tester

    Also known as “white hat hackers” or ethical hackers, the cyber security pros mimic the actions of malicious hackers to uncover network security vulnerabilities that may be hiding in networks, applications and devices. Collaborating with other cyber security professionals, they suggest solutions to eliminate vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.

  • Cyber Security Engineer

    This experienced cyber defender builds information security systems and engineers and enforces security plans, standards, protocols and best practices. Cyber security engineers also create and install firewalls and build emergency plans for swift and efficient recovery following a security event.

  • Security Software Developer

    This cyber security technician combines programming knowledge with cyber security analysis skills to create software that helps an organization protect its information systems from cyberattacks and data breaches. Well versed in emerging information security trends and the characteristics of the threat landscape, security software developers work with designers, engineers and testers to fortify systems against potential attacks and act swiftly to address cyber threats.  

What Programming Languages Do I Need to Know to Pursue a Role in Cyber Security?

Programming is one of the essential technical skills you should acquire if you plan to pursue a cyber security career. Here are some commonly used programming languages that can help you perform a range of tasks:

  • Python

    There are many reasons to learn Python, since it can be used for a variety of tasks like system administration, web development, penetration testing and network programming. Cyber security professionals who want to stay up to date on the latest software trends will appreciate how frequently Python is updated.

  • C/C++

    Giving developers more control over the behavior of their programs, C/C++ is widely used in the development of cyber security applications because it’s a fast language that enables a lot of code to be written quickly. It is also a very portable language, meaning programs developed in C/C++ can be deployed easily on a number platforms.

  • SQL

    Typically used to query data from databases, SQL (Structured Query Language) can be used to create security-related reports and alerts. Examples include identifying which users have access to certain types of data, and alerting system administrators when users attempt to access data they are not authorized to view.

How to Get into Cyber Security

If you’re trying to figure out how to get started in cyber security, remember that pursuing a career in this field requires a step-by-step approach that includes 4 basic elements: education, certifications, experience and skills.

Earn a degree or certificate

The first step you’ll want to consider along this career path is to pursue education with an emphasis on information or cyber security. This could be in the form of an associate or bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology or another related field, or an undergraduate certificate with an emphasis on cyber security.

At DeVry, we provide skill-focused curriculum to prepare aspiring cyber security professionals like you to pursue opportunities in the field. Our online Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security program can help you develop the skills to defend information, infrastructure and organizations against cyberattacks and prepare you to pursue industry-recognized certifications.

If you’re interested in pursuing a formal degree, our Associate in Cybersecurity and Networking or our Bachelor's Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking program can immerse you in cyberattack simulations and help you develop the abilities needed to design and implement security systems procedures and protocols.

Pursue certifications

Industry-recognized cyber security certifications are intended to verify your skills and keep them up to date. Earning certifications in addition to your educational credentials may help you stand out to potential employers when pursuing career opportunities in cyber security. Industry-relevant certifications may also help you comply with employer-specific requirements.

A partial list of the cyber security certifications you may want to explore includes:

  • SSCP® Systems Security Certified Practitioner

    This certification shows that you have skill with implementing and monitoring IT infrastructure, as well as a strong understanding of cryptography, network security policies, access controls and risk identification and analysis.

  • CompTIA PenTest+

    This certification is for those preparing to pursue roles in vulnerability testing and allows you to showcase your abilities with running vulnerability assessments, weakness management and analysis. 

  • CompTIA CySA+

    Centered around the kind of work Security Analysts will be faced with on a daily basis, this certification shows competency with analyzing signs of malicious activity and your ability to respond. 

  • CompTIA Network+

    This important certification applies to IT professionals who want to certify their knowledge and proficiency in technologies related to cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) environment.

  • CompTIA Security+

    This cyber security-related certification is intended to demonstrate your ability to secure network devices, services and traffic.

  • CompTIA Cloud Essentials+

    This certification demonstrates your adeptness in utilizing cloud-based technology in business, and how these tools can be leveraged to provide value to your company.

  • CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)

    The CEH Certification offered by the EC-Council verifies your ability to conduct penetration testing to exploit vulnerabilities in computer networks.

  • CompTIA CASP+

    Covering both security architecture and engineering, CASP+ is a hands-on, performance-based certification for advanced cyber security practitioners. It qualifies technical leaders to assess cyber-readiness and implement solutions to fortify an organization against the next attack.

Build technical skills

Risk assessment, troubleshooting, penetration testing and other responsibilities associated with cyber security require a medley of fundamental and specialized technical skills that include the following:

  • Programming languages

    An important core competency for cyber defenders, knowledge of programming languages like Python are essential for learning how to run web administration tasks as well as for network programming.

  • Security operations

    Cyber security professionals not only need to know how to recognize and neutralize threats, but they also have to know how to work within a security operations center (SOC). One of few universities to offer this advanced course for future SOC Analysts, DeVry’s SEC455 Security Operations Center can help you learn how to protect assets from identified threats, as well as familiarize you with the various roles within SOC’s and what their objectives are.

  • Risk identification and management

    An ongoing responsibility of any cyber security professional is measuring and analyzing risk and understanding how combatting them fits into their organization’s overall risk management strategy.

  • Data management and analysis

    As organizations accumulate and process increasingly large amounts of information, cyber security professionals are expected to know how to create systems to efficiently collect, organize and analyze data, and protect it from security breaches. 

  • Cloud implementation and management

    Data storage and sharing is increasingly happening in a cloud environment. Cyber security personnel should understand cloud systems and processes, and how internal and external cloud systems could become targets for cybercriminals.

  • Attack surface management

    This technical area focuses on the analysis of an organization’s vulnerabilities from the hacker’s perspective. By detecting and repairing weaknesses in their networks, organizations can minimize their attack surface, or potential points of entry, making them a smaller target for hackers. 

  • Access management

    An important element of cyber security is managing who has access to what data across an organization’s network. Identity verification, monitoring and security alerts to prevent unauthorized access are all crucial components of access management and fundamental to a strong cyber security strategy.

Develop soft skills

While technical skills are required for any role in cyber security, a variety of soft skills, also called workplace skills, are also desirable to complement them.

If you’re planning to pursue a cyber security career, work on developing these skills:

  • Problem-solving

    Troubleshooting requires approaching problems systematically. In a cyber security environment where real or simulated problems are a constant, problem-solving, critical thinking and troubleshooting comprise a must-have skill set.

  • Communication

    Regardless of your role, strong verbal and written communication skills are important. Strong communications skills can help you to engage more effectively with your colleagues and various stakeholder groups. This might include translating technical topics into language that people without a technical background can understand. It may also involve the promotion of healthy security practices to diverse, community-wide audiences.

  • Collaboration and teamwork

    Listening, patience, open-mindedness and other collaboration traits contribute to a better, more productive environment and enable you to seek out other people’s expertise to find solutions. 

  • Attention to detail

    When working under pressure, cyber security professionals need to be detail-oriented to find and repair small system vulnerabilities or use digital forensic tactics to investigate data breaches.  

Gain experience

Many entry-level jobs in cyber security require some prior experience. So how do you get started? Relevant, practical experience can be gained by working in specific cyber security-related roles like:

  • Networking

    This role focuses on maintaining hardware, software and networks, and also may involve troubleshooting and performing operations related to the protection of data. 

  • Software development

    Responsible for the development and testing of new software or equipment, software developers play an important role in tight cyber security measures.

  • Systems engineering

    Roles in systems engineering involve maintaining and upgrading software systems, as well as designing and developing them. 

  • Financial and risk analysis

    Companies use risk analyses to determine potential cyber threats and project the costs associated with risk mitigation. This process may involve the development of data-tracking software.

  • Security intelligence

    In this cyber security-related role, analysts identify potential threats to a company’s data and the software and intelligence related to it, then propose solutions to resolve these conditions.

Take the First Step Toward a Career in Cyber Security

At DeVry, our certificate and degree programs in information technology, networking and cyber security are designed with your success – and your timeline – in mind. Our 100% online Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security can help you develop fundamental skills to combat cybercrime and prepare to pursue industry-relevant cyber security certifications in as little as 1 year and 2 months on a minimum schedule, or 1 year and 6 months on a normal one.2

If you want to continue your education with DeVry, this undergraduate certificate can serve as a building block to our Associate Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking. All courses from the associate degree then stack into our Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking, allowing you to work toward a 4 year degree while earning credentials that you can put to use in the workplace along the way.

DeVry University’s Cyber Security curriculum is acknowledged and verified as an approved provider by the National Initiative of Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS).

Classes start every 8 weeks, so you can balance your commitment to education with work, family and other elements of your busy life. 

1Growth projected on a national level. Local growth will vary by location. BLS projections are not specific to DeVry University students or graduates and may include earners at all stages of their career and not just entry level.
2Normal schedule assumes 2 semesters of year-round, full-time enrollment in 7-13 credit hours a semester per 12 month period. Minimum schedule does not include breaks and assumes 3 semesters of year-round, full-time enrollment in 7-13 credit hours a semester per 12 month period.

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