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Why Is Cyber Security Important?

By Steve Smith

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.


April 12, 2024

9 min read

Why is cyber security important? Today’s Internet of Things economy depends heavily on data systems and the massive amounts of information they contain. Cyber security and information security professionals are charged with safeguarding these data systems and networks. The increasing frequency and impact of cyberattacks calls for heightened awareness and vigilance, sophisticated tactics and expanded training for all organizational personnel who have access to networks and the data they contain.

As we explore why cyber security is important, we’ll first define what cyber security is, describe the various types of cyber security that contribute to a safer online and data communication environment, and look at the economic, regulatory, legal and national security impacts of cybercrime.

What Is Cyber Security?

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) defines cyber security as the art of protecting the devices, networks and data that our economy relies upon so heavily from unauthorized access or criminal use. When you think about how much of our personal information, whether it’s used for banking and financial transactions, access to healthcare or online shopping, is stored on someone else’s system, you can begin to understand the importance of protecting this information from cybercriminals. 

Cyber security can be practiced anywhere by anyone. This includes anyone, from the most casual computer user to the cyber security pros who work full time to defend the huge networks and information systems that enable us to shop, learn, manage our finances, pay our bills and do all kinds of things online, against cybercrime.

The Continued Rise of Cybercrime

Statistics show that the frequency and severity of cyberattacks has escalated, demonstrating why cyber security is important and prompting CISA to further emphasize the importance of ensuring the confidentiality of information. 

The stakes are high for both individuals and organizations. Over the past 2 decades the introduction of mobile devices, the Internet of Things and widespread adoption of cloud computing have expanded the cyber security threat landscape, opening the door for numerous ways that cybercriminals can attack organizations and their sensitive data. With social engineering attacks, supply chain hacks, web application attacks and denial of service (DoS) attacks, we’ve reached a point where the importance of cyber security cannot be overstated. 

At the core of cyber security is the need to identify and resolve vulnerabilities in software or hardware that can provide entry points for hackers to gain access or infect them with malicious software, also known as malware. Information security professionals perform an ongoing symphony of auditing, testing, programming and patching to eliminate these vulnerabilities and repel cyber adversaries. 

What can be done to reduce the risk of a cyberattack? Regardless of their roles, employees of businesses large and small can take steps to minimize the risk of falling for a cyberattack with basic cyber hygiene. Best practices include watching out for suspicious emails, keeping software up to date, using encryption, installing anti-virus and anti-malware programs and using strong passwords.

Types of Cyber Security

The term cyber security is broadly applied to a range of different ways of safeguarding information, the systems and networks it’s kept on, and the applications used within those systems. Several types of cyber security exist within this ecosystem, illustrating just how important cyber security is and how widespread the use of cyber security measures have become:

  • Cloud security: Organizations are adopting cloud computing at an increasing rate, making cloud security a major priority and helping to answer the “why is cyber security important” question. While cloud providers offer security measures, a robust cloud security strategy is encouraged to protect data, applications and infrastructure against cyber threats.

  • Infrastructure security: When critical infrastructure like roads, bridges, public transportation and utilities malfunction, it affects nearly every segment of our society. It may not be easy to think of a bridge or road as a technology, but over the last decade and a half, digital transformation has made critical infrastructure vulnerable to bad actors of all sorts.

  • IoT security: The IoT devices that bring an unprecedented level of convenience to our lives can be used as pathways for hackers to gain access to corporate networks, or to be used as bots in a large-scale bot network. IoT security protects vulnerable devices like smart speakers by augmenting or patching their firmware.

  • Application security: Finding, fixing and preventing security vulnerabilities is becoming an integral part of the app development process. This type of cyber security prevents bot attacks and stops malicious interference with web applications and application programming interfaces (APIs). By adding application security right from the start of the software development process, developers and organizations reduce the likelihood of security weaknesses in their own code or in the third-party components they may use within their applications.

  • Endpoint security: For companies with mobile workforces, endpoint security allows them to secure end-user devices such as laptop and desktop computers with advanced threat prevention programming. These measures include data and network security controls, anti-phishing and anti-ransomware and technologies that provide forensic analyses.

  • Data security: Considering even the non-technical aspects of cyber security like human error and insider threats, data security is a broad umbrella that involves the array of tools, technologies, organizational policies and procedures that are used to safeguard data from unauthorized access, and help organizations comply with data privacy regulations.

  • Mobile security: Unauthorized mobile devices like tablets and smartphones can represent a significant cyber security threat if used to access corporate data. If left unfortified, they can be susceptible to phishing attacks and malicious software intrusions. Mobile device management solutions enable organizations to ensure that only compliant mobile devices have access to their networks and data.

  • Network security: A range of cyber security measures and apps are deployed to identify and block attacks against data networks, the environment where most cyberattacks occur. Solutions here include technologies like data loss prevention, identity access management, network access control and next-generation firewall applications that apply intrusion prevention system and malware protections.

The Impact of Cyber Crime

The potentially devastating impact of cybercrime on businesses and their computer systems, individuals and our society takes its toll in several ways, going beyond loss of revenue and reputation to potentially threatening national security.

The cost of cybercrime is also rising. According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) annual report, cybercrime in the United States rose by 22% in 2023, resulting in $12.5 billion in losses. The IC3 received 880,418 complaints over the year, a 10% increase from what was reported in 2022. While investment fraud and business email compromise scams represented the bulk of the complaints in 2023, there was a 74% jump in reported losses from ransomware attacks.

The impact of cybercrime can be felt by organizations and individuals in several ways:

  • Economic cost: Cybercrime can have crippling financial effects on businesses or individuals. Individuals’ losses through unauthorized transactions can be difficult to recover. For businesses, the loss of customer data or intellectual property can force them to shut down as they recover from an outright theft or ransomware attack. A significant disruption could cause wide-reaching socio-economic impact, stemming from the loss of consumer confidence and a resulting drop in sales and revenue. Intellectual property theft can result in substantial long-term economic consequences, leading to a decline in industry innovation and competitiveness.

  • Loss of reputation and brand trust: A successful cyberattack can substantially undermine an organization’s reputation, diminishing valuable brand equity and eroding consumer trust and confidence in the organization’s ability to safeguard personal information. Cybercrime can damage an individual’s reputation as well, particularly in professional settings.

  • Regulatory fines or sanctions: A data breach or failure to adequately respond to one can lead to significant penalties, particularly for information that’s protected under the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Under HIPAA, failure to comply with the breach notification requirements can result in substantial financial penalties in addition to those imposed for the breach itself.

  • Legal repercussions: Businesses that have experienced data breaches can also be subject to civil penalties or litigation. Organizations in tightly regulated industries like healthcare and finance may be particularly vulnerable.

  • Identity theft: Individuals can experience devastating consequences from identity theft, in which cybercriminals use stolen personal identification information to take out loans or commit other fraudulent acts in the individual’s name. In addition to the financial losses, this form of cybercrime can take a substantial emotional toll on the victim.

  • National security concerns: Activists or nation states can use cybercrime tactics in a variety of ways that can threaten national security. Cybercriminals can stir up social and political unrest in a population or engage in acts of espionage. They can attack government or military networks or interfere with critical infrastructure like power grids and transportation systems, causing hardship and contributing to economic or public health crises.

Prepare to Pursue Your Cyber Security Career with DeVry

Citing the growing frequency of cyberattacks, the U.S. 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.1 This growth Is 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.

If you’d like to join the fight to safeguard information systems as a cyber defender, DeVry can help. We offer several skills-focused degree and certificate programs designed to prepare you to pursue important cyber security roles. For example, you can earn our online Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber Security with no previous IT training, in as little as 1 year and 2 months on an minimum schedule, or 1 year and 6 months on a normal one.2 

2Normal schedule and 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.

This undergraduate certificate program provides a pathway toward developing core cyber security-related skills and can help you prepare to pursue industry-relevant certifications like CompTIA Cloud+, CompTIA PenTest+, CompTIA Security+ and others.  

Looking to enroll in something more advanced? Our Bachelor’s Degree in Cybersecurity and Networking program can help you build your skills in everything from cloud and network data security, vulnerability testing, ethical hacking, business continuity and much more.  

As a student in this qualifying online technology bachelor’s program3, you’ll receive a complimentary laptop during your second session. It’s our way of investing in your cybersecurity education—and you.

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

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 and 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.

3As part of this program, one complimentary laptop is provided to students enrolled in the Associate in Cybersecurity and Networking, Associate in Information Technology and Networking, Associate in Engineering Technology, Bachelor’s of Information Technology and Networking, Bachelor’s of Software Development, Bachelor’s of Engineering Technology, Bachelor’s of Cybersecurity and Networking and Bachelor’s of Computer Information Systems. The laptop is issued during the student’s second session. Certain restrictions apply.

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