Computer Security

Although the internet has been around for many years, the possibility of conducting all of one’s business online – from banking to shopping and even social communication – only recently has become commonplace.

With more and more business being conducted over the internet, the need for protecting one’s personal information has greatly increased. Sensitive material such as bank account numbers, social security numbers and credit card accounts all are available online, making it easier than ever for criminals to gain access to our most valuable information. Individuals now can be robbed of their life savings with just a few strokes of a keypad by a skilled hacker.

According to the 2012 Internet Crime Report, issued by the Internet Crime Complaint Center of theFederal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI received and processed 289,874complaints in 2012 – an average of more than 24,000 complaints per month. The report indicates an 8.3 percent increase in unverified losses between 2011 and2012.

The need for computer security – the protection of computer systems and the data stored on them – is in high demand, as well as the trained professionals who provide these security services. An exciting new branch of the criminal justice field, the need for trained computer security experts is expected to grow by 22 percent between now and the year 2020, according to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is faster than the average growth of demand for other job sectors.

So how does one go about becoming a computer security expert?

Both traditional classroom and online degree programs are available to those who wish to train in this exciting field.

  • Associate Degree: These two-year programs provide the basics necessary for landing an entry-level job in computer security, as a network analyst or as a cyber security officer. Skills in managing and administering computer networks will be explored, as well as how to create and manage accounts and configure network routers. Other skills that are taught include how to develop and implement a disaster-recovery policy, network security policy and cyber security strategies designed to keep computer networks secure. Associate degree programs in computer security are available through both online schools and traditional two-year colleges and technical schools and are the minimum education level required in order to work in this industry.
  • Bachelor Degree: Four-year degree programs, both online and traditional, take the basics of an associate degree program and expand on them. In addition to taking courses in topics such as information technology and cyber ethics and security policy, students also will gain vital knowledge in how to pursue criminals who have committed cyber crimes.
  • Master Degree: Advanced-level degrees are available for computer security and are offered by both online and traditional schools. Students who choose to pursue a master degree in computer security likely will need to declare an area of concentration, such as computer security, network security or governance/risk management/compliance.

Whether choosing an online degree program or a traditional college setting, students should seek out institutions that are accredited.Accreditation guarantees that the program meets educational standards for the industry, and increases a graduate’s chance of finding employment with top-notch employers.

Among the approved accrediting agencies for computer technology programs are the AccreditingCommission of Career Schools and College of Technology (ACCSCT), the ComputingScience Accreditation Board and the Middle States Association of Colleges andSchools.

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