"Mini-Guide" to a Computer Security Degree

computer security degreeComputer security teaches you strategies to maintain and maximize the security of your organization's technological infrastructure. This means your company's network, servers, and computers are outfitted with rigorous security measures, including antivirus protection and firewalls, and information is accessible, but only to those with privileges.

If you're considering an online computer security degree, you came to the right place. Our "Mini-Guide to Online Computer Security Degrees" will give you the facts you need to make an informed decision.

1. What is computer security all about?

Computer security mainly consists of securing computers and networks from malicious attacks, viruses, worms, trojans, and malware. Here are how some reputable sources define computer security.

  • "Computer Security Specialists may plan, implement, upgrade, or monitor security measures for the protection of computer networks and information. They may ensure appropriate security controls are in place that will safeguard digital files and vital electronic infrastructure. They also may respond to computer security breaches and viruses." [1]
  • "Protection against unauthorized access to, or alteration of, information and system resources including CPUs, storage devices and programs." [2]

[1] onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1122.00?redir=15-1071.01 | [2] dictionary.reference.com/browse/security

2. Is an online computer security degree right for me?

Think about an online computer security degree if you:

  • don't panic when you see the "blue screen of death" on your computer
  • enjoy working with new technology
  • can remember numerous user names and passwords, even though you can't remember your family members' birthdays
  • have strong math skills
  • think anyone without ironclad virus protection on his or her computer is just asking for it
  • think logically and abstractly
  • have your own website
  • effortlessly crack your mom's e-mail password consisting of her cat's name and birthday
  • have an analytical mind
  • consider identity theft your worst nightmare
  • enjoy problem-solving
  • work well with others

3. What other degrees besides computer security should I consider?

Here are other tech-related online degrees to consider if computer security isn't your cup of tea:

  • Information Systems:
    Focus on how human beings solve problems, and then apply technology to that process. Create, produce and execute information technology that will meet the organizational or business expectations and requirements.
  • Information Technology:
    Information technology provides students with the aptitude to apply principles and theory in addressing business opportunities and creating solutions to operational problems.
    Online Information Technology Degrees
  • Programming:
    Learn programming languages to design, create, build, test, and update computer applications.
  • Computer Science & Engineering:
    Focus on how individuals use various technologies to accomplish various tasks; learn theory and design, and the way organizations, businesses, and groups utilize technology.
    Online Computer Science & Engineering Degrees
  • Networks:
    Networks connect computers in order to store and transmit data. Learn to build, expand, maintain, and secure them.
    Online Networking Degrees

4. How can I specialize my computer security degree?

Computer security is a concentration in and of itself. However, some college programs offer more specific concentrations within the computer security field. If you want to graduate with a highly-focused specialization, here are five common subfields worth exploring:

  • Networks
    Networks connect computers in order to store and transmit data. Learn to build, expand, maintain, and secure them.
  • Database Management
    Integrate, oversee, and update the database management system(s) used to create and maintain your organization's data.
  • Security Administration
    Fortify your technological infrastructure by learning to identify threats, create security policies, safeguard network files, and audit existing security procedures.
  • Programming
    Learn the programming languages, and use them to design, create, build, test, and update computer applications.
  • Web Development
    Learn Web development strategies with an emphasis on security. Safeguard your servers from external attack, and maintain your site's credibility by securing your visitors' pages.

5. What are some of the courses in an online computer security degree?

Computer security students don't just learn how computers work. They also learn how to protect the information within a computer or a computer network system. Courses in computer security may include:

  • Principles of Programming
  • Mathematical Logic
  • Statistics
  • Calculus
  • Fundamentals of Computer Security
  • Introductory Algorithm Analysis
  • Cryptography
  • Network Security
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Concepts and Applications
  • Legal and Ethical Issues
  • Linear Data Systems
  • Computer Science Fundamentals
  • Networking and Data Communications
  • Systems Design
  • Risk Analysis
  • Security Breaches
  • Software Engineering
  • Advanced Programming and Algorithms
  • Database Management

6. What skills might I learn in an online computer security degree?

The skills you learn while earning your computer security degree will vary according to your concentration, but these are the skills and competencies acquired most often by computer security majors:

  • Knowledge of how to use computers and networks to store information, perform vital functions, and remain competitive with other businesses in your market
  • Ability to identify weaknesses in a computer network
  • Development of software to safeguard a network's vulnerabilities
  • Familiarity with all relevant operating systems, server types, and platforms
  • Ability to ensure that computer systems run smoothly without interference from malicious software or hackers
  • Knowledge or familiarity with relevant programming languages
  • Capability of working with law enforcement to investigate computer crimes such as identity theft, "white collar crimes," or cyber-terrorism
  • An understanding of business and management principles

7. What kind of employers hire people with online degrees in computer security?

With a computer security degree, you can work in a variety of settings. Employment options include:

  • Any private organization with an internal technology department
  • Educational institutions, like colleges and universities, or even K–12 schools that maintain websites and secure student records
  • Local, state, and federal government organizations and agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security or the FBI
  • Banks/financial organizations
  • Computer security firms
  • Computer security software companies like Symantec (Norton Antivirus), McAfee, or Trend Micro
  • Information management firms, which are retained to protect sensitive informaton for intelligence agencies, the Department of Defense, and governments - whether local or abroad
  • Independent contracting as a consultant
  • Teaching computer security at the university level

8. What are some possible careers in computer security?

The computer security field includes a broad spectrum of positions that maintain the integrity of company information through tested security tactics.

Top roles in the computer security field include:

  • Security Consultant
  • Data Security Analyst
  • Computer Security Specialist
  • Security Architect
  • Network Operations Analyst
  • Systems Analyst
  • Information Security Crime Investigator
  • System Penetration Tester
  • Forensics Analyst
  • Vulnerability Researcher
  • Firewall Administrator
  • Security Auditor
  • Technical Security Teacher
  • Security Software Developer
  • Disaster Recover/Business Continuity

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