Information Assurance Associate Degrees Online
Online Information Assurance Associate Degree programs are set up to prepare students to develop information security programs institute data recovery plans and recover forensic evidence. If you have ever had your email account "hacked" into, you understand first-hand the value of protecting your online data from potential threats. On a larger scale, cyber threats pose escalating problems for networks, databases and financial information. If you enjoy working with computer technology an online associates degree in information assurance is worth considering.
Earning an Online Information Assurance Associate Degree: The Basics
An Online Information Assurance Associate Degree is a 2-year program. Prospective students are required to have a High School diploma in order to enroll. Many programs prepare students to pursue entry-level careers in the field (e.g. Network Support Specialist [i].) Accredited programs may also prepare students to take CompTIA's network and security certification examinations.
Recent data point to a 17-fold increase in the number of cyber attacks on U.S. infrastructure between 2009 and 2011[ii]
Associates degrees in Information Assurance tend to compress a lot of information into a short period of time. Most schools use the first year to cover the basics and then provide you with options/electives in the second year.
Information Assurance vs. Information Security Program
As an academic field, information assurance (IA) is interdisciplinary and relates to the business level and strategic risk management of information systems, rather than in the creation and application of security controls.[iii] Also, because we live in the digital age we associate information with electronic (digital) data, but information assurance also encompasses analog or physical form (data kept in electronic storage).
If this has you fascinated so far, you may want to distinguish between information assurance and information security. They are closely interwoven. But you may find some differences when it comes to the language of the Online Information Assurance Associate Degree program you are considering.
Information security (InfoSec) is the practice of protecting (digital and physical) information from unauthorized access, use, modification and destruction[iv]. It is a kind of umbrella term that encompasses information technology – computer security, as well as information assurance. Cyber security degrees may also be associated with InfoSec. As an academic field, computer science has a very strong draw.
Information assurance is actually a process that involves 3 stages:
- Risk assessment
- Risk management plan
Students of IA associate degree programs may learn basics in:
- Business accounting
- User experience
- Fraud examination
- Systems engineering
- Security engineering
- Computer science
DID YOU KNOW?
Information assurance as a field has grown from the practice ofinformation security.[v]
Types of Online Associates of Information Assurance Degrees
Online Associates in Information Assurance Degrees are offered as:
- Associate of Applied Science in Information Assuranceand
- Associate of Science in Information Assurance
Some schools allow for students to complete an interdisciplinary core of study and then tailor electives to their career or interests (e.g. Computer Forensics, Cyber Crime, Security Administration, information security etc.)
Associate of Applied Science in Information Assurance
If you are interested in a program that emphasizes the technical aspects of information security, ethical conduct, compliance, law enforcement and the development of strategic security plans, this path may be appropriate for you. Some of the potential learning outcomes in an onlineAssociate of Applied Science in Information Assurancedegree program might include:
- Basics in computing and software
- Fundamentals in copyright laws, ethics, privacy issues, and security threats
- Networking standards and protocols
- Fundamentals in information security (threats, issues)
- Developing security plans
Associate of Science in Information Assurance
If you are interested in exploring the variety of cyber threats facing information systems in government and governments, learning how to set up firewalls, secure networks, and develop strategies to implement to combat security breaches, this path may be a great fit. Some of the potential learning outcomes in earning an online Associate of Science in Information Assurance degree might include:
- Viruses and spyware
- Develop proficiency in software applications
- Internet protocol (IP)
- Intrusion recovery
- Virtual private networks
- Security policies
- Windows and Linux operating systems
- Disaster recovery
Graduates of accredited Online Information Assurance Associate Degree programs are eligible to take certification exams offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), including the CompTIA A+ examination. CompTIA A+ certification is for entry-level IT technicians, and is mandatory for many information technology organizations. Keep in mind that for many related careers, such as information security analysts, entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree, and for more advanced roles (think: more security clearance) a Masters or MBA in information systems/security may be required[vi].
In terms of accreditation, ABET is the agency that accredits programs in applied science, computing, engineering and engineering technology.[vii] Hint: Accreditation is quality control.
If you are considering earning an online cyber security degree, chances are you are looking for convenience, being able to study at your own tempo and juggling work or other responsibilities. That or you live too far from the school you hope to attend which would make an Online Information Assurance Associate Degree ideal for your needs.
Keep in mind that your program may involve virtual classroom learning as well as some onsite visits to take part in computer labs –this is where you learn about programming languages, operating systems and methods of improving system security. At any rate, read the details of any program you are considering so you are well informed of any and all requirements.
Take the Next Step
Whether you are hoping to head into the workplace after graduation or looking ahead to a future degree in Information Assurance, the security of data is not a passing trend. This could turn out to be a rewarding field of study with the potential for continued growth and education. So take that next step and find the Online Associate of Information Assurance degree that aligns with your ambitions!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-support-specialists.htm|[ii] bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-2/careers-in-growing-field-of-information-technology-services.htm [iii] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_assurance | [iv] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_security | [v] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_assurance |bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm | [vi] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm| [vii] abet.org