What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the application of computer science and best practices to protect computer systems, networks, devices and data from threats and risks called cyberattacks. Cyberattacks are designed to gain unauthorized access to computer systems to disable those systems or alter, steal or destroy information. As our world becomes more connected and dependent on computer networks and systems, cyberattacks have become far more commonplace and increasingly sophisticated.
Whether it’s called IT security, information technology security or computer security, the cybersecurity industry has been growing rapidly to meet the challenges of protecting data and the systems that store, transmit and analyze it. Skilled computer scientists with expertise in cybersecurity, privacy and risk management are in demand in all industries around the world.
The cybersecurity sector is composed of many different fields, with each field requiring different skills and abilities. Some cybersecurity roles require a broad set of skills, while others call for greater specialization. Some of the key fields in cybersecurity include:
- Security Architecture – Designing and implementing information technology security architectures for organizations.
- Data Loss Prevention – Ensuring that security protocols are installed and maintained to prevent the theft of financial records, intellectual property and customer data.
- Governance, Risk and Compliance – Creating, implementing and managing the policies and best practices needed to stay compliant with current standards and keep networks and data secure.
- Identity and Access Management – Keeping networks safe by managing identification, authorization and permissions across systems to prevent unauthorized access.
- Incident Response – Protecting networks in the event of an attack, to limit damage and protect vital data.
- Forensic Analysis – Examining cyberattacks to identify how an attack occurred, report them to the proper authorities and prevent future attacks.
- Vulnerability Management/Penetration Testing – Pretending to attack networks and systems looking for vulnerabilities, then providing recommendations to help prevent real attacks from occurring. Sometimes called “white-hat hackers.”
- Secure Software Development – Creating and improving third-party software for companies like Cisco and Symantec which protect networks against current and future threats.
As the cybersecurity sector grows, there will also be a growing demand for managers, executives and chief information officers who can oversee their organization’s cybersecurity needs. Interested in a cybersecurity career? You can find more information on our cybersecurity careers page.
Cybersecurity Industry Trends
Cybercrime is on the rise and will continue to be a threat far into the future, especially as more and more business is conducted online and more organizations embrace remote work. This drives cybersecurity industry growth. According to a report by Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime is poised to inflict $6 trillion in damages worldwide in 2021, and that number is expected to grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025. If cybercrime were an economy, it would be the third largest in the world, after the U.S. and China.
But cybercrime does more than steal money and information; it can cause financial ruin for individuals, put a business’s reputation at risk and even interrupt access to health care and other vital services.
The cybersecurity industry is a field where the demand for talent far outstrips the supply. Leading industry experts predict that even with almost 3 million cybersecurity professionals in the field, almost 4 million trained workers would be needed to close the skills gap and properly defend organizations.
Perhaps that’s why the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that someone with less than five years of experience in cybersecurity can earn around $100,000 a year, and the industry unemployment rate has stayed close to zero for over a decade.
What Do You Learn in Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity professionals require specialized computer science training to understand and develop new techniques to confront emerging cybersecurity threats. Your training needs to involve both the practical and theoretical foundations of computer networking, mathematics, cryptography and other specialized technical skills.
You need to understand how to develop secure networks, respond to cyberattacks and other threats, and stress- test networks and systems to protect against vulnerabilities.
It’s also important to learn about the human side of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity professionals need to learn how to create the most effective processes that keep networks safe, design and implement policies that align with the privacy and ethical standards of different industries and provide stakeholders with the education they need to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats.
For those interested in cybersecurity, Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics offers interdisciplinary training through its Bachelor of Science in Computing & Security Technology and advanced technical and specialized training through its Master of Science in Cybersecurity.
The MS in Cybersecurity is a joint program with the Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Department of Drexel’s College of Engineering. Please click here to visit ECE's website to learn more about the program.
Cybersecurity Graduate Programs at Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics
If you’re interested in playing an important role in an interesting and dynamic field that offers growth potential and high compensation, cybersecurity may be right for you. Drexel’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity can prepare you for those opportunities. Our master’s degree program offers an interdisciplinary curriculum with coursework from both the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in the College of Engineering (CoE) and the College of Computing & Informatics.
To accommodate working professionals, both on-campus and online programs taught by our award-winning faculty are available. In addition to their work in the classroom, our faculty and students are actively involved in cybersecurity research through Drexel’s Cybersecurity Institute. Students can also gain valuable hands-on experience by participating in Drexel’s Graduate Co-op cooperative education program. Perhaps that’s why Drexel’s cybersecurity program was ranked #3 in the nation by Military Times in its 2018 rankings and #2 by CyberDegrees.org in its 2021 rankings.
To learn more about our program, you can visit the Cybersecurity Graduate Programs page to learn how to apply for a master’s degree or doctorate in cybersecurity.