The Sever Insider

What is Cybersecurity?

Have you been wondering what cybersecurity is? Explore more about one of the fastest growing fields filled with opportunity and diversity.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job growth for information security analysts, for example, is projected to grow 35 percent through 2031. That’s nearly seven times the growth rate for all jobs in general.

Understanding the Importance of Cybersecurity and Cybercrime

What is Cybersecurity?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, cybersecurity is the art of protecting networks, devices and data from unauthorized access or criminal use and the practice of ensuring confidentiality, integrity and availability of information.

Simply put, cybersecurity involves protecting computers, computer systems and computer networks from malicious attacks. Cybercrime is growing exponentially and can affect anything from massive global computer networks to the phone in your hand.

Why is Cybercrime a Problem?

Top-secret government information stolen. Your cell phone provider’s network crashes. A retail giant’s customer database hacked and consumers’ personal information is sold on the dark web. And then there’s money. Lots of it. Everything from money lost due to computer network shutdowns to money stolen from online bank accounts to money extorted to restore a computer network. According to a Forbes article titled “Cybersecurity Trends & Statistics For 2023: What You Need To Know,” the cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $10.5 trillion by 2025. This helps bring into focus the importance of cybersecurity.

What’s the Solution to Cybercrime?

Continually improving cybersecurity. And preparing more cybercrime fighters. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job growth for information security analysts, for example, is projected to grow 35 percent through 2031. That’s nearly seven times the growth rate for all jobs in general.

Read on for more on answering the question, “what is cybersecurity?”

Existing and Evolving Threats to Cybersecurity

Cybercrime has been around longer than you may realize. According to Wikipedia, the first cyberattack in the U.S. occurred on November 2, 1988, when only 60,000 computers were connected to the Internet. Cornell University student Robert Tappan Morris developed and unleashed the first computer “worm” program that slowed infected computers. Though Morris claimed he just wanted to count the number of computers that could access the Internet, his cyberattack resulted in the first felony conviction in the U.S. under the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

In the decades since, cybercrime has evolved into the pervasive — and expensive ― threat we face today. The importance of cybersecurity has never been higher. Let’s look at some of the top existing cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities.

Backdoor Attack
Backdoors are a secret method of bypassing normal authentication or security controls. Backdoors, which can be very hard to detect, are usually discovered by someone with intimate knowledge of the operating system of the computer or network.

Denial-of-Service Attack
Denial-of-service attacks make a computer or network resource unavailable to its intended users. Once attackers deny service, they can demand a ransom to allow the system to function again.

Direct-Access Attack
Unauthorized users gain physical access to a computer and can copy its data, compromise its security, install viruses and even eavesdrop by installing covert listening devices.

Tampering leverages malicious modifications or alterations of data. Think of the potential for anything from voting machine fraud to altering nuclear weapon launch codes.

Emerging Threats
Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to be a game-changer for both cybersecurity and cybercrime. AI is already being used to create deepfake videos and photos and chatbots that look and act (and learn) like humans. Could you be the cybersecurity specialist who revolutionizes the use of AI against cybercriminals?

Phishing uses phony emails that appear to be from official sources (like a bank or government agency) to get users to click on a fraudulent link, which the hacker can use to gain access to the user’s accounts, money and private information.

Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering allows an electronic object (anything from a computer chip to a fighter jet) to be deconstructed to reveal its designs, code and architecture, or to extract data from the object.

The Master of Cybersecurity Management degree from the Sever Institute at Washington University in St. Louis is ideal for professionals of all experience levels, from those just starting their professional journey to seasoned veterans looking to advance their career. WashU’s Cybersecurity Management master’s degree curriculum provides students with the knowledge needed to prevent, defend against, respond to and recover after cyberattacks


Imagine Your Role in the Cybersecurity Battle

As cybercrime continues to surge and evolve, the importance of cybersecurity is poised to become one of the top issues of our time. According to a Deloitte Center for Controllership poll, 34.5 percent of executives polled reported that their organizations’ accounting and financial data were targeted by hackers in the past year. Nearly half (48.8 percent) of executives expect the number and size of cyber events targeting their organizations’ accounting and financial data to increase in the year ahead.

Cybersecurity professionals are needed in virtually every field, including:

  • Financial systems
  • Utilities and industrial equipment
  • Aviation
  • Consumer devices
  • Healthcare
  • Corporations
  • Automobiles
  • Shipping
  • Government
  • The Internet of Things
  • Energy sector
  • Telecommunications
Let’s look at some of the roles in the cybersecurity field.

Cybersecurity Analysts
Responsible for identifying and mitigating cyber threats, cybersecurity analysts develop a deep understanding of the information technology and monitor, evaluate and remove threats that could potentially breach the network.

Cybersecurity Engineers
Cybersecurity engineers help design, develop and implement cybersecurity solutions that may involve developing new security software, implementing security policies and testing security systems.

Cybersecurity Architects
Like a building architect, cybersecurity architects design the schematics for cybersecurity systems. They design new security networks, implement security systems and manage security data.

Cybersecurity Consultants
Working in contract or freelance roles, cybersecurity consultants provide knowledge and guidance on cybersecurity systems to businesses and organizations. They may conduct security assessments, develop security plans and implement security solutions.

Cybersecurity Researchers
Think of crime scene forensics or solving mysteries. Cybersecurity researchers investigate new cyber threats and develop solutions to mitigate them.

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What is Cybersecurity? It Could Be the Most Exciting Career Path You Can Imagine.

Intrigued by the cybersecurity field? Interested in knowing more about how to become a cybersecurity professional? Explore the Washington University of St. Louis online master’s degree in Cybersecurity Management.

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WashU’s Master of Cybersecurity Management program allows you to complete your degree fully online around your busy schedule. Our 10-course, 30 credit hour master’s degree program will prepare you for an exciting career as a cybersecurity professional. We also offer a five-course, 15-credit-hour graduate certificate in Cybersecurity Management.

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