To learn cybersecurity is to gain power in the digital era. Cybersecurity professionals are often dubbed as the online superheroes who save the virtual world from fraudsters and scammers. However, one must not get carried away by the titles since, as easy as it may sound, getting a degree or completing a course in cybersecurity is no small feat. Cybersecurity for beginners is, in itself, a tough nut to crack due to the intricacies in the subject. But this too, should not dissuade an interested candidate from learning more. That said, some of the best cybersecurity courses are online-based and require one to have basic knowledge about certain things. This includes a degree in Computer Science (preferably) or high-school knowledge in the same. There are other things to remember too that are mentioned in detail in the article.
Prerequisites for a degree in cybersecurity
For a good learning experience and a prosperous cybersecurity career, one must be prepared to acquire the knowledge. That said, cybersecurity is a tough concept even in its basics and encompasses a list of crucial topics that a student must explore. To make the most of the education being imparted, it is imperative that they first have a good grasp of the following prerequisites.
HTML is the basic that everyone in the technology area must know. Why it is a prerequisite to cybersecurity is easy to understand: it can be used by hackers to launch a cross-site scripting attack. They can use HTML to change some of the basic codes on a website and show unwarranted messages to the visitors, thereby slandering the owners. Knowledge of HTML will not only help a cybersecurity professional understand where the attacker had made the changes but will also help them protect the website and its contents.
Python is the king of coding languages when it comes to automation and can be used well to automate some important tasks like malware analysis. But what makes it pivotal is the existence of hackers who predominantly use third-party scripts to take over web applications. The process is usually automated and inevitably, Python is the language used for it. If a cybersecurity professional has sound knowledge of Python, they can disarm such characters by running their scripts to prevent further damage, or even safeguard the site from attacks.
A degree in computer science
A degree in computer science, although not a mandatory prerequisite, is recommended. Learning advanced cybersecurity concepts requires knowledge of the basics of computer science (like the coding, scripting, and markup languages mentioned above). If an aspiring cybersecurity expert does not have the required education, they might find it extremely difficult to cope with the concepts discussed in a cybersecurity course. Hence, some of the best cybersecurity courses like great learning are tailored to their curriculum to suit the latest needs of their students.
It is possible to take a cybersecurity course without having a degree in computer science first. However, then the prerequisite will be to garner enough knowledge about the basics of the subject (high school standard) before jumping into the course.
Syllabus of a cybersecurity course
The cybersecurity demand has risen considerably, thanks to the digital awareness of the current generation that percolated to the previous ones too. The domain has assumed an important position in the virtual world and is being taken seriously by organizations across the globe.
Given below is a comprehensive list of topics that acclaimed online institutes like Great Learning teach. The interested candidates must note here that the cybersecurity course is developed in association with Stanford University.
Security design revolves around automating the controls of data security and building an infrastructure that can be used to integrate security into the IT management procedures. Security design is a crucial subject that paves the way for learning the uses of artificial intelligence in cybersecurity. Most courses have a dedicated session to discuss security design at length.
The attacks and their subsequent defenses in the cybersecurity domain
The courses contain an introduction to the kind of attacks that an organization might be exposed to if the security is not up to the mark. The attacks and their typical characteristics are discussed later since students are given the space to familiarize themselves with the foundational topics first. Hence, the initial exchange is merely to introduce them to the kind of threats that their clients can face and the appropriate defense that can be put in place to ensure a speedy recovery from the situation.
An introduction to the premise of cryptography
Irrespective of whether the student has some experience in computer science or not, this section is of importance in all courses available online and offline. Here, they are formally introduced to the concept of cryptography. The principles are mostly discussed in brief and some information is given out to make the candidate comfortable with the topic. Most people tend to skip these lectures but that is highly dissuaded since it works as a warm-up before the big game.
The applications of the foundations of Cryptography
This section usually takes a student a little deeper into the concepts of cryptography. It will be safe to say that it is the harbinger of more advanced cybersecurity concepts that will come up in the latter half of the course. The discussion here revolves around the applications of cybersecurity and how one can use complex topics in the upcoming sections in real situations.
SQL injections are some of the worst kinds of cyber attacks as these can destroy the database of an organization. A cybersecurity student is aware of the importance that databases play in a company. It is the basic storage unit responsible for keeping the data that the business bases its decisions on. If this system is harmed, there are high risks of leakage of confidential data which can compromise not only the integrity of the company but also of its collaborators and clients.
Hence, cybersecurity courses have a dedicated section to enlighten the students about the topic. Only through knowledge can one gain power over something and the reason behind teaching this subject is similar to that.
Cross-site scripting strikes
Cross-site scripting techniques are vulnerabilities found in unsecured web applications. It is a crucial tool that enables hackers to gain control of the same-origin policy without a hindrance. Cross-site scripting allows malicious characters to bypass access control protocols if they are not strong enough.
Cybersecurity professionals must have sufficient knowledge about such attacks and should subsequently develop an appetite to track related vulnerabilities in a system. Hence, it forms an important part of the syllabus.
HTTPS in the web security domain
HTTPS is of special importance in the web security domain. All websites, at the beginning (or without an SSL certificate), are deemed insecure. While most web-hosting packages include an SSL certificate, many do not. This certificate, short for Secure Sockets Layer, encrypts the link between a user and the website for safe transactions and usage from the front-end. The topic, therefore, is crucial to have a good cybersecurity career simply because of its popularity and relevance in the world today.
The following points in the list are advanced topics that are subject to the understanding of the previous ones. A student who works hard to acquire knowledge of the above will find it significantly easier to understand the following too.
- Session management
- Browser security
- Symmetric encryption in Cryptography
- Public keys
- Identification protocols
- Network security
- Threats and defenses
- Writing codes securely
After getting a cybersecurity degree
After one gets a degree, it is important to chalk out the future of cybersecurity for them. There are several options they can choose from besides becoming a professional right away. Since cybersecurity is growing rapidly, a lot of people choose to specialize in one or more fields in the domain. For example, artificial intelligence in cybersecurity is a topic that is being heavily explored right now, owing to the need for intelligent systems and automation.
Hence, here are the things that an individual, after their cybersecurity course, can do.
One can choose to study more and get a specialization degree in cybersecurity. The process ensures their quick succession to a position of repute where their knowledge will matter more. Moreover, specialists earn more than those who have not specialized in anything yet.
Here are some specializations one can go for:
- Cybersecurity expert and investigator
- Information system auditor
- Information security management
- Information systems security professional
- Security professional
- Certified systems engineering
- IT management in cybersecurity
- Computer Science with networks and cybersecurity
Jobs in the cybersecurity domain
One can choose to take a job right after their cybersecurity course. This will help them build up practical experience much faster. Some of the topmost companies across the globe want candidates with experience and hands-on knowledge and such individuals can reap the benefits of such a job quicker.
Some jobs that a cybersecurity graduate or certificate holder can apply to are mentioned below:
- Forensic expert
- Security manager
- Security consultant
- Security analyst
- Incident responder
- Security administrator
- Security auditor
- Vulnerability Assessor
- Penetration testes
Any student with an affinity to break the codes, looking out for the vulnerabilities should consider cybersecurity as a career. Since the field of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, one must enhance their skills constantly to establish strong career in cybersecurity.There are many free cybersecurity course available online like Great learning Academy , Created especially for students who have the thirst to learn more but have limited resources, the company and its collaborating partners have left no stones unturned in preparing the best syllabi for all their subjects, irrespective of their costs.