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Information Security Vs Cybersecurity: What’s the Difference?
So, you’re thinking about focusing on a degree in information security or cybersecurity? Either one of those areas of study would be a good choice and here’s why.
In 2018, over 970 million people in 20 countries were victims of cybercrimes. But this data just accounts for individual computer users. Businesses, on the other hand, lost over $2.7 billion, with the FBI stating it received over 350,000 complaints about these types of crimes, a rise of 50,000 from the year before.
That said, the demand is higher than ever for professionals with degrees and backgrounds in information security or cybersecurity, and that demand will increase for the foreseeable future.
But while the two fields share similarities, they are slightly different, and each discipline can offer a student a diverse and dynamic career trajectory.
Difference Between Information Security and Cybersecurity
When people in the tech industry talk about information security and cyber security, these two terms sometimes get used interchangeably. The truth is, while these two branches of technology security share similarities, in that they focus on protecting computers and the data on them, the differences between them are pretty specific.
Information security (also known as InfoSec) is an area that sometimes falls under the main heading of cybersecurity. It primarily has to do with protecting all data from unauthorized use, both physical data and computer-based data, specifically within a business or other type of organization. A more proper definition is that information security focuses on the protection of business information from being modified, interfered with, or even being destroyed. Types of information security are facial recognition software, two-factor authentication, etc.
Cybersecurity is more wide ranging, but specifically deals with protecting digital data from outside attacks that come from the Internet. It focuses on the protection of networks, servers, company intranets, etc. Additionally, cybersecurity is about controlling, managing, and preventing data breaches from outside an organization.
Similarities Between the Two Degrees
Just as information security and cybersecurity share some similarities in the professional world, the coursework to earn a degree for both fields have similarities but also many differences. For example, an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree can be obtained for both areas of study.
Both areas have students take heavy coursework in Information Technology and Computer Science. Students in both fields learn by participating in lab modules where they may be asked to construct models in order to understand how to respond to various scenarios they may encounter in the real world.
The coursework for cybersecurity students, however, will not task students with classes in information technology and computer science, but do study in areas like criminology, law, and mathematics.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity specializes in the protection of systems accessed through the Internet or other means, specifically the protection of any form of digital or electronic data.
Usually, that protection entails preventing access to servers, routers, intranets, etc. from unauthorized sources. An associate degree or bachelor’s degree is required for a job in cybersecurity, but some students earn a master’s degree or even a doctorate.
Careers & Outlook
The amount of jobs in cybersecurity increased 91% from 2010 – 2014. Types of jobs a student can possibly obtain are Cybersecurity Compliance Analyst, Cybersecurity Analyst, Cryptographer, Forensics Expert, and at the highest level, Chief Information Security Officer.
But even with an associate degree, students just starting out in the cybersecurity field can earn an average pay of $77,810 and have the chance to score a top-notch job in the following areas:
- IT Help Desk
- Network Administration
- Systems Administration
What is Information Security?
Information security is loosely defined as the protection of printed, electronic, or any other form of confidential data from unauthorized access, use, misuse, disclosure, destruction, etc.
Basically, an information system can be any place data can be stored. This could be on a server, a personal computer, a thumb drive, a file cabinet, etc.
Careers & Outlook
65% of information security professionals have a degree, usually a bachelor’s degree, and 23% have a master’s degree, while 11% have no degree. An associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree are offered in the discipline of information security just as in cybersecurity.
Those who earn a master’s degree usually get additional education in the field through certifications, which require a certain level of experience. These certifications also require additional training and are time restricted, which means the certification has to be renewed after three years via another round of training and examination.
There are many certifications in information security; here are just a few: Certified Information Security Manager, Cybersecurity Forensic Analyst, Certified Confidentiality Officer, Certified Internet Web Professionals, and Certified Computer Crime Investigator.
Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is forecasting an increasing demand in jobs for information security professionals. Over 27,000 jobs in the field will need to be filled by 2022. The average salary ranges from $49,960 to $135,600 with $86,170 being the typical salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree and less than five years of work experience in the field.
Advanced Education in Information Security or Cybersecurity
Like most areas in the technology field, the area of security is constantly changing and evolving. Once students have earned a degree in information security or cybersecurity, the education track usually doesn’t end there.
In order for security professionals to advance further in their chosen fields, an advanced degree is usually necessary. An advanced degree along with work experience will also open the door to the certification process that can allow for even more career advancement.
If students or current security professionals only have an associate degree, they can pursue a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree at many colleges and universities, such as the one offered at CityU’s Master of Science in Information Security program.
With advanced coursework in areas like IT governance, cryptography and security mechanisms, and e-business security, security professionals can not only earn more pay, but they can possibly advance into management positions.
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