If a student is looking for a job that is truly recession-proof even during the current economic upheaval, he/she need not look any further. There is indeed a specialization that is now ranked 4th largest among all technology domains and boasts of zero unemployment. This specialization is none other than Cyber Security.
As technology progresses, an ever-higher percentage of humanity is relying on computers and computer-aided devices to carry out their daily activities. Right from simple web browsing to e-commerce transactions, banking / financial activities, social networking and other specialized tasks, we use our computers for a large part of the day. This trend is steadily going up and computer usage is ever increasing. In India, 23% of urban households and 4% of rural households owned a computer in 2019. Over 350 Million Indians (26% of the population) own a smartphone.
However, the crooks are getting smarter as well and are getting armed with an ever-increasing arsenal of complex and consistent tools (like viruses, Trojans or other forms of malware) to wrest control of online activities and data in an unfair manner. As per CybersercurityVentures.com data, the total value of cyber crimes is expected to touch a mind-boggling USD 6 Trillion in 2021. This is where Cyber Security comes in – experts in this technology work as online policemen to prevent, detect or repair cyber attacks or its effects.
An interesting case in hand is that of Antivirus developers like McAfee, Norton or Quick Heal. Malicious software gets released into the system in a regular, almost continuous, basis. These companies have to be on their toes – bringing out a solution almost immediately and push it to all users to prevent any damage. The turnaround time is very short – often in minutes – for these engineers. Thus, a complete command on the technology is expected.
Students who would like to make a career in Cyber Security can also branch out to the related field of Ethical Hacking. Professional ethical hackers use their skills to benevolently identify and penetrate security loopholes in computer systems to pre-empt malicious attacks. These professional are hired with very high pay packages by all application development companies to make their product secure and tamper-proof.
Cyber Security professionals have other specializations to consider as well. One popular option is computer forensics. Specialists in this area collect and analyze data from computing devices and store them in an acceptable format so that they can be presented as evidence in case the security of the machine is breached. Then, there are specialists associated with particular domains like internet security, network security, data security and information security who deal with the safety of systems and users in specific areas. All in all, the primary job of a Cyber Security engineer is to identify risks, prevent attacks and ensure the safety of online users.
But then, if someone wants to become a Cyber Security engineer by professions, what are the study options available? Based on a study of the various options available for students in India, there seem to be two broad choices:
- Study a basic engineering course in any discipline (preferably related to computer science) followed by a specialized training in Cyber Security.
- Study a specialized course of Cyber Security at UG level.
Upon careful comparison, it turns out that the first option is costlier and takes a longer duration than the second one. Cyber Security typically does not have a significant presence in the undergraduate syllabi of Indian universities and may be offered as a 1-semester course. Post-graduation, the student needs to enrol in a specialized course mostly offered by private players, which is time-consuming and costly. Keeping these difficulties in mind, AICTE has allowed Indian universities to offer undergraduate courses specializing in Cyber Security wherein the student gains the entire knowledge within the UG course duration itself without having to spend any extra time or money to meet the expanding market demand.
As of now, almost all of the undergraduate courses in Cyber Security are offered as an Engineering stream. For example, Adamas University in Kolkata offers a B.Tech course in Computer Science, specializing in Cyber Security, which allows a student to gain the complete expertise within a period of 4 years. The student can directly approach relevant companies for suitable placement after completion of this course.
So, what does a student learn in a typical Cyber Security course? In addition to the normal course structure in B.Tech in Computer Science & Engineering, these programs have specialized semester-long courses on:
- Data Security (Theory & Lab)
- Network Security & Governance (Theory & Lab)
- Ethical Hacking (Theory & Lab)
- Digital Forensics (Theory & Lab)
- Internet Security
And more courses depending on the curriculum structure defined by the University. The students learn the technology of blocking threats, creating and implementing a firewall, mitigating risks and ensuring the well-being of the computer user. With the popularity of mobile smartphones and their extensive usage for communication and transactions, security of these devices are also an important requirement and are a part of any course on Cyber Security.
Thus, if one wants an interesting, dynamic and recession-proof career with a high pay package and has a willingness to fight against malicious intentions, then cybersecurity may be just appropriate.