Once-upon-a-time, all we had to worry about were the kind of computer security threats that could be swiftly taken care of with a good antivirus and anti-malware application. But today, cyber threats have moved into the big league, and they can take down entire companies, hold governments to ransom, swing elections results, ruin a nation’s infrastructure, and even potentially launch weapon strikes. Technology is a wonderful thing, but sometimes you have to wonder if it’s been worth it. As Oppenheimer, the father of the nuclear bomb, lamented of his technology —”I am become death, the destroyer of worlds,”—we might stop and wonder at the power that we have given the systems that control our daily lives, enabling disruption to those systems that could utterly wreck civilization as we know it. Fewer than ten countries currently possess nuclear weapons, but any state, or indeed any individual with the right knowledge, can unleash cyber weapons of mass destruction.
Why The Tech We Love So Much Is Such a Threat
The tech itself isn’t the threat; it’s what we’ve done with it that’s the problem. The threat comes from the degree of control that we have handed off to poorly guarded strings of one’s and zero’s whizzing around in silicon chips. Imagine how long orderly society would last if hackers took down our power grid. Everything would stop. No electricity. No water. No hospital services. No traffic lights resulting in gridlock in cities. No food deliveries to stores. No banking. No communications. Nothing would work. And as the saying goes, we’re all just three meals away from anarchy.
An attack on the grid is a frightening prospect, but just as there are bad people with nefarious intent bashing out destructive code, there’s an entire army of white knights thwarting their every move—at least for now!
Cybersecurity Industry Stats
Back in 2004, the global cybersecurity industry was valued at $3.5 billion. Today that figure is a colossal $120 billion and it’s set to climb higher still, reaching $175 billion by the end of this year (2017). Currently, demand for cybersecurity professionals is very high and there aren’t enough qualified people to meet that demand. More worryingly, we’re looking at a projected global shortfall of around 1.5 million cybersecurity professionals by the end of this decade.
Top paying jobs in the cybersecurity industry command an impressive salary – and rightly so. Security software engineers can expect to earn around a quarter of a million dollars annually, and the average salary across the entire industry is close to $120,000 per year.
How You Can Join the Cause
You can get a basic introduction to cybersecurity with one of the free Mooc’s, but that’s unlikely to give you the skills that you’ll need to land a job in the industry. A great way to obtain the education that you need to be an effective cybersecurity professional is to take an online degree course in computer science, either at the bachelor’s level or the master’s level.
An online masters in computer science takes around two years to complete and because the study program is part-time you can continue working in your current field while you complete your masters in computer science online. Cybersecurity is the field to be in today’s threat-filled world. And it’s a field that has transformed the geeky-nerd into a superhero-rock star!