Computer security breaches are commonplace, and several occur around the world every day. Some are considered minor, with little loss of data or monetary resources, but many of them are considered major, or even catastrophic.
You might have heard about the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures’ network, which the FBI attributed to the North Korean government. More recently, Russian hackers have been accused of tampering with voting systems in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and with Ukranian businesses and governmental agencies.
Hackers are continuously looking for new vulnerabilities to exploit. When networks are not secured, information about organizations and individuals, and even our government are at risk of being exposed or leveraged against us.
Information security analysts develop and implement security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks. As the number of cyber-attacks increases, their knowledge and expertise are in growing demand.
If you’re considering a career in information technology, it’s important that you understand the basics of network security, including how you can protect yourself and others from harmful cyber attacks.
What is network security?
According to the SANS Institute, network security is the process of taking preventative measures to protect the underlying networking infrastructure from unauthorized access, misuse, malfunction, modification, destruction or improper disclosure. Implementing these measures allows computers, users and programs to perform their permitted critical functions within a secure environment.
Securing a network requires a complex combination of hardware devices, such as routers, firewalls and anti-malware software applications. Government agencies and businesses employ highly skilled information security analysts to implement security plans and constantly monitor the efficacy of these plans.
Why is network security important?
Network security is important for home networks as well as in the business world. Most homes with high-speed internet connections have one or more wireless routers, which could be exploited if not properly secured. A solid network security system helps reduce the risk of data loss, theft and sabotage.
PC Magazine offers simple steps you can take to make sure a home network is secure:
- Change your router admin username and password
- Change the network name
- Activate encryption
- Double up on firewalls
- Turn off guest networks
- Update router firmware
How can you become an information security analyst?
Information security analysts are in high demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment opportunities for information security analysts are projected to grow 18 percent between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Herzing University offers a Bachelor’s of Information Technology as well as a Cybersecurity Degree program. This degree can help individuals interested in a career in network security get a foundation in key skills that are used in protecting individuals and organizations from damaging cyber-attacks.
As a security technology student, you’ll learn about:
- Information assurance and security
- Ethical hacking
- Network security design
- Network defense
- Computer and network forensics
Herzing University offers an online computer networking bachelor's degree for students considering an IT job as a Computer Systems Analyst or Computer Network Architect, or Computer Network Support Specialist. Learn more about what you can do with a computer networking degree. However, for a career as an information security analyst with an emphasis on security, you’ll be better equipped with a degree in cybersecurity.
The safety and security of our society rest on our ability to protect confidential information from outside threats. You can be part of the front line against these threats if you pursue a career as an information security analyst.
Chris LaBounty is an academic and technologist with more than 20 years of experience in higher education and technology. He has developed and managed programs in information technology, mobile applications, networking and software engineering. In addition to teaching and leading academic programs, Chris has worked as a certified field engineer and Java Enterprise developer. He lives in Minnesota with his family and enjoys the outdoors.