Careers That Change The World: Cyber Security Published February 26, 2016

Cyber Security

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security involves processes and practices intended to prevent unauthorized users from breaking into computer systems and networks to gain classified information or private data. Cyber security professionals can work for agencies like the National Security Agency, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, protecting the security of individuals, families, and our nation by handling threats and breaches of computer network security.

Digital Warfare

Unfortunately, cyber security threats have become a form of modern warfare in today’s digital age. Under the surface of what can be publically seen and searched on the top level of the Internet, the ‘Deep Web’ includes the immense number of sites untraceable by search engines, such as user databases, password-encrypted forums, and pages behind paywalls. This is where most cybercrime occurs. 

Identify theft commonly comes to mind first when we think of cybercrime. Today’s data breach threats extend far beyond that scope to include not only financial, tax, and medical record fraud; but also stalking, hacking, intellectual property crime, corporate data breaches, malware, and spread of false information. A 2014 independent study by the Ponemon Institute concluded that 43% of American companies had been affected by data breaches in the preceding year, including popular retailers like Target, Home Depot, Ebay, UPS, and JPMorgan. Hackers stole passwords, email addresses, credit card numbers, private internal documents, and more. 

As large and small businesses alike begin to fight back on cybercrime, the cyber security career field is growing exponentially. Cyber security students can pursue futures as Security Analysts, Network Engineers, Forensics Experts, Computer Crime Investigators, Cryptanalysts, Incident Responders, and more. Over 50,000 information security job openings in both the public and private sectors exist today, and the Bureau of Labor projects cyber security jobs to grow at a rate of 37% through 2022, citing an average salary for cyber security professionals of $116,000. The potential for high pay and job security in this field is not diminishing any time soon. 

Cyber Security at Rose State

Rose State has been progressively setting the bar when it comes to cyber security education. Our college’s Cyber Security program began in 2004 as one of the first of its kind in the nation, with 75 students enrolled the first year. Over the last decade, the program has more than doubled in size with 200 declared Cyber Security majors as we continue to see solid positive growth. 

The National Science Foundation recently awarded RSC’s Cyber Security program a generous grant that pays tuition, fees, and stipends to qualifying students. This is the program’s second grant and directors are currently applying for a third to keep these benefits in place. 

In addition, Rose State College is the ONLY two-year program in the entire country offering all six levels of federal cyber security certification. Rose State holds the National Security Agency’s “Center of Academic Excellence at 2 Year Education” (CAE2Y) designation in Cyber Security Education, which was recently renewed through 2020. 

In addition, Rose State offers an Information Security certificate program to prepare graduates for federal-level careers in Systems Security, Risk Analysis, and more.

Do I Need a Background in Computers?

A technological background is helpful but not required for application to the Cyber Security program, as students can learn the necessary skills within their classes. “The best students are familiar with computers, but we have had some with no experience do just fine,” says Ken Dewey, Rose State Cyber Security Program Director and Professor. Rose State considers students from all technical backgrounds for this program. One student started her career in cosmetology before applying to the program. According to Dewey, “She did exceptionally well, then went on to get her Bachelor’s and is currently working at the FAA as an auditor. Our program starts with the basics so students without any background in this field can excel.” 

Completing a Bachelor’s Degree

Many Rose State Cyber Security graduates go on to complete advanced degrees in this field. Our program transfers 100% to Oklahoma State University’s Institute of Technology, where in just 18 months, RSC graduates can earn a Bachelor’s in Technology in the areas of Information Assurance, Software Development, Enterprise Management, and others. Several students choose to further their education at theUniversity of Tulsa’s Cyber Corps, which prepares graduates with the credentials for a career with intelligence agencies. We have also had students transfer to UCO to complete 4-year degrees in Management Information Systems and Computer Science. While OSU-IT does accept the most transfer credits, Rose State’s program is fully accredited and can transfer to any 4-year university.

Thoughts from a Rose State Cyber Security Student

David Magar is the Student Senate President at Rose State and is finishing up his time in the Cyber Security program. Initially drawn to Rose State because of its inviting campus and convenient location, the Cyber Security program was the logical choice for someone who’d grown up with an interest in technology and knew he wanted to pursue a career in the computer science field. “The amount of care that the faculty takes with their students,” David says, was a huge factor in choosing Rose State.

David appreciates the challenging aspects of Rose State’s Cyber Security program and the classes that put his knowledge to the test. “I have had multiple assignments that have kept me up in to the late hours of the night as I tried to scour the internet for more clues on how to solve a particularly challenging assignment. Some classes in college are easy; I prefer the ones that make you work to accomplish the end goal.” 

Rose State’s program encourages students to push through challenges to achieve outcomes they once thought impossible. David recalls a particularly challenging assignment given to his small group. “Our professor wanted us to program a working rocket defense game for our final project. I spent hours and hours on this assignment. It was one of the first things in life that I could not accomplish, and it drove me crazy. He really just wanted to see how far we could get. This assignment helped me realize that I shouldn't expect myself to be able to do everything, but with hard work and enough time, I am capable of much more than I think I am.”

After graduating from Rose State, David plans to continue his education at OSU IT. “I plan to get my bachelor’s degree there, and if everything falls into place, I may pursue an opportunity to get my master’s from Tulsa University through a grant opportunity.” David hopes to one day own his own business specializing in “white hat” hacking, which seeks to reverse the damage done by cyber criminals.

Changing the World with Cyber Security

A career in this field can change the world by preventing identity theft, data breaches, and even national security threats. Rose State Cyber Security students graduate with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills required to make a difference in significant ways. Visit the Rose State Cyber Security page to learn more.