Guide to a Cybersecurity Online MBA

cybersecurity

Much of the work that happens in today’s business world, occurs across the digital landscape. This means there is an ever-increasing requirement to keep data secure. An advanced degree like the Cybersecurity Online MBA is an excellent option for professionals focused on information systems security and business management. An Online MBA is an excellent choice as it provides students with solid business and managerial foundations that translate across industries and roles. An emphasis on cybersecurity puts learners in a high-demand field.

business office

The landscape of advanced business programs has significantly evolved since the advent of the Master’s of Business Administration program over a hundred years ago. The demand for skilled and knowledgeable leaders has skyrocketed, as has the need for this popular advanced degree in business training. Graduate students worldwide are constantly earning top on-campus and online MBA degrees to hone their leadership skills and solidify their opportunity to climb the organizational ladder quickly. For over a decade, this professional degree has grown in depth and breadth. 

What was once a basic business degree has transformed into a comprehensive program that encompasses specializations, majors, concentrations, and certificates covering specialized business topics and business sector/job specialties. Distance learners can currently pursue an Online MBA program with a specialized curriculum in fields like finance, marketing, international business, IT, entrepreneurship, human resources, supply chain management, and cybersecurity, with more options added every year. 

This guide explores the critical Cybersecurity Online MBA.

Cybersecurity Online MBA

A Cybersecurity Online MBA gives active business leaders the tools and knowledge necessary to build and oversee systems that keep information safe in today’s digital world. Unfortunately, cybersecurity continues to be a blind spot for many organizations to some degree. And as some major retailers and enterprises have discovered in recent years, lackluster security practices can have overwhelming consequences. Management with training in data protection is essential for the long-term success of an organization. A Cybersecurity Online MBA will prepare graduate students to manage the teams that handle and prevent security threats.

Coursework

Along with the standard MBA coursework that builds up your managerial skills, you can also expect to learn about current security solutions, analyzing trends, intelligence, and processes to anticipate and respond to cyber threats. Students will learn how to make recommendations to an organization based on a risk assessment while giving recommendations that reduce their vulnerability to cyberattacks.

Core coursework within a cybersecurity specialization can include cloud security, IT risk assessment, cybersecurity ethics, laws and regulations, and cybercrime and cyberterrorism. These elective courses are added to those focused on organizational behavior, business ethics, business communication, finance, marketing, and operations management that you can expect from an Online MBA program. Many MBA programs conclude with a capstone project designed to give business students hands-on experience in the field.

flexibility

Some potential business students are unaware that Cybersecurity Online MBA programs feature the same quality education as traditional, on-campus programs, but with the added benefit of flexibility and convenience. These distance degrees allow students to balance education, work, and family. Course schedules tend to be highly adaptable as many programs provide a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning. It is essential to note whether the degree you are interested in requires on-campus residencies or visits and, if it does, whether students can make that work for them or not. With modern online educational platforms, distance learning is more interactive and engaging than it ever has been. Also, as technological fluency is a hallmark of today’s business world, there is no better way to get up to speed than by pursuing an online MBA.

Careers

Job opportunities for professionals holding an MBA in cybersecurity are in virtually every industry, including finance, healthcare, government, and retail. While most cybersecurity functions are carried out behind a desk, there is also a fair amount of fieldwork depending upon a professional’s specific concentration. Careers in cybersecurity can include project managers, cybersecurity advisors, information security analysts, and cybersecurity engineers. This is a continually evolving field offering high pay. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s BLS, an information security analyst makes an average salary of over $100,000 annually.

Cybersecurity Field

Before We Go Further, Let’s Define and Understand What Cybersecurity Is

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting programs, systems, and networks from digital attacks. Cyberattacks are typically aimed at accessing, altering, or destroying sensitive information, extorting resources from users, and interrupting intended business processes.

Implementing practical cybersecurity functions is particularly challenging in today’s modern business world as there are more devices than ever, and attackers are becoming more innovative.

What is essential to know about cybersecurity?

A practical cybersecurity approach features multiple layers of protection distributed amongst the programs, computers, networks, and data one intends to secure. In any organization, the people, technology, and processes must all interlock to create an effective barrier from cyber-attacks. A comprehensive threat management system can automate integrations through security products and initiate key security operations functions like detection, investigation, and solution.

The Importance of People Within Cybersecurity

For any system to be effective, all users must understand and comply with an organization’s data security principles, including using strong passwords, being selective of attachments in email, and backing up all data.

The Importance of Processes Within Cybersecurity

All organizations must create a framework for how they deal with attempted and successful cyber-attacks. A well-respected framework can guide an organization by explaining how it can protect systems, identify threats, detect/respond to attacks, and repair itself after successful attacks. 

cybersecurity personnel

The Importance of Technology Within Cybersecurity

Technology is vital to giving individuals and organizations computer security tools to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. Three main sectors must be protected: endpoint devices, including routers, computers, smart devices, networks, and the cloud. Technologies used to protect these sectors include malware protection, next-generation firewalls, DNS filtering, antivirus software, and email security solutions.

Cybersecurity is More than Just Business

In today’s networked world, everyone benefits from effective cyber-defense programs. At the consumer level, a cybersecurity attack looks like anything from identity theft to extortion and fraud to the loss of valuable data like family photos. We all rely on critical infrastructures like hospitals, power plants, and financial service organizations. Securing these and other networks is essential to our society’s well-being.

Everyone benefits from cyberthreat researchers’ efforts, like the team of over 200 threat researchers at Talos, who monitor and investigate emerging threats and cyber-attacks. This team reveals new vulnerabilities, educates the public on the need for cybersecurity, and strengthens open-source tools. Its work helps to make the Internet safer for all users.

What Types of Cybersecurity Threats Exist?

Phishing

Phishing is the act of sending fraudulent emails that look like correspondence from reputable sources. Phishing aims to steal sensitive data like login credentials and credit card numbers. It is the most popular type of cyber-attack. Users can help protect themselves from this cyberattack through education and technology solutions that filter malicious emails.

Malware

Malware is software designed to help hackers gain unauthorized access or cause damage to an unknowing user’s computer. 

Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software designed to extort money from users by blocking access to files or a computer system until the ransom is satisfied. Victims who pay a ransom cannot guarantee that the vulnerable files will be recovered or the system restored.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is a tactic that adversaries utilize to trick users into revealing sensitive information. They may solicit monetary payments or gain access to confidential data. Social engineering can also be combined with any of the above threats to make victims more likely to trust a malicious source, click on links, or download malware.

What is the History of Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity’s story began in the 1970s when terms like logic bombs, ransomware, spyware, worms, and viruses did not exist. But today, the drastic rise of cybercrime has caused these words to find their way into daily news headlines. Since cybercrime is projected to cost trillions of dollars in the coming years, cybersecurity is now a priority for all organizations.

1970 computer

From Academic to Criminal

While most computers and the internet were still under development in the 1970s and 80s, computer security threats were easy to identify. Most of the threats were from malicious insiders with access to documents and files they weren’t supposed to view. Because of this, the security involving risk and compliance governance and computer security in software programs evolved separately.

Malware and network breaches existed then, yet they were primarily used for purposes outside of financial gain. For example, the Russians used them as a form of weapon. Similarly, German hacker Marcus Hoss hacked into an early internet gateway. Hoss used the gateway in Berkeley to connect to the Arpanet and then accessed 400 military computers, including the mainframes at the U.S. Pentagon. Hoss intended to acquire the information he would later sell to the Russian KGB. Astronomer Clifford Stoll, however, utilized honeypot systems to detect the trespass and foil the plan. This attack was notable as it was the first severe computer crime that employed virus intrusion outside of academic purposes.

In the 1970s, researcher Robert Thomas created a program capable of breaking into a network and leaving a trail. This expedition led to the first computer worm’s invention. The worm was named Creeper, and it was designed to move between Tenex terminals and print the message “I AM THE CREEPER: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.”

The 1980s – Here Come the Computer Worms

The first computer worm’s creation was a milestone for cybersecurity. Researchers can trace the first disastrous worm to Cornwell University’s Robert T. Morris. He was curious about the size of the internet, so he created a worm in the late 80s to measure it. The worm was created to infect UNIX systems and count the connections present on the web. Morris wrote a worm program that propagated across a set of networks, utilized a known vulnerability to infiltrate UNIX terminals, and replicated itself.

This was a mistake, and a programming error caused the worm to infect countless machines. After networks were clogged, connected systems crashed. The worm replicated to a point the internet slowed down to a crawl, leaving massive damage in its wake. This worm was the first to have received full media attention and was one of the first programs designed to exploit system vulnerabilities.

Morris was the first person to be charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. After being fined $10,000, he was sentenced to three years’ probation and dismissed from Cornwell. He would later become an MIT tenured professor. The crime led to the development of the US-CERT’s predecessor, the Computer Emergency Response Team.

The 1990s – The Age of Computer Viruses

Viruses such as “Melissa” and “I LOVE YOU” infected tens of millions of computers and caused a worldwide email systems failure. Most of the virus attacks were concerned with strategic objectives or financial gains. However, the period’s inadequate security solutions caused many unintended victims to be affected. The attacks became headlines in major news outlets worldwide.

Almost overnight, cyber-attacks and threats were a concern that needed an immediate solution. This issue birthed antivirus software solutions. These programs were designed to detect viruses and prevent them from accomplishing their intended goals. At the time, the primary delivery method for many viruses was malicious email attachments. The virus attacks resulted in increased awareness, especially with opening email messages originating from unknown sources.

The Antivirus Industry Hits the Scene

code

The early 1990s saw a sharp rise in organizations designing and selling antivirus products. The products scanned computer systems looking for viruses and worms. Also, at this time, antivirus solutions reviewed business IT systems and ran them against signatures written in a database. While the signatures started as file computed hashes, they later included strings like those found in malware.

However, two significant issues created an impact on the effectiveness of those early antivirus solutions. The problems that persist today in current cybersecurity solutions include the extensive use of resources and many false positives. The former caused the most issues for users as antivirus solutions use a lot of the available resources while scanning, interrupting user activities and productivity.

During this period, malware samples produced increased in size and scope. While only a few thousand malware samples existed in the 90s, that number grew to at least five million by 2007. As a result, antivirus solutions could not handle the capacity as security professionals struggled to write signatures that would keep up. The issue called for a new approach that would better protect all systems.

Endpoint protection platforms proved to be better security solutions for countering virus attacks and other related malware. Instead of depending on static signatures to detect viruses, researchers utilized signatures to identify malware groups. Customers could now catch and control unknown malware as only a signature of existing malware was required.

Credit card hacks in the 2000s

Cyberattacks started being more targeted at the dawn of the millennium. One of the period’s most memorable attacks included the first reported case of serial data breaches that targeted credit cards. These crimes took place when Albert Gonzales created a cybercriminal ring for attacking credit card systems between 2005 and 2007. Gonzales’ group successfully stole confidential information from over 45 million cards that belonged to customers shopping at TJX retailers.

Tomorrow’s Cybersecurity

Understanding cybersecurity’s history gives us an overview of its evolution from simple academic research and experiments. Today’s cybersecurity efforts attempt to stop devastating attacks. Statistics indicate cybersecurity prevalence will continue to grow. There is no doubt that cybercriminals will keep using innovative strategies to execute stealth attacks by manipulating and exploiting emerging technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

If recent cyberattacks have taught us anything, it is that attackers can compromise recognized security efforts like two-factor authentication—attacks like that show that we still have much work to do before becoming ultimately cyber secure. Security companies and organizations must rethink their understanding of and approaches towards cybersecurity.

Future cybersecurity must be led by researchers and security experts who can direct their efforts to leverage emerging technologies’ innovations. They will be successful if they can reduce cyber-attacks and minimize their effects when they occur.

Currently, artificial intelligence is integrated into firewall and antivirus solutions to achieve quicker detection and response capability. Moreover, since all firms have automated most processes, cyberattacks are now concerned with upending system security. The intent is to keep them from performing normal operations by stealing critical data or locking access to system users.

How Can I Choose the Right Cybersecurity Online MBA?

signpost

Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing business field, and many universities and colleges are beginning to integrate the topic into their program offerings. An Online MBA in cybersecurity is beneficial to actively working professionals as it offers a unique blend of business foundational and specific technical training. Graduates of well-respected programs are propped up to compete for top roles in the local, state, and federal government agencies and corporate, private, and non-profit organizations. 

To find a top Cybersecurity Online MBA, you will want to compare programs‘ pricing, format, prestige, and accreditations. Many of the nation’s best programs offer additional certification options within their curriculum. Getting certified as a Certified Information Security Manager, Certified Information Privacy Professional, and a GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst are just a few ways to stand out when it’s time to interview with potential employers. When discovering the right fit within an online Cybersecurity MBA, look for a program with the most value. Factors like affordability, class quality, and support services are just some of the factors that affect value.

How Do I Apply for a Cybersecurity Online MBA?

1. Find the Right Business School and Program

Start by performing some online searches and investigate business schools‘ program descriptions. Make sure that a program’s specialization in cybersecurity sounds like one that will place you in a position of success in the future.  

2. Begin the Admissions Process

Most admissions systems are carried out and maintained online. Most business schools employ admissions experts who can answer all your questions and get you the necessary resources to fulfill acceptance requirements.

3. Compile Your Materials

Admissions components will most likely include a completed application and fee, transcripts, letters of recommendation, placement tests or waivers, and letters of intent. These materials need to be gathered months before a program’s start date.

4. Review Deadlines

It is essential to know what you must gather before being accepted to business school and when items are expected for submission. Make a spreadsheet for each program you are interested in and include deadlines.

5. Write Your Essay

An essay is one of the first and most important ways business school admissions representatives will hear from a program candidate and what she values. Take time writing your essays and make sure to have them proofread by someone you trust. 

Tips on How to Succeed Within a Cybersecurity Online MBA

-Be Yourself

Once you have been accepted into the Online MBA program of your dreams, it is time to grow and be stretched by the educational process. Since you didn’t need to falsely represent yourself during the admissions process, keep to the tactic by being yourself throughout the program. This is a great way to keep from burning any energy you don’t have. 

-Play the MBA “Card”

Becoming an MBA student tells the world that you are driven to become a leader in business management. Make sure to take the opportunity to request interviews with established business people so you can learn from them and grow your network. The MBA “card” can open doors for you.

-Narrow Your Focus

Remember why you pursued business school. Allow yourself time to focus on what you want by narrowing your options. Make a more targeted list of organizations and companies to apply to once you graduate. Many MBA students get pulled in different directions by a broad educational style. Dig deep into the activities you participate in and make sure to build strong relationships along the way.

checklist

Action Plans

Step One: Reach Out

Now that you’ve read this Guide to a Cybersecurity Online MBA, it is time to find out more about what the program has to offer. Reach out to professionals you know who have earned an MBA. Discover what the program is really about. Ask questions that help you see yourself within a program.  

Step Two: Reach-In

Make sure to take an inventory of your thoughts, motivations, resources, and energy when considering an MBA. This business degree offers a lot, but it also requires much of its students. Are you ready to invest time, energy, and money into an advanced business degree?

Step Three: Repeat

You will always need to reach out to others and draw into yourself while pursuing an Online MBA. There will be times that you feel uncertain and even confused. Take those times to ask for help and center yourself internally to make it through the difficult days. An MBA is as incredibly rewarding as it is challenging. Remember that even momentary setbacks are filled with teachable moments.

Related Resources:

Top Online Healthcare MBA Programs