Equifax, Yahoo, the National Security Agency, Verizon, the U.S. Department of Defense, Home Depot, Target, Edmodo, VeriFone, eBay, TJX Companies, Uber, JP Morgan Chase, Sony PlayStation, Jimmy Johns — what do these companies and organizations, along with countless others, have in common? They have all been the victim of at least one devastating cyberattack.
Attackers take action for a variety of reasons, including political, economic, and sociocultural motives. Often they act out of just plain meanness. Whatever drives them, they all contribute to the 21st-century battle for digital information. As headlines have proclaimed during the past year, it’s an ongoing battle with no end in sight.
In January, I was at a conference and spoke with a representative of one of the nation’s 10 largest school districts. This individual told me how difficult it was keeping up with the number of attempts to hack the school network. These attacks can come from everywhere for surprising reasons.
For example, if you’re a student, and you’re not ready to take that online assessment happening today, $10 bucks can get you out of the test. For a mere one-thousand pennies, you can pay someone in a remote location to instigate a DDoS attack. All you need to get out of the test that day is a crisp Hamilton and the address of the website you want jammed.
At another conference I learned about the need of dentists to add an IT professional to their staff. Why, you might ask, other than perhaps to set up their network and systems? Better security is the answer. Dentists need to protect all of their medical records, billing information, and other private records from hackers looking to sell patient information.
The National Institute for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) estimates that there will be a deficit of between 2 and 3 million cybersecurity professionals by 2020. That covers a wide range of job roles, and a lot of the actual positions have yet to be created. Fortunately, industry is beginning to realize the need. All it takes is one breach into a company’s database to experience a staggering financial cost for rehabilitation, as well as the burden that comes with a loss of reputation.
Most experts agree: The question is not whether your company will be hacked, but when. Cybercrimes already cost the global economy more than $450 billion a year. Clearly, our modern world needs more cybersecurity professionals, and we need them yesterday.
So, if you are looking for a career path with much higher-than-average pay and job security, then look no further than the cybersecurity field. Look at the recent IT certification Salary Survey from Certification Magazine to see the potential earning power available to those who get certified and pursue a career in cybersecurity.
With the Internet of Things (IoT) continuing to expand, the demand for skilled professionals to protect networks and infrastructure will grow at an exponential rate. No matter what field you’re in, it is time to learn more about IT security and be prepared for the eventual attacks. Remember, the question is not whether potential employers will be hacked, but when the hack will happen
About the Author — Travis Wilde is the Southeast U.S. High School Account Manager for TestOut Corporation. He is a graduate of Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University. When not helping IT instructors, he loves spending time with his amazing wife, Sally, and their five children. Travis enjoys most everything his children do: baseball, Irish dancing, tennis, and flag football. When he has a minute for himself, he enjoys getting lost in a good book, cooking, or skiing. One of his most prized accomplishments is teaching his children to love winter sports — boys ski and girls snowboard!