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The number of attacks against private businesses and governments is now reaching fever pitch, with the total cost of cyber crime set to reach $2 trillion by 2019.

In the past, hackers have been able to exploit a lack of knowledge among companies’ IT departments around how to best combat these threats. That’s now changing.

Today’s schools, universities and government agencies are offering programs that will equip cyber security practitioners with the skills they need to protect businesses and governments against cyber attacks.

So why should you invest in a Master’s in Cyber Security, and could this be a hacker’s worst nightmare?

Combat Cyber Crime with Education

To a hacker, success means always being one step ahead of the game. They dedicate all their time and effort to identifying and attacking vulnerabilities in security systems; and the rising sophistication of individual and group hackers has paid off.

The U.S. government alone suffered more than 77,000 cyber incidents, like data thefts or other security breaches, in fiscal year 2015. In the same year,43 percent of cyber attacks were against small businesses with fewer than 250 workers.

It’s a problem that businesses and government agencies of all sizes face, and they’re fighting back through training and education.

Universities are offering increasingly advanced programs in cyber security, designed to educate students to become the next line of defense against cyber criminals. Cryptography, network infrastructure and other security defenses are now being taught to eager students who understand the cyber threats and tactics they face. Many degrees now offer specialized tracks or concentrations to allow students to develop fluency in a particular area of cyber expertise.

To a hacker, this is a nightmare – students learning skills that could shut them down. It gets worse for them, too: businesses are already developing the types of departments that these students can easily jump into after graduation.

Businesses are Creating Ready-made Job Openings

Back in the 1990s, the only groups capable of tracking hackers were military computer crime units. They had both the power and the skills necessary to stop any hacking attempts, but the private sector was mostly on its own.

Governments have spent years since then upgrading their efforts. Indeed, cyber warfare has become a major topic in this year’s presidential race. The U.S. government is hiring 6,500 new cyber security pros, with 3,000 hired so far and another 3,500 positions up for grabs by January 2017.

Businesses are also developing the types of procedures, techniques and departments they need to attract and retain the next generation of cyber security professionals.

Many of these efforts are being fueled by attacks themselves, with businesses eager to make sure they’re never exposed again.

PwC’s new Global State of Information Security Survey found that 59 percent of the 10,000 C-suite executives polled were investing more in cyber security, including data analytics, real-time monitoring, authentication tools that include biometrics, managed security services (MSS) and a range of new roles that focus on cyber security.

For instance, J.P. Morgan Chase is now spending half a billion dollars on cyber security, with thousands of employees dedicated to stopping attacks. Collectively, J.P. Morgan, Bank of America, Citibank and Wells Fargo are spending $1.5 billion to combat cyber crime.

All these changes, from big business investments to new government positions, mean that skilled, well-educated cyber security professionals are in huge demand, and hackers are in trouble.

Leading Universities in the Fight Against Cyber Crime

The bottom line is, more organizations are creating infrastructure to stop attacks, and they desperately need people with skills gathered in dedicated training courses and degrees – degrees that are now being offered by major universities.

For example, the University of Delaware offers an online Master’s of Science in Cybersecurity that allows students to focus on the engineering of secure software and systems, learning from active practitioners with strong corporate and military experience.

Additionally, Regis University offers a Master’s of Science in Information Assurance, which provides IT professionals with up-to-the-minute training on how to protect critical data from hackers and cyber attacks.

The free reign some hackers may have enjoyed is over. Advanced education, such as a Master’s in Cyber Security, is the new, vital defense against cyber crime.

Article Name
Combating Cyber Crime: Why You Need a Master's Degree
As we've all heard, knowledge is power. Savvy cyber security professionals are powering up with advanced degrees, such as a Master's in Cyber Security, to fight what the U.S. Department of Justice is calling "one of the greatest threats facing our country."