What is Computer Information Systems Security?
Today our world relies on the instantaneous transmission of data and information in order to complete myriad processes. The technological revolution of the past twenty-plus years has changed the world irrevocably. It’s made a lot of functions of our economy and day-to-day life much easier, or at least quicker and more direct. But it’s also put a lot of information in concentrated systems that can be accessed by cunning criminals, government agents, and even crafty children.
The professionals that help organizations protect their information work in information assurance, cybersecurity, or computer information systems security. Whatever you call it, it’s an extremely lucrative field that has a far greater demand for qualified professionals than the current supply of them. Here are some statistics about the current state of computer science and the computer information systems and security landscape:
- The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found employment in computer science and information technology will increase 13% from 2016 to 2026, which translates to over half a million new jobs.
- In some subsections of computer science like cybersecurity, computer information systems, and security, as well as information assurance, there’s an anticipated shortfall of millions of jobs in the coming years.
- Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 37% from 2012 to 2022.
- Cybercriminals are stealing $250 billion in intellectual property each year, including weapons designs, source code, trade secrets, and internal communications.
- In 2014, the World Economic Forum noted that 2.5 billion records had been exposed in the previous five years due to cyber attacks. Since then the issue has grown exponentially.
- A recent report by Cybersecurity Ventures found that by 2021 cyber crimes could cost the world $6 trillion.
- In 2017, the Equifax cyberattack compromised 143 million Americans’ data, and the Identity Theft Resource Center found that hundreds of millions of records were sold on the black market. It’s also been noted that the attack was completely preventable if appropriate cybersecurity measures had been taken.
- Last year Facebook was hacked which compromised 50 million users’ data and information.
- There will be approximately 1.5 million unfilled cybersecurity/information assurance positions by 2020.
- According to a recent CNBC report, the average annual salary for a cybersecurity professional with a Bachelor’s degree is $116,000, and almost twice that for people holding a Master’s degree.
Here at Online College Plan, we’ve done significant work to help you in your search for a career or degree in computer information systems and computer information security. Some of the work we’ve produced includes:
30 Best Computer Science Schools with Online Degree Programs
Top 5 Online Colleges with the Best PhD in Computer Science
A College Student’s Guide to Online Cybersecurity
Top Online PhD Programs in Computer & Information Systems Security
Now let’s look at some of the intricacies of computer information systems, security, computer science, information technology, and more:
What is Computer Information Systems vs Computer Science?
Computer Information Systems is part of Computer Science, but professionals and students in the two areas focus on different aspects of computing. In Computer Information Systems, students will focus on the practical applications of computer technology including software design, cybersecurity, communications, business, computer systems project management, and economics. Essentially Computer Information Systems professionals look at how technology impacts business, and work in the intersection of the two. It’s a more macro, applied, empirical area of computer science.
Computer Science students and professionals study the theory and math behind computing. A computer science education and career are for people who want to learn the ins and outs of programming, ranging from databases to coding. Computer science students study algorithms, software architecture, write code, design patterns, and deal with data structures.
To summarize, computer science deals with the development and design of software, especially software that lets devices operate. In computer science programs you’ll learn to write programs, work on operating systems and computer architectures. Computer Information Systems students and professionals look at the relationship between businesses and other organizations and the information systems that power them, with the goal of streamlining that relationship and making it as fruitful and effective as they can.
There are also other fundamental differences within the field that separate working with systems as opposed to broader concepts in computer science and information technology. Let’s take a look at another one:
What is Information Technology vs Information Systems?
Information technology and information systems are often seen as the same thing, but this is not the case. In reality, information technology is part of information systems. If you want a career in technology, you need to know the difference.
Information systems encompass all of the systems, people and processes that are built or assembled to create, hold, manipulate, and distribute information. It’s the connection between business and computer science, however, an information system doesn’t even necessarily involve technology at all. As long as instruments are used to record and convey information, they can be considered an information system, even if they’re just chalk and blackboard, or a painted billboard. Thus, an information systems definition doesn’t require information technology per se.
Today information systems more often refer to technological systems like databases or other networks. How these systems interact with the people they’re intended to serve is of paramount importance in the field.
When you study information systems, you’ll likely take classes like:
- Information Theory
- Foundations of Management
- Information Technology
- Social Science
On the other hand, information technology is anything related to the technology that systems which convey information used in order to serve their functions. IT involves anything related to the study, creation, installment, support, and management of information systems that make use of computers.
People who work in it have knowledge of hardware, software, databases, networks, and more. They understand and work with the compiling, processing, storing, and distribution of digital information and data, wherever that information/data is stored and shared with computer and telecommunications.
Information technology workers manage the technology that accomplishes these goals, improve its efficiency and utility, and protect it from attacks.
Information technology can be defined as the study, design, implementation, support or management of computer-based information systems.
IT typically includes hardware, software, databases, and networks. Information technology often governs the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of digitized information, or data, generated through the disciplines of computing and telecommunications. Information technology focuses on managing technology and improving its utilization to advance the overall business goals.
When studying information technology, you’ll most likely take courses in areas like:
- Database Design
- Computer Science and Forensics
- Programming Languages
Both of these areas are growing rapidly, and are woefully undersupplied with qualified professionals in comparison with the demand from organizations across the entire economy. Which brings us to:
What Can I Do With a Computer Information Systems And Security Degree?
When you earn a Computer Information Systems and Security Degree, you’ll be prepared to do a number of jobs, but more importantly, you’ll gain skills and experience in a number of important areas that can lead to these positions. Marketable, transferrable, widely desired skills are the name of the game in this fragile, evolving economy, so let’s look at what you’ll gain from studying computer information systems and security:
- Computer Skills: Believe it or not, not everyone who enters programs in computer information systems and computer information security has the skills needed to be a professional in the field. While most have great computer and math backgrounds, these programs will much fully form students into hardened computer scientist warriors trained to do specific, indispensable tasks for important organizations.
- Analyze Critical Issues: A big part of working in computer information systems and security is recognizing when a system is flawed, or where it could easily be exploited. In these programs, you’ll learn to spot problems, how to fix or prevent them, and how to communicate your findings to peers and supervisors that may not necessarily have the technical background that you do.
- Organizational Skills: You’ll be dealing with complex problems, and you’ll need to have an advanced grasp on scheduling your time, prioritizing issues, and keeping all of your tasks in check.
- Work in a Specialty Area: Your computer information systems and security degree may prepare you to work in an area like robotics, numerical analysis, software and hardware, cybersecurity, and more. This will separate you from the competition for these positions in a niche area of your choosing.
Speaking of the competition for specific positions in computer information systems and security:
What Jobs Can I Get With a Degree in Computer Information Systems and Security?
When you’re studying computer information systems and security, you’re looking to get a top job in the industry. As we’ve mentioned, there are plenty available, but let’s delve into some of the more common and eagerly demanded ones:
- Cyber Security Engineer: In these roles, you’ll design computer systems that are ready to repel the attacks of cyber criminals, natural disasters, and other events that could harm or corrupt them. You’ll do a significant analysis of existing systems to probe for weak points, secure issues where you find them, and try to predict future disturbances and attacks and prevent those as well. These professionals are on the front line of cybercrime and often do an investigation into attacks as well. While working in this position you’ll be extremely desired by government agencies, large tech companies, and myriad other organizations. The average cyber security engineer salary is $34.54 per hour, or $92,405 annually, although many cybersecurity engineers make much more than that, and wages in the field, like unfilled positions, are expected to grow dramatically, especially for those with advanced degrees or significant experience.
- Network Administrator: Here you’ll be in charge of making sure an organization’s computer networks are operating as they’re supposed to, and they are cutting-edge in their design and production. Any organization that uses multiple computers, software platforms or other networks needs a network administrator to run, coordinate and connect them. The average network administrator salary was $77,810 in 2015, but once again, wages are much higher than that for elite network administrators, and increased demand for these professionals will only drive them up higher.
- Network Security Engineer: These jobs require protecting an organization’s networks and systems. You’ll plan and install security measures to protect networks and systems, and repel attacks, disasters, infiltration, theft, hacking, and more. You’ll often work in an IT department and consistently deal with management that may not have network security experience. The average network security engineer salary for entry-level positions in this field who have less than five years experience was $73,000 based on a survey of people in those roles.
- Database Administrator: In these roles, you’ll dream up, create and run databases that hold an organization’s information and assets. You’ll try to build layers of security into the database to promote confidentiality and protect vital information. You’ll often decide what information can be accessed internally by employees depending on their role within an organization. Generally, these roles require at least a bachelor’s degree. In 2010 the average database administrator salary was $73,490, which is also on the rise alongside the need for qualified database administrators.
- Penetration Tester: These roles are some of the most interesting within computer information security. Firms pay you to try to break into their clients’ systems to assess existing security and spot weaknesses within it. You get the thrill of being a cybercriminal without facing the legal consequences of actually violating the law, and while helping an organization better secure its systems and data. The average salary for a penetration tester ranges from $55,000 to over $100,000, and these roles are becoming increasingly more common as well. Certifications like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP, can equal more money in these roles as well.
Now let’s look at some of the organizations you can join to help network in the computer information systems and security field:
Are There Any Organizations or Associations I Can Join For Computer Information Systems and Security?
Information Systems Security Association (ISSA): ISSA is a community for international cybersecurity professionals focused on “advancing individual growth, managing technology risk and protecting critical information and infrastructure.” It offers educational forums, publications, and peer interaction opportunities to advance skills, knowledge and professional growth of members.
Association for Information Systems (AIS): It was formed in 1994 for academic educators, researchers and institutions focused on information systems (IS) “development, implementation, and evaluation.” It offers meetings, resources, conferences, career services, and an E-library to its members.
International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2: This consortium is a global, non-profit leader in education and certification of information security professionals as they go through their careers. They are known for their certifications and education programs.
Now that you know more about Computer Information Systems And Security, you’re ready to get started or continue your education and career in the field. To see all of our computer science and IT-related content, visit our guide to Online Computer Science and IT Degree Programs which has links to our rankings and FAQs on these topics.