Online cyber security degrees may be offered from a criminal justice background or a computer science/information technology background. From an IT background, these degrees equip students with key skills in configuring operating systems and databases in a way that protects them from internal and external threats, installing protective software, limiting systems and data access only to personnel who need it, and developing cyber security policies and guidelines to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks.
Within a criminal justice framework, online cyber security degrees center on Internet fraud and cyber crimes such as identity theft, cyber stalking and threats through email or social networks, and child pornography shared on peer-to-peer networks. These programs tend to emphasize best practices in investigating such crimes, detecting them, and responding to them. Students gain digital forensic skills, such as the ability to recover, extract, and analyze potentially incriminating data on digital devices.
Courses in a cyber security program might address the criminalistics of cyber crime, information and network security, security architecture, risk management and intrusion detection, and formulating cyber security policy. Advanced concepts in cyber security might include cyber intelligence and counterintelligence, use of the Internet by international and domestic terrorist and extremist groups, and the vital role cyber security plays in national security.
While education requirements vary for careers in cyber security, graduates of such programs may be able to obtain jobs in digital crimes divisions of police departments or work in an IT security or cyber threat analysis role for private businesses. Relevant career skills in demand by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security include digital forensics, cyber incident response, assessment of cyber risk and strategic analysis, networks and systems engineering, and more.