Is cybersecurity a good career?

The data is clear: the need for cybersecurity professionals is only growing. Cybercrime is a pervasive threat, as evidenced by daily reports of cyberattacks. In 2021, the Kaseya supply chain ransomware attack affected more than 1,500 companies worldwide. Just a few months later, a group of hackers infected a major US oil pipeline operator with ransomware. This forced the shutdown of the pipeline and led to major fuel shortages.

All over the world, malicious hackers are causing problems for millions of people. CU Denver recognizes this problem and the acute need for cybersecurity professionals in today’s workforce. Between 2013 and 2021, vacancies for cybersecurity positions have increased by 350%. Data shows that only 68% of cybersecurity job openings nationwide are filled. In Colorado, 30% of cybersecurity positions remain vacant. To bridge the gap, CU Denver offers a range of undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as cutting-edge research.

…Focusing on a difficult area like cybersecurity… gives you an edge. Because, as I said, few people would dare to enter this field. So if you come in and perform well, you’re going to shine and you’re going to be eyeing very high salaries immediately.

—Haadi Jafarian, PhD

What is Cybersecurity?


As cyber threats evolve, so does cybersecurity. At its core, cybersecurity protects systems connected to the Internet against cyberattacks. Cybersecurity professionals spend their time defending hardware, software, and data from threats. Various types of malware, phishing, Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks and denial of service (DDoS) attacks are the most common forms of threat. A good security infrastructure can go a long way in preventing attacks, sparing organizations the financial (theft of intellectual property), reputational (loss of consumer trust), and legislative (government regulation) costs of cyberattacks.

Cybersecurity Careers


While the lure of stopping cybercrime may be enough for some, there are plenty of other benefits. Nationally, cybersecurity salaries average $102,600. In Colorado, salaries range between $100,580 and $112,360. Cybersecurity professionals will also find impressive job security in the industry. The cybersecurity unemployment rate has been 0% since 2016. The most common cybersecurity job vacancies are:

Cybersecurity analyst – Average salary: $107,500

Cybersecurity analysts are responsible for identifying threats and managing security systems. Responsibilities include installing/updating software and firewalls, testing for vulnerabilities and reporting breaches.

Software Developer/Engineer—Average salary: $110,140

This role develops programs to protect networked systems, IoT devices, etc. They combine technical programming knowledge with security threat analysis.

Cybersecurity consultant – Average salary: $92,504

A cybersecurity consultant works with a variety of organizational personnel to reduce risk. They administer system vulnerability testing, design security architectures, and update security systems.

Vulnerability analyst/penetration tester—Average salary: $101,091

Known as feather testers, these cybersecurity professionals are white hat hackers. They target operating systems, user devices, and embedded systems to find vulnerabilities. This helps organizations identify major system issues in a safe environment.

Cybersecurity manager/administrator — Average salary: $130,000

The cybersecurity administrator is the leader of the cybersecurity team. They work to protect an organization’s systems as a whole. Cybersecurity administrators identify security vulnerabilities within systems. They install, supervise and then maintain the solutions.

CU Denver Cybersecurity Program


CU Denver understands the critical role cybersecurity plays in today’s world. For students interested in this career path, CU Denver offers a BS in Cyber ​​Security and an Undergraduate Certificate in Cyber ​​Security and Secure Computing.

This course focuses on computer theory and basic cybersecurity concepts. Students will take basic computer science courses like logic design and algorithms. Students will also take a range of cybersecurity courses. The program includes hands-on courses in system administration, cryptography, and infrastructure defense.

… I think if you want to choose expertise in IT, or IT in general, I think you have to put cybersecurity first.

—Haadi Jafarian, PhD

CU Denver Cybersecurity Research


CU Denver is also home to the Active Cyber ​​Infrastructure Defense Lab (ACID Lab), which focuses on cyber defense and infrastructure defense. For those interested, the ACID lab can provide GAANN funding to domestic PhD students for up to three years. Led by Haadi Jafarian, PhD, ACID Lab research revolves around four key areas:

  • Social Media Cybersecurity Analytics: This area of ​​study develops more secure social networks through the analysis of big data.
  • Proactive security against cyber threats (mobile target defense and cyber deception): In the past, cybersecurity policies were only engaged once an attack occurred. Proactive security aims to prevent attacks before they begin.
  • Big Data Analytics for Cyber ​​Threat Intelligence: Mining massive datasets for analytical insights helps protect against cybersecurity threats.
  • Security of cyber-physical systems and critical infrastructures: The growth of IoT devices is blurring the line between physical security and cybersecurity. This area of ​​study focuses on the security of systems and users throughout this growth.
Dr. J. Haadi Jafarian

dr. J. Haadi Jafarian

Dr. Jafarian received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2017 and is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at CU Denver. He also directs the Active Cyber ​​and Infrastructure Lab (ACID Lab), where he studies various security and privacy topics such as active cyber defense, security analytics, automation, security and intelligence. social media analytics and big data analytics for security and privacy.

Learn more about how to apply for CU Denver’s cybersecurity degree and how you can build your career in this high-demand industry today.

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