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"Degrees & Programs"

Cybersecurity certificates help workforce stay ahead of an ever-changing threat landscape

By Stephanie Benoit-Kurtz
October 13, 2020 • 3 minute read

In the world of cybersecurity, it’s nearly impossible to identify the next threat or when it will hit. What is certain is that the risks are real and are constantly increasing.

The need for added security has only increased under the constraints of organizations operating during the pandemic. As a large percentage of the workforce has moved to remote work-from-home, there has been an unprecedented use of mobile and personal devices, extending the need for network security beyond the walls of organizations. The changes extend beyond the workforce, with more end users engaging with organizations through mobile apps and digital wallets.

As technology use grows, more and more data is collected and at risk of becoming a target. The rapid changes necessitated by the pandemic have led many organizations to change their security protocols, which has resulted in new opportunities for bad actors to gain access to their networks. Workers are now pushing and pulling organizational data, potentially with limited and possibly inadequate security.

The threat landscape is changing so quickly that the industry is girding itself by making the call for skilled professionals to continually upskill, train to stay ahead of the breaches and protect the exponentially growing cache of vulnerable data.

This is evident across the industry as organizations continue to invest in cybersecurity despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Solutions and vulnerabilities are coming down the road faster than cybersecurity teams can keep up with. As organizations come to grips with the potential for gaps in their security posture, investments must be made to address the risks, and create controls to secure data.

Beyond the deployment of the operational component of monitoring, patching, optimizing and managing the assets, organizations will need to adopt a rigorous process to ensure that the security of these new and dynamic environments is adequately covered in a layered protection strategy.

A key component to any security program and strategy is the investment and development of a cybersecurity team. Organizations can offer development to employees through access to certification programs that focus on the necessary upskilling opportunities to remain relevant. This ensures ongoing training for the organization to stay on the cutting edge when it comes to combating cyber warfare and lets employees know the organization is invested in them as well. This helps companies avoid employee attrition to competing organizations by offering ongoing education as part of their job and ultimately saving on the cost of hiring new talent.

University of Phoenix is taking a holistic approach to development challenges in cybersecurity by creating certificate and industry certification training so that students can acquire experience and pursue industry certifications while completing a degree program.

The University is engaging with organizations like EC-Council, CompTIA, Amazon Web Services and others to meet periodically to review industry needs and trends, providing valuable insights that help us keep our programs relevant. For some courses, the University provides vouchers for industry certification exams to students who successfully complete specific courses.

The two most recent offerings available at University of Phoenix are the Certificate in Cybersecurity Network Forensics (CYNF) and Certificate in Cybersecurity Digital Forensics (CYDF), both of which align with EC-Council standards and certification exams.

Through the CYNF, students receive training in penetration testing methodologies with a focus on skill building, response handling and vulnerability analysis, as well as a hands-on capstone project conducting a pen-test through a cyber range. The CYDF is for students who want to gain knowledge related to proper protocols, policies and procedures for implementing an incident response plan after a digital forensics investigation, including participation in a full investigation.

What we know about the future of cybersecurity is that businesses need to have a security program and strategy in order to protect themselves, and cyber teams play a crucial role. Winging it is not good enough. There is no such thing as a 100% secure environment.

The question isn’t “if” a data breach will happen, but “when.” The cost of such a breach due to a gap in knowledge and development is much more expensive than creating a solid development plan and investing in the training of cyber teams.