Network Security for Beginners: What It Is, Job Outlooks

Network security is all about safeguarding computer networks against breaches and threats.

The idea is to keep unauthorized users from wreaking havoc on a business’s networks and the devices linked to them.

That’s a critically important function in today’s world. A secure network is fundamental to the operation of most modern organizations, including banks, insurance companies, retailers, educational institutions, healthcare facilities, and government agencies.

But before you can decide whether to pursue a career in network security, you need some more details about the field.

In this post, we explain what network security encompasses, how it’s in demand, what salaries are like, and how beginners can get started.

Here’s what you need to know.

WHAT DOES NETWORK SECURITY INVOLVE?

Network security is a subset of the broader field of cybersecurity. It focuses on protecting shared data and making sure networks remain available to legitimate users only.

Professionals in this field are guided by three core principles: confidentiality, integrity, and availability (known as the CIA triad).

☑️ Confidentiality is about keeping information private. You need to have measures in place to control who sees data sent over the network.

There are two sides to this: Authorized users must have the appropriate access privileges, and unauthorized users should be blocked from obtaining access.

☑️ Integrity refers to making sure data is authentic and has not been tampered with. You want to ensure that your data can’t be altered or deleted by an unauthorized person.

☑️Availability means keeping the network working as it should so that users can access the data they need in a timely manner.

Availability can be threatened by things like a Denial-of-Service (DoS) attack, when a perpetrator tries to overwhelm and crash a network by flooding it with traffic.

 

WHAT DO NETWORK SECURITY SPECIALISTS DO?

A network security analyst concentrates on guarding network systems and devices against attacks.

Their job is to look for (and deal with) both suspicious activity and system vulnerabilities.

To accomplish this, network security pros use a variety of tools and techniques. These include:

☑️ Antivirus software—Programs that scan network devices to identify and eradicate viruses, worms, and other malware

☑️ Firewalls—Devices that look at incoming network traffic and block or grant access based on established security rules

☑️ Network segmentation—The practice of dividing a large network into smaller units to limit the spread of any attacks or breaches

☑️ Encryption—The act of scrambling data either in storage or in transit so that it can only be read by authorized users with a decryption key

☑️ Multi-factor authentication—Verifying a user’s identity at login by requiring more than one form of proof, such as a password plus a code sent to their phone

☑️ Intrusion prevention systems—Systems that analyze network traffic and take action to block traffic they deem dangerous

☑️ Virtual private network (VPN)—A protected channel between a device and a network that helps ensure data remains secure during transit

 

ARE NETWORK SECURITY SPECIALISTS IN DEMAND?

You bet they are.

Companies have always been concerned about maintaining the security of their networks. But the issue has grown even more urgent since COVID-19 brought on a huge shift to remote work and online services.

The number of reported data breaches has grown rapidly in recent years, but pandemic-ravaged 2020 saw a massive increase. Get this: more records were compromised that year than in the previous 15 years put together.

Looking ahead, the Government of Canada Job Bank forecasts strong demand for systems security analysts in many parts of the country, including BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and most of Atlantic Canada.

The bottom line: Organizations will continue to need more skilled pros who can shore up network defenses and take action against threats.

 

WHAT ARE SALARIES LIKE IN NETWORK SECURITY?

According to PayScale, network security analysts in Canada make anywhere between $50,000 at the low end to more than $100,000 for the top earners.

The median salary is around $69,000.

 

HOW CAN YOU GET STARTED IN NETWORK SECURITY?

You don’t necessarily need a computer science degree. Many employers welcome candidates with a diploma in computer networking.

That can save you considerable time. While a bachelor’s degree takes four years of study, college-level network security programs can be completed in just 12 months.

A good program will cover topics such as:

☑️ The fundamentals of networking

☑️ Web server security

☑️ Wireless security

☑️ Network installations and upgrades

☑️ Remote network access configuration

☑️ Disaster recovery procedures

☑️ Troubleshooting techniques

 

DO YOU NEED CERTIFICATIONS TO LAND YOUR FIRST JOB IN NETWORK SECURITY?

Entry-level certifications like Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and CompTIA Security+ can help you get noticed by an employer.

But those are generally considered assets rather than requirements, as computer networking expert Karnig Kazandjian points out.

“Employers who offer entry-level positions want candidates who have hands-on skills and the ability to learn new technologies.

Certification will be more relevant to graduates after they acquire some experience in the field. At that point, certification combined with work experience would be valuable in terms of pursuing a promotion or other employment opportunities.”

 

START BUILDING THE NETWORK SECURITY SKILLS YOU NEED TO GET HIRED

Eager to launch a career in network security without spending years in school first?

Have a look at the 12-month Computer Networking Technology diploma at Herzing College Ottawa.

The program provides comprehensive training in network security, setup, maintenance, and troubleshooting. It also includes preparation for several leading networking certifications.

Click below to get complete details on the program and chat live with an Admissions Advisor who can answer any questions you may have. We’re here to help!

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