What Is Cybersecurity? Quick Guide for New Students

Cybersecurity focuses on protecting information systems and electronic devices against malicious digital attacks.

If you’ve ever had your email or social media accounts hacked, you’ve seen what happens when cybersecurity measures fall short.

And attacks on major companies are constantly in the news. Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Uber are just a few of the big names that have had their systems compromised in recent years.

So you’re probably aware that cybersecurity is a hot field. But before you make it the focus of your career, you need some more information.

In this post, we explain exactly what the cybersecurity field involves, what job options it offers, and how you can get started in the industry.

Here are the facts you need.



Cybersecurity is a branch of IT that revolves around safeguarding digital data and systems.

Professionals in this field seek to prevent or mitigate breaches that could lead to the exposure of sensitive information or the interruption of business activities.

Cybersecurity encompasses several different areas, such as:

☑️ Network security—Protecting both wired and wireless computer networks using firewalls and other measures


☑️ Application security—Developing secure software by looking at how users are authenticated and how data is handled


☑️ Cloud security—Keeping cloud-based data safe while it’s being used, stored, or transmitted


☑️ Disaster recovery—Creating and implementing procedures for restoring normal business operations after power outages, data breaches, or other disruptions


☑️ User training—Teaching end users about good security practices, such as choosing strong, unique passwords and not clicking on links in unsolicited emails



There are a few different entry-level job options in this field, as cybersecurity expert Derek Lewis points out.

“You could start out as a help desk cybersecurity first responder. This involves taking calls from organizations who are reporting potential hacks and helping them work through first steps to confirm and address those breaches.

Another option is assisting senior penetration testers. This would involve tasks like social engineering information gathering.

For example, you would scour company and employee information to see what is public and available online and develop profiles like hackers would, to manipulate end users and gain access to the company’s systems.

Then you would present that information to the users to show them how vulnerable they are, and explain steps and procedures to improve cybersecurity.”



Definitely! With more people using digital systems for everything from working and shopping to banking and consulting with their doctors, there’s growing demand for people with the skills to keep sensitive data safe.

And there simply aren’t enough people with those skills. Some experts estimate that the world will have a shortage of more than 1.8 million cybersecurity professionals by 2022.

According to TECHNATION, there are currently more than 6,000 vacant cybersecurity jobs across Canada. Close to 2,000 of them are in Toronto alone.

Derek says the field has matured and will continue to generate opportunities.

“The cybersecurity field has grown into its own specialty and discipline. Companies didn’t used to hire dedicated cyber specialists, but now it’s become a skillset unto itself.

That’s partly because of the massive growth in mobile devices. Fifteen years ago, we did everything from our desktop. Now we all have several mobile devices.

So there are many more opportunities for hackers, and not enough trained cyber professionals to keep up with those threats.”



It’s a bit tough to pin down an average cybersecurity salary.

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, beginner-level systems security analysts can expect to make about $50,000.

PayScale says the average entry-level salary for information security specialists in Canada is closer to $58,000.

Both sources peg the overall median salary at about $82,000.

And both say the most talented and experienced cybersecurity pros make well over $100,000.



A degree is not necessarily required. Demand is so high in this field that many employers are open to taking on candidates with cybersecurity diplomas.

Certifications and practical experience are also important. In a recent survey of cybersecurity professionals, earning a basic certification and completing an internship were among the top tips for beginners trying to break into the industry.

So be sure to look for cybersecurity training that includes an internship and preparation for key industry certifications.



A short program at the college level can help you learn the cybersecurity skills you need to get hired.

Check out the accelerated 12-month Cybersecurity program at Herzing College. It's offered at our campuses in Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, and online.

Students get thorough training in IT security best practices and gain real-world experience through an included 5-week internship.

The program also prepares students for leading cybersecurity certifications like Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Click below to get further program details and chat live with an Admissions Advisor. We’re here to help!

Explore the Cybersecurity Diploma Program

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