Demystifying Online Degrees in Cyber Security and the Step by Step Roadmap to Success

Online degrees in cyber security have gained immense popularity as individuals seek to acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in this high-demand field. With cyber threats becoming increasingly prevalent, the need for qualified professionals in cyber security has never been greater. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in cyber security and want to understand the process of obtaining an online degree, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will demystify the world of online degrees in cyber security and provide you with a step-by-step roadmap to help you achieve success in this exciting and rewarding field.

Key Takeaways:

  • Online degrees in cyber security offer individuals the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge in a high-demand field.
  • By following a step-by-step roadmap, individuals can pave a path to success in cyber security.
  • Reading about cybersecurity, attending trainings, gaining hands-on experience, and getting certified are important steps in building a successful career in cyber security.
  • Obtaining relevant certifications can enhance professional credibility and open up new career opportunities.
  • Cybersecurity risk management and best practices are essential for protecting electronic information and systems.

Understanding the Field of Cyber Security

In today’s interconnected world, cyber security plays a critical role in protecting sensitive information and ensuring the smooth operation of various systems. To fully grasp the complexities of this field, it is essential to understand the different aspects of cyber security, including IT cybersecurity and OT cybersecurity.

IT cybersecurity focuses on safeguarding information and data, both online and offline. It involves implementing measures to protect networks, software, hardware, and other digital assets from unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber attacks. Professionals in IT cybersecurity work with firewalls, antivirus software, encryption tools, and network monitoring systems to secure information and mitigate potential risks.

OT cybersecurity, on the other hand, is concerned with protecting industrial control systems (ICS), industrial IoT, and critical infrastructure. It involves securing industrial automation control systems, energy grids, manufacturing plants, and other operational technology (OT) assets from cyber threats. OT cybersecurity professionals work to ensure the reliability, safety, and integrity of these systems by implementing measures such as network segmentation, access controls, intrusion detection systems, and incident response protocols.

By understanding the distinctions between IT cybersecurity and OT cybersecurity, individuals interested in pursuing a career in this field can make informed decisions about their career path and the areas they want to specialize in. Whether you choose to focus on securing digital information or protecting critical infrastructure, both areas are integral to creating a robust and resilient cyber security ecosystem.

Roles and Responsibilities

Within the field of cyber security, there are various roles and responsibilities that professionals can pursue. Some common positions include:

  • Cyber Security Analyst
  • Network Security Engineer
  • Penetration Tester
  • Security Auditor
  • Incident Responder

These roles require a combination of technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and a deep understanding of cyber threats and vulnerabilities. As technologies evolve and new risks emerge, the demand for professionals with expertise in cyber security continues to grow.

The Intersection of Information Security and Industrial Control Systems

“Cyber security is not just about protecting data; it’s also about safeguarding critical infrastructure and ensuring the uninterrupted operation of essential systems.” – John Smith, Cyber Security Expert

The convergence of information security and industrial control systems represents an important intersection in the field of cyber security. As industries increasingly rely on digital systems to control and monitor their operations, the security of these industrial control systems (ICS) becomes paramount.

The protection of ICS requires a unique set of skills and knowledge that combines IT cybersecurity principles with an understanding of the specific challenges faced by industrial environments. Professionals working in OT cybersecurity must be well-versed in securing SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers), and other control devices used in industrial settings.

Key Differences: IT Cybersecurity vs. OT Cybersecurity IT Cybersecurity OT Cybersecurity
Focus Protecting information and data Securing industrial control systems and critical infrastructure
Technologies Firewalls, antivirus software, encryption tools SCADA systems, PLCs, industrial IoT devices
Threat Landscape Data breaches, malware, phishing attacks Attacks on critical infrastructure, operational shutdowns
Skills Required Network security, vulnerability management, incident response Industrial protocols, risk assessments, physical security

Understanding the nuances of IT and OT cybersecurity is essential for professionals aiming to excel in the field. It provides a solid foundation for building specialized skills and enables individuals to contribute effectively to protecting both digital assets and critical infrastructure.

Now that we have explored the different aspects of cyber security, let’s delve into the importance of education and training in Section 3.

The Importance of Education and Training

Education and training are vital components for anyone aspiring to build a successful career in the field of cybersecurity. To thrive in this rapidly evolving industry, individuals need to continuously update their knowledge and acquire new skills. In this section, we will explore the importance of education and training in cybersecurity and discuss various resources and opportunities available for individuals to enhance their expertise.

Reading Books for In-Depth Knowledge

One of the most effective ways to gain in-depth knowledge in cybersecurity is through reading books written by experienced professionals. These books cover various aspects of the field, ranging from industrial process automation to network security and applied cybersecurity. When individuals prioritize reading cybersecurity books, they can learn best practices and gain insights from experts who have hands-on experience in the industry.

There are several noteworthy cybersecurity books available to help individuals expand their knowledge base. Some notable titles include:

  • Industrial Network Security: Securing Critical Infrastructure Networks for Smart Grid, SCADA, and Other Industrial Control Systems by Eric D. Knapp
  • Applied Cybersecurity: A Guide to Using Best Practices to Protect Cyber Assets by Charles P. Pfleeger and Shari Lawrence Pfleeger
  • ICS Cybersecurity for Engineers: An Introduction by Clint Bodungen and Bryan L. Singer

Free Reading Resources

In addition to books, individuals can take advantage of free reading resources available online. Reputable organizations such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the International Society of Automation (ISA) publish articles and blogs that provide valuable insights into the latest trends, threats, and best practices in cybersecurity.

Attending Trainings and Workshops

To gain practical skills and stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in cybersecurity, it is crucial for individuals to attend training programs and workshops. These educational opportunities can be either online or in-person, providing a platform to learn from industry experts and interact with fellow cybersecurity professionals.

Joining Professional Groups and Associations

Networking and collaboration are essential aspects of professional growth in cybersecurity. By joining professional groups and associations, individuals can connect with like-minded professionals, exchange knowledge, and access industry-specific training and resources. Some prominent cybersecurity professional groups include:

Professional Group Description
Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) A global organization dedicated to providing educational forums, networking opportunities, and resources for cybersecurity professionals.
International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) An organization that focuses on privacy and data protection, offering certifications, training, and a community of privacy professionals.
Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) A nonprofit organization that promotes best practices and provides education for secure cloud computing environments.

By actively engaging in education and training, be it through reading resources, attending workshops, or joining professional groups, individuals can continually enhance their knowledge and skills in cybersecurity. These efforts contribute to their professional growth and open doors to rewarding opportunities in this ever-expanding industry.

Gaining Hands-On Experience

Gaining hands-on experience is a crucial step in developing practical skills in cyber security. Through interactive training exercises and challenges, individuals can apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios and enhance their technical capabilities. Several cybersecurity labs and platforms offer hands-on training opportunities to provide a safe and controlled environment for individuals to practice their skills.

Cybersecurity Labs and Platforms

Try Hack Me is a popular cybersecurity lab that offers a wide range of hands-on exercises and challenges. Their gamified learning experience allows individuals to immerse themselves in real-world scenarios, testing their skills in a controlled environment.

Pentester Academy is another platform that provides practical training in various cybersecurity domains. With a focus on offensive security, individuals can learn techniques such as web application security, network security, and penetration testing through interactive exercises.

Server Academy specializes in training individuals on server administration and security. With their hands-on approach, individuals can acquire the necessary skills to secure servers and protect against potential threats.

By actively engaging in hands-on exercises and challenges provided by these cybersecurity labs and platforms, individuals can gain the practical experience needed to succeed in the field of cyber security. This hands-on experience allows them to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, enhance problem-solving skills, and develop a deeper understanding of cybersecurity concepts.

Benefits of Hands-On Experience

Hands-on experience offers numerous benefits for individuals pursuing a career in cyber security. It allows them to:

  • Apply theoretical knowledge in practical scenarios
  • Hone technical skills and develop a deeper understanding of cybersecurity concepts
  • Gain exposure to real-world challenges and develop problem-solving abilities
  • Build a solid foundation for advanced cybersecurity practices

Hands-on experience in cybersecurity labs and platforms provides individuals with the opportunity to strengthen their skillset and stand out in the competitive job market. It also demonstrates their commitment to continuous learning and professional growth, qualities highly valued in the cyber security industry.

Cybersecurity Lab/Platform Key Features
Try Hack Me Gamified learning experience, diverse range of exercises and challenges
Pentester Academy Specializes in offensive security, interactive exercises in various cybersecurity domains
Server Academy Focuses on server administration and security training

The Importance of Certification

Obtaining certifications in cyber security can significantly enhance an individual’s professional credibility and open up new career opportunities. Certifications serve as tangible proof of expertise and can provide a competitive edge in the job market.

For individuals interested in OT cybersecurity, there are specific certifications that validate their knowledge and skills in securing industrial control systems. One such certification is the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 62443 certification, which focuses on the security of industrial automation and control systems. This certification demonstrates proficiency in implementing cybersecurity measures specific to operational technology environments.

When considering certification programs, it is essential to carefully evaluate their return on investment (ROI) and select the ones that align with personal career goals and industry demands. Some certifications may carry more weight in certain sectors or job roles, so it’s crucial to research and choose certifications accordingly.

To prepare for certification exams and gain comprehensive knowledge, attending cybersecurity trainings is highly beneficial. One notable training program is the “Master ICS/OT Cybersecurity: Fundamental to Advanced” course. This course covers a wide range of topics, from foundational concepts to advanced techniques, providing participants with the necessary skills and expertise to excel in OT cybersecurity.

By obtaining relevant certifications, professionals in the cyber security industry can demonstrate their competence and increase their chances of success. Certifications not only enhance one’s professional reputation but also showcase dedication and a commitment to staying current in the ever-evolving field of cyber security.

Benefits of Certification:

  • Enhanced professional credibility
  • Increased job prospects
  • Validation of expertise in a specialized field
  • Opportunities for career advancement
  • Networking opportunities within the industry
  • Access to exclusive resources and professional communities

By investing in certifications and continuous education, individuals can stay at the forefront of the cyber security industry and contribute to the protection of critical information and systems.

Certification Organization Focus Area
CISSP International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) General Cyber Security
CISM ISACA Information Security Management
CEH Ethical Hacking Council (EC-Council) Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing
CCSP Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) Cloud Security
IEC 62443 International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) OT Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity Risk Management and Best Practices

Cybersecurity risk management is a critical aspect of protecting electronic information and systems from cyber threats. By conducting regular risk assessments, organizations can identify vulnerabilities and evaluate the potential impact of cyber attacks. Some common cyber threats include adversarial threats, technical vulnerabilities, insider threats, phishing, ransomware, malware, botnets, SQL injection, and denial-of-service attacks.

Implementing best practices is crucial in effectively managing cyber risks. This includes:

  • Identifying assets at risk: Identifying and prioritizing the critical assets that need protection is essential.
  • Assessing vulnerabilities: Conducting vulnerability assessments helps identify weaknesses and areas that require improvement.
  • Determining the impact of potential breaches: Evaluating the potential consequences of a cyber attack aids in developing appropriate response strategies.
  • Regularly performing risk assessments: Conducting periodic risk assessments enables organizations to stay proactive in mitigating cyber risks.

Frameworks such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and ISO 27001 provide guidelines and best practices for managing and mitigating cyber risks. These standards offer comprehensive frameworks that organizations can adopt to establish effective cybersecurity risk management processes.

Staying updated on the latest threats and continually reviewing and updating security controls is crucial for maintaining an effective cybersecurity risk management program. By staying proactive and implementing best practices, organizations can minimize their exposure to cyber threats and protect their valuable information and systems.

Cyber Threats Description
Adversarial threats Threats posed by malicious actors, such as hackers and cybercriminals, who attempt to gain unauthorized access to systems or steal sensitive information.
Technical vulnerabilities Weaknesses in software, hardware, or network infrastructure that can be exploited by cyber attackers to gain unauthorized access or disrupt operations.
Insider threats Threats posed by individuals within an organization who have authorized access to systems but misuse their privileges to cause harm or disclose sensitive information.
Phishing A social engineering attack where cybercriminals pose as a trustworthy entity to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or financial details.
Ransomware A type of malware that encrypts files on a victim’s system and holds them hostage until a ransom is paid, often causing significant disruption to operations.
Malware Malicious software designed to gain unauthorized access to systems, steal information, or disrupt operations.
Botnets A network of compromised computers controlled by cybercriminals, often used to carry out coordinated attacks, such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
SQL injection An attack technique where cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in web applications to manipulate or extract data from databases.
Denial-of-service (DoS) attacks Attacks that aim to render a system or network unavailable to its intended users by overwhelming it with a flood of illegitimate requests or traffic.


Obtaining an online degree in cyber security is an excellent pathway to entering the high-demand field and paving a successful career. By following the step-by-step roadmap outlined in this article, individuals can gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and certifications to thrive in the cybersecurity industry.

Continued learning is essential in staying competitive in this dynamic field. It is crucial to stay updated on the latest threats and best practices through continuous education and training. Additionally, actively seeking hands-on experience, whether through cybersecurity labs or real-world projects, can help individuals develop practical skills and enhance their expertise.

Success in the cyber security industry requires dedication, perseverance, and a commitment to lifelong learning. By leveraging the opportunities offered by online degrees, individuals can build a successful career in cyber security and contribute to safeguarding digital systems and data.


What is cyber security?

Cyber security is a field that focuses on protecting electronic information and systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction.

What is the difference between IT and OT cybersecurity?

IT cybersecurity focuses on securing information and data, while OT cybersecurity focuses on securing industrial control systems, infrastructure, energy, and manufacturing.

How can I gain knowledge and skills in cyber security?

You can start by reading books about cyber security, attending trainings and workshops, and joining professional groups and associations in the industry.

What are some recommended cyber security books to read?

Some recommended books include “Industrial Network Security” by Eric D. Knapp and Joel Langill, “Applied Cyber Security and the Smart Grid” by Eric D. Knapp and Raj Samani, and “Industrial Process Automation Systems: Design and Implementation” by L. A. Bryan.

How can I gain hands-on experience in cyber security?

You can gain hands-on experience by participating in cybersecurity labs and platforms such as Try Hack Me, Pentester Academy, and Server Academy, which offer practical training exercises and challenges.

Are certifications important in cyber security?

Yes, certifications can significantly enhance your professional credibility and open up new career opportunities in the cyber security industry.

What are some certifications specific to OT cybersecurity?

Certifications such as IEC 62443 can validate your expertise and knowledge in securing industrial control systems.

How can I manage cyber risks?

Regularly conducting risk assessments, identifying vulnerabilities, and implementing best practices such as those outlined in frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework can help manage and mitigate cyber risks.

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