From buying cryptocurrency to communicating with artificial intelligence, the possibilities for what you can accomplish on the internet are seemingly endless.
With that, the boundaries between the real world and cyberspace have become increasingly blurred, and what we do online can often have more real-world ramifications than we realize.
That’s why cybersecurity and cyber law is a top-growing field in the U.S., one that promises plenty of job opportunities, career stability and competitive compensation. But how do you get involved in the field?
To get a better understanding of what cybersecurity entails, which types of careers are available and how you can get started in the sector, we spoke with Jeffrey Dennis, head of the privacy and data security practice at Newmeyer Dillon and a lecturer at USC Gould School of Law.
What Is Cyber Law?
As you may have ascertained from the name, cyber law focuses on preventing and combating offenses committed on the web. Tackling copyright issues, thwarting fraud and responding to cyber breaches are major tenets of the field.
“Cyber law is an evolving area of law related to how companies are protecting their systems from intrusion and theft, and it crosses over into privacy laws, too, when it comes to protecting the personal information these companies have,” Dennis told USC Online. “There are several different laws centered on how companies are defending themselves and what their duties are surrounding those obligations to protect information, intellectual property and their technical systems.”
As cybersecurity becomes more paramount to businesses across all sectors, there is an increased need for trained professionals to monitor and protect companies and organizations from digital attacks and data leaks.
“There are cyber technical attorney jobs that are out there in the private sector. There are also a whole host of burgeoning careers in the public sector related to a number of different agencies that have come online, and now they are evolving and growing,” Dennis said.
If you want to pursue a role in cybersecurity and cyber law, you can find positions anywhere from the government to small businesses. You can work in the media, technology, entertainment or hospitality sectors — among many others. Most businesses need a skilled cybersecurity specialist to help protect their privacy and data and to advise them on legal issues when concerns do arise.
Some specific careers include information security analysts, who monitor for internal security breaches and investigate them when they occur; digital forensic investigators, who examine digital data for criminal investigations; penetration hackers, who attempt to break into a company’s systems to test their effectiveness; cybersecurity compliance officers, who ensure an organization is complying with governmental regulations; and cybersecurity engineers, who build security systems from the ground up.
Others become cybersecurity attorneys who work to defend companies when facing concerns such as cybercrimes, privacy law, digital integrity and more. They also protect organizations by making sure they’re following all state, federal and international digital regulations.
How to Get a Job in Cybersecurity and Cyber Law
If you’re looking to pursue a career in cybersecurity, there are all sorts of ways to enter the field, Dennis said. Candidates can approach the sector from a technological or a legal background.
“There’s not really a set path because the field is growing and expanding so quickly. There are folks who come at it from a more technological base. There might be systems engineers and the like who have already been involved in technical cyber security, and they want to round themselves out with a cyber law degree. Then, there are lawyers who want to get involved,” he explained. “Whatever exposure you can get in those areas is very helpful to begin.”
Whether you start out by studying law or by entering the technology field, you can increase your knowledge in a variety of ways. Some learn on the job, while others turn to a master’s program or a specialized graduate certificate.
If you’re considering a legal-related track, USC Gould School of Law, for example, offers a Privacy Law and Cybersecurity online certificate, which can be earned on its own or concurrently with a Master of Studies in Law (MSL) or Master of Laws (LLM). All three pathways are a surefire way to advance your career, Dennis noted.
“I think you set yourself apart from other folks with legal training because you have a proficiency and interest in that particular area,” he said. “It demonstrates a knowledge base that companies or law firms are looking for, if they’re trying to grow a cybersecurity or privacy team.”
But it’s not only seasoned lawyers who seek out the Privacy Law and Cybersecurity online certificate. You’ll find an eclectic group of people — from information technology specialists to military veterans — who are looking to make their mark on the ever-growing world of cybersecurity.
“There are many students who come from all sorts of different paths and backgrounds. They aren’t all lawyers who are trying to become cybersecurity lawyers, either. It’s a group of students who are interested in the field and want to learn more about it. And frankly, I think they should because it’s only getting to be bigger and more important as the technology continues to evolve,” he said.
Overall, whether you want to pursue a master’s program, take advantage of informal learning opportunities on the job or earn a graduate certificate, it’s your decision to make. Cybersecurity is a new, burgeoning field, and there is no specific track to success.
“The path really depends on where someone is at in their career. But there isn’t just a singular path. There are probably dozens of them,” Dennis said.
Cybersecurity Job Salary
The compensation you can expect to receive in a cybersecurity position is impacted by various factors, including your experience level, job location, the role responsibilities, required qualifications and more.
On average, however, a cybersecurity analyst can make anywhere from $57,000 to $142,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. When it comes to the top positions in the field, experts can expect annual salaries between $200,000 to $500,000, according to a 2020 report from Cybercrime Magazine.
Of course, those numbers can vary, but there are plenty of opportunities and room for growth throughout the field.
The Bottom Line
Cybersecurity is a primary concern for today’s businesses, which makes it the perfect career path for those who are seeking job stability, a lucrative income and the chance to safeguard the privacy and data of not only companies, but also individuals.
Having an education in cybersecurity and cyber law — whether that’s through a master’s degree or a graduate certificate — will also help you further specialize your resume and expand your job possibilities.
Ultimately, it’s worth considering both graduate school options if you’re hoping to gain critical cybersecurity knowledge and strategic thinking skills, as well as stand out from other applicants during your job hunt.
Learn more about the Privacy Law and Cybersecurity online certificate from USC Gould School of Law today.