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A cyber security engineer develops, implements, and upgrades security measures geared towards keeping hackers away. Working as a cyber security engineer is like being a master builder. Even though most of the groundwork will be in terms of firewall configurations and vulnerability scans, you will need a creative mind that adapts to different attacks as they arise.

Responsibilities

Here is an abbreviated list of duties for a Cyber Security Engineer from a job posting at the employment site Indeed:

  • Use encryption technology, penetration, and vulnerability analysis of various security technologies, and IT security research.
  • Recommend new architectural features into existing infrastructures, designs cyber security architectural artifacts, providing architectural analysis and relates existing system to future needs and trends.
  • Perform installation and configuration management of security systems and applications, including policy assessment and compliance tools, network security appliances, and host-based security systems.
  • Develop, test, troubleshoot, and document new and enhanced systems.

The profession has several titles depending on the respective company. Examples are:

  • IT Security Engineer
  • Information Security Engineer
  • Cyber Security Engineer
  • IT Security Architect

Using job postings as a guide, here are examples of the degree requirements:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Systems
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems/Technology, Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or a related field
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, Information Systems Security, Cybersecurity, or related field
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or related engineering discipline

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The caveat for these positions is that the majority seek at least one year of experience. The required experience increases as the seniority of the position increases. At a Senior Network Engineer level, there could be a minimum of 7 years experience needed in network engineering to qualify.

The consensus from the job postings is that computer science and computer engineering are the most in-demand degrees. Therefore, earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science (CS), cybersecurity, information technology or related field should be the first step.

Computer Science

The four-year undergraduate curriculum in computer science includes a sound preparation in science, mathematics, English, statistics, and computing. A Bachelor of Science in CS will include courses in systems programming, operating systems, data structures, and network security. There are programs that divide the curriculum into tracks: Algorithms, Systems, Software, and Information & Intelligence. Courses in the latter track cover Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, and spatial intelligence.

AI has become the focus in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity experts use AI to detect simple threats and attacks. New generations of malware and cyber-attacks can be difficult to detect with conventional cybersecurity protocols. They evolve over time, so approaches that are more dynamic are necessary. Another way AI systems can help is by categorizing attacks based on threat level.

Computer Engineering

A typical Computer Engineering (CE) curriculum provides a balanced view of hardware, software, hardware-software tradeoffs, analysis, design, and implementation techniques. A Bachelor of Science degree provides students the freedom to enhance their knowledge in a broad range of topics comprising computer engineering. These include computer networks, computer architecture, artificial microcomputers, and large-scale hardware and software systems.

This degree involves courses with an emphasis on design and development. You may expect courses in data structures, digital design, circuit analysis, electronic design, CMOS design, and product design.

CS vs. CE: What is the Difference?

Computer Engineering is the marriage of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. It concerns the electrical engineering considerations of how microprocessors function, are designed and are optimized; how data is communicated among electronic components; how integrated systems of electronic components are designed and how they operate to process instructions expressed in software; and how software is written, compiled, and optimized for specific hardware platforms.

Computer Science is the study of how data and instructions are processed, stored, communicated by computing devices. It deals with algorithms for processing data, the design of instruction languages for processing data, techniques for writing software that process data on a variety of computing platforms, protocols for communicating data reliably and securely across networks.

Computer engineers are electrical engineers who specialize in software design, hardware design, or systems design that integrates both.

Computer scientists are scientists and mathematicians who develop ways to process, interpret, store, communicate and secure data.

This union of CS and electrical engineering is evident in some programs. For example, a School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has an electrical engineering undergraduate program that offers the choice of a traditional electrical engineering track or computer engineering. The computer engineering track deals with the research, design, development, and testing of computer hardware and software systems, including microprocessors, micro-controllers, digital systems, VLSI/VHDL (circuit) design, network security, distributed computing, computer architecture, and embedded digital systems.