In recent years, there’s been a marked increase in ransomware attacks, soaring 158 percent from 2019 to 2020 in the United States alone. Cybersecurity professionals speculate that among the reasons for the spike is the fact that companies are paying the requested ransom – and cybercriminals are taking notice. Other causes include remote work during the pandemic and the growth of cryptocurrency. In 2015, ransomware damages worldwide were $325 million; by the end of 2021, it’s expected they will have increased to $20 billion. For all cybercrime, the 2021 figure is $6 trillion, and is predicted to increase 15 percent each year through 2026. Professionals proficient in cyber analytics are needed to assist in combating cyberattacks.
Cyber analytics features the use of cybersecurity and analytics tools to identify and mitigate damage from cyberthreats. Key topics include cyber forensics, network defense, applied cyber data analytics, security data visualization, and auditing and intrusion detection.
History of Cyber Analytics
The creation of cybersecurity dates back to the 1970s, when Bob Thomas, a researcher for ARPANET (The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), created the first computer virus, Creeper. Ray Tomlinson, also the inventor of email, responded with the first anti-virus software, Reaper.
In 1987, the first antivirus products were released to the public, which included Ultimate Virus Killer (UVK), NOD antivirus and VirusScan. This was also the year that Bernd Fix created software to destroy the notorious Vienna virus.
While the internet was invented in the 1980s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that people began joining in greater numbers. Usage has continued to surge; as of 2020, over half of the world’s population is online. The growing number of attacks and increased amount of digitized data made it clear that more sophisticated security tactics were needed.
Cyber analytics, also known as security analytics, involves the use of real-time and historical data to detect threats. It is more advanced than traditional security – or older security information and event management (SIEM) – because it allows for more of a proactive approach; teams can monitor activity and develop plans to defend against unauthorized access rather than waiting until an attack happens to take action.
It wasn’t until recent years that solutions combining analytics and cybersecurity became available. Before this point, companies relied on the combination of SIEM and user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) tools to get the security they needed.
Next-generation SIEMs integrate analytics into their software. In 2019, Splunk released Splunk Mission Control, combining SIEM, UEBA, and security orchestration, automation, and response. Other offerings include Exabeam’s Fusion SIEM, IBM’s QRadar SIEM, and McAfee’s Enterprise Security Manager.
Cyber Analytics Master’s Program Curriculum
With the recent growth in cyber attacks, there’s also a higher demand for professionals with the skills to defend against intrusions and manipulate advanced security products. A master’s in cybersecurity analytics prepares students to address technical challenges in the cybersecurity field. Since the program combines network security with data analysis, it’s best suited for those with a STEM background who have completed college-level statistics and calculus coursework.
Typical cybersecurity data analytics master’s courses include:
- Applied Data Analytics – Gain an understanding of statistical analysis techniques.
- Cyber Resilience – Learn how to develop a plan for recognition, resistance, recovery, and reinstatement.
- Security Data Visualization – Practice creating effective visuals for security data.
The primary difference between this program and a master’s in cybersecurity is its focus on the technical aspects of the cybersecurity field; a master’s in cybersecurity typically includes policy, management and technical coursework.
Careers in Cyber Analytics
According to CyberSeek, there are currently over 464,000 cybersecurity jobs available in the United States. Employers have difficulty finding professionals with the necessary cybersecurity expertise, so individuals with these skills are in high demand. Master’s in cybersecurity graduates can also expect a high salary; ZipRecruiter reports the national average yearly earnings is over $102,000.
Below we’ve included details on various jobs available in cyber analytics, including a brief description of each role, average salary and forecasted growth over the next 10 years.
|Job||Role Overview||Average Salary||Projected 10-Year Growth|
|Cybersecurity Architect||Otherwise known simply as security architects, professionals in this position are responsible for the planning and implementation of security programs for their organizations.||$115,125||25.4 percent|
|Vulnerability Analyst / Penetration Tester||Complete penetration testing on networks and software. Document vulnerabilities found and the changes necessary to fix them.||$101,020||27.5 percent|
|Cybersecurity Engineer||A hands-on job requiring the development and management of security applications and systems.||$95,179||23.1 percent|
|Cybersecurity Analyst||Monitors systems for security issues. Conducts analyses to detect vulnerabilities.||$89,000||22.0 percent|
|IT Auditor||Performs risk assessments and audits. Presents findings and recommendations for improvements.||$87,884||21.3 percent|
Salary and projected growth information from Burning Glass Labor Insight.
About the Master of Engineering in Cybersecurity Analytics at GW
The George Washington University has developed an online Master of Engineering in Cybersecurity Analytics program to prepare graduate students for addressing complex cybersecurity threats. The curriculum covers many concepts in cybersecurity, ranging from the foundational concepts of information security to cutting-edge technologies, such as predictive analytics.
In addition to the comprehensive scope of the curriculum, the cybersecurity analytics master’s program offers students the opportunity to network with GW’s experienced faculty, share their knowledge with one another and further refine their expertise through practical exercises.