Homeland Security and Cyber Security
In the words of President Obama, cyber-attacks are “one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces.” With the advent of the Internet and the exponential growth of both IT and technology in general over the last two decades, a new branch of criminal justice has become necessary: cyber security. The Internet and technology such as GPS-enabled devices and mobile phones have not only allowed people to stay better connected in day-to-day life, but it has also opened doors for criminal acts such as identity theft, espionage, hacking, and even terrorism.
The field of cyber security has become widespread in criminal justice agencies across the nation, from local police departments to the military and even Homeland Security. Many criminal justice students who are also interested in computers and technology are beginning to concentrate on cyber security in order to counteract crime and terrorism that takes place in cyber-space, and there are even digital forensic specialists that are called in on cases from time to time.
The responsibilities of a career in cyber security with the Department of Homeland Security involve incident response, vulnerability detection and assessment network and systems engineering, intelligence, investigation, strategic analysis, and assessment of cyber risk; all in an attempt to protect the cyberspace of the United States. Recently, there has been a push to increase monitoring of social media sites in order to identify possible threats to the nation, from terrorism to treason and even pedophilia. However, in doing so, Homeland Security is walking a fine line between national security and violation of privacy. As such, people in the cyber security field must be educated not only in the use of technology and the Internet, but also in criminal justice and the law.
In an effort to reduce the time and expense of obtaining two degrees to become a cyber security professional, many colleges, universities and online criminal justice schools offer information security or cyber security degrees to students to cover both realms of education: technology and criminal justice. Cyber security degrees are offered at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels, and some schools also offer undergraduate or graduate certificates in the field.