Experian. Target. Capital One. Yahoo. Facebook. Marriott International. Every one of these corporations were hacked. Data and customer information was stolen. For the majority of these hacking break-ins, the reason was poor security. Companies, citizens, and governments need to harden their security defenses so that hackers cannot gain entry to computer networks or hijack entire systems, locking employees out. In this last instance, hackers often demand a steep ransom before handing back over access to these systems. In this type of hacking (ransomware), they take passwords over so employees can’t do their work. A mid-sized school district in southern New Mexico was recently hit by ransomware. IT employees are slowly restoring systems—whether the school district has a dedicated cyber security staff isn’t known.
In a cyber security career, you won’t be in charge of data entry. Instead, you’ll be responsible for protecting every bit and byte of data. You’ll ensure that bad actors, such as black-hat hackers, can’t steal or expose private or sensitive data. If you remember one thing about the importance of a career in cyber security, let it be this: Companies and government agencies will be hacked. Unless they beef up the security protecting their valuable data, it will be lost.
Why an Advanced Degree in Mississippi is Needed
The severe shortage of cyber security personnel is one of the main reasons professionals entering this arena need to work toward an advanced degree. While a certificate, self-learning, or an associate degree may earn you an entry-level position within the cyber security field, only those with bachelor’s degrees and above will be able to earn top level certifications and lead teams of cyber security professionals. As managers and specialists in the field become more and more important, the requirement for higher level degrees also increases.
Mississippi Cyber Security Education Degrees & Requirements
Community colleges have cyber security technology programs aimed at helping students obtain the skills they need to earn entry-level positions within the field. Post-graduation, they will be able to recognize threats to data and help prevent them from causing damage to computer networks and systems. Cyber Security Technology students learn about intrusion detection, security models, handling hacking or intrusion incidents, protection of the network’s perimeters, firewalls, and laws surrounding network security.
- Network Administration Using Linux
- PowerShell Programming
- Computer Forensics
- Penetration Testing and Implementation
Bachelor’s degrees go further in educating students in all manner of cyber security threats and defense strategies. Upon graduation, students are able to walk into positions as systems analysts, systems administrators, solution developers, network administrators, and web masters. They are also able to sit for a wider variety of certifications, which will enhance their careers in cyber security and their effectiveness in their various positions.
- Systems Architecture
- Information Technology Fundamentals
Many master’s degree programs allow students to choose between thesis or non-thesis programs. A part of the thesis students’ work will be spent in doing research, which they will write their thesis on. Both thesis and non-thesis students take several hours of core courses in cyber security, and the rest focuses on their chosen concentration.
- Network Security
- Introduction to Computer Forensics
- Information and Computer Security
- Graduate Seminar
Certifications in Mississippi
Mississippi College’s cyber security and information assurance certificate program enables cyber security professionals, along with information technology personnel to expand their development in cyber security. The certification program offers the tools they need to quickly identify threats to their employer’s computer network. Once they have identified a cyber-threat, they will be able to prevent it from happening; in addition, they will be able to decrease the severity of other cyber-threats.
Certificates and certifications in general are vital at all levels of education to provide continuing education for professionals, allow those with a degree in one computer science field to transition into another, and allow for specialization in a variety of cyber security arenas.
Example Certificate Focuses
- Computer Security
- Cryptography and Network Security
- Computer and Network Forensics
- Ethics and Law in Information Security
Why is Accreditation so Important?
Any cyber security degree program you choose should be accredited, whether it is only accredited at the college level or also has program accreditation. Regional accreditation for the institution is the top form of institutional accreditation, being the toughest and most rigorous accreditation in the US.
As you compare cyber security degree programs, you can also look for a designation that says the program is a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE). The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are responsible for the rules that decide which programs receive this designation.
The NSA and DHS both look at the quality of degree programs offered at universities. Schools with this designation offer high-quality instruction from instructor/practitioners who are well-known in their field. When you see this CAE designation, you know that the degree carries a high level of prestige.
CAE Accredited Programs in Mississippi
- Mississippi State University
CAE-CD / 2014-2021
CAE-R / 2014-2021
Computer Science & IT Programs in Mississippi
Strayer University - Mississippi
Strayer University is aware that the IT field is growing as tech executives expand their departments. They offer several computer science and cyber security related degrees to their 500+ students in Jackson, Mississippi and at locations all over the US.
Computer Science and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance - Master’s Degree
Information Science/Studies - Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees, Undergraduate & Postgraduate Certificate
Information Technology - Bachelor’s Degree
College Retention Rate: 37% (Part-time Students)
At Mississippi College, its School of Science and Mathematics offers a top program which encourages students to use a scientific approach as they gain new knowledge. Students are also encouraged to learn and develop new skills in critical thinking and problem-solving.
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s Degree
Computer Programming/Programmer – Postgraduate Certificate
Computer Science – Bachelor’s, Master’s Degrees & Postgraduate Certificate
Average Net Price: $17,520
College Retention Rate: 80% (Full-time Students) ; 29% (Part-time Students)
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University has a well-regarded Computer Science Department that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Each faculty member is an expert in their chosen field, with several being nationally known within the scientific community. This means that you’ll benefit from the newest knowledge in your classes, making you even more attractive to future employers.
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s, Master’s & Doctorate Degrees
Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance – Master’s Degree
Average Net Price: $16,670
College Retention Rate: 80% (Full-time Students); 29% (Part-time Students)
Jackson State University
Jackson State University’s goal for students in the Department of Computer Science are to aid each student in gaining a full understanding of their ethical responsibilities once they are working as computer professionals, helping them to develop an understanding of the basic theories and principles of computer science; to help them find and develop the professional skills they need so they may be successfully employed.
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
Computer Science – Doctorate Degree
Average Net Price: $12,541
College Retention Rate: 53%
University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi offers a Computer Science Bachelor of Science degree. Undergraduate students focus on learning and using theories of computer science along with techniques in subjects such as bioinformatics, computer game design, and software engineering. Upon graduation, students can either start their careers or continue with graduate studies.
Computer and Information Sciences – Bachelor’s & Master’s Degrees
Average Net Price: $13,773
College Retention Rate: 72% (Full-time Students); 38% (Part-time Students)
Mississippi Colleges Offering Certificates and Associate Degrees
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
The college’s Jefferson Davis campus offers several certificates and two-year degrees in computer science and cyber security-related fields. Students gain practical knowledge in integrity and confidentiality and learn about design, installation, management, planning, operation, and how to troubleshoot an infrastructure that is fully secure.
After graduation, students will be able to operate a secure network that is reliable and consistent. Students will be ready to detect, slow down, and prevent cyber-crimes from taking place. They will be able to deal with network security exploits and web-related attempts.
Average Net Price: $7,795
College Retention Rate: 63% (Full-time Students); 15% (Part-time Students)
Hinds Community College
Hinds Community College, perhaps recognizing the growing need for cyber security personnel, offers degrees with a focus on cyber security technology. This program provides targeted teaching in exercising technology and integrity in the cyber security field. Upon graduation, students will be able to install new computer systems, design networks, and operate, plan, and manage them.
Average Net Price: $4,089
College Retention Rate: 65% (Full-time Students); 35% (Part-time Students)
Itawamba Community College
At Itawamba Community College, located in Tupelo, the computer science program allows students to obtain hands-on experience, which aids them as they take enter the workforce. The faculty understands just how much computers and their networks have become such an integral part of everyday life and strives to prepare students for useful positions in cyber security.
Average Net Price: $6,224
College Retention Rate: 68% (Full-time Students); 17% (Part-time Students)
Holmes Community College
The Grenada and Ridgeland campuses both offer Computer and Information Sciences degree programs. The program most applicable to students wanting to enter a cyber security career is the Computer and Information Sciences degree, offered at the campus in Grenada.
Average Net Price: $5,723
College Retention Rate: 67% (Full-time Students); 27% (Part-time Students)
Northeast Mississippi Community College
Students at Northeast Mississippi Community College programs concentrates on digital forensics and network security, both of which are vital for cyber security professionals. For students who wish, the iOS App Development concentration allows them to work on mobile devices and networks. This focuses on networks, communications, Swift Programming, and security.
Average Net Price: $9,107
College Retention Rate: 68% (Full-time Students); 28% (Part-time Students)
Northwest Mississippi Community College
Average Net Price: $5,711
College Retention Rate: 56% (Full-time Students); 40% (Part-time Students)
CyberCorps Scholarship for Service
Amount: $22,500 for undergraduates; $34,000 for graduate students; $2,000 book allowance per academic year
Deadline: Not listed
This national scholarship is offered for East Mississippi Community College students who plan attend Mississippi State University. Applicants should be motivated to have a career in the United States Civil Service, be involved in cyber student activities at MSU, and be accepted into the FBI’s Infragard Program.
University of Mississippi Academic Merit Scholarship
Amount: Varies per students’ qualifications
Deadline: Prior to enrollment at the University of Mississippi
This merit-based scholarship is awarded based on the student’s high school GPA and their college entrance test scores. Entering freshmen should hold a high school GPA of at least 3.0; their ACT scores should be at least 23, their SAT-R score should be at least 1130.
Community College Academic Excellence Scholarship - 2
Amount: $8,000 ($4,000 /year) +$3,000/year for non-residents
Deadline: April 1 (Fall) – October 1 (Spring)
This scholarship provides a tidy sum of funds for community college students to use for tuition, fees, and books. To be eligible, students must be community college transfer students with at least a 3.5 GPA. They must also have at least 48 transferable credits to the new college and be enrolled full-time.
Luckyday University Scholarship
Amount: $12,000 ($6,000 per academic year)
Deadline: February 15
This scholarship is annually awarded to a group of 25 community college students who are transferring from their community college to a university. Students must reside in Mississippi and they must also have “remaining” financial need as demonstrated by their completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Conferences and Workshops
This conference, presented by the Mississippi state government, seeks to encourage new developments in cyber security. It also tries to support cyber security best practices and procedures within all agencies. The gathering was created to add an advisory board, which requests both public and private sector leaders to help develop a realistic agenda with usable suggestions.
The sponsors of this summit know that nations around the world are struggling to fight cyber security incursions on government and business organizations. Cyber-crimes have hit the highest levels of US government, affecting the 2016 presidential election and other government departments. Cyber security specialists can and should detect attempts at all levels.
This cyber security conference takes place annually in Mississippi. Speakers discuss industrial control systems’ need for strong cyber security, ways that individuals can set up their own home cyber security labs, as well as how people with some experience can do so.
Mississippi Cyber Security Jobs and Salary
Mississippi is working on catching up to the cyber security efforts being put in place by other states. Cyber security employment falls at the lower end of the scale in Mississippi, with 340 of these professionals currently employed in the state. Annual salaries average $73,550, which is lower than the national average but high for Mississippi residents. Per 1,000 Mississippi residents, only 30 are employed in the information security field.
The Mississippi Workforce Development Office’s projections state that the employment of information security analysts is projected to grow modestly, from 340 being currently employed to about 400 in a few years. This is an increase of almost 18%.
Some computer and mathematical occupations are more highly populated, while others employ far fewer professionals in the general sector. As cyber-attacks become more widely publicized, the state should make efforts to expand education and hiring so that, as they graduate, new cyber security professionals can find work in their home state.
- Dark Reading
This is a community of cyber security professionals that meet online. On this website, cyber security students and professionals will find discussions on various topics in personal, business, and governmental cyber security. People who work in cyber security can read such posts as “6 Personality Profiles of White-Hat Hackers” and “5 Reasons the Cybersecurity Labor Shortfall Won’t End Soon”.
- Security Week
This resource enables professionals and students to update themselves on the newest technology and trends. Written as blogs and news articles, the website has positioned itself as a leading resource in this industry. Topics generally found on the site include smart device security, information security, cloud security, and risk management.
- Krebs on Security
American journalist and reporter Brian Krebs curates and writes articles focused on cyber-criminals who are seeking a high profile. He writes about data breaches and crime investigations. Some of his posts include “Blowing the Whistle on Bad Attribution”, “Who is Marcus Hutchins?”, and “Mirai IoT Botnet Co-Authors Plead Guilty.”