What is Cybersecurity?

Security Everywhere

Cybersecurity comprises a set of technologies and practices that ensure the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of information percolating through digital systems, networks, devices, and sensors. This rough definition of cybersecurity is already insufficient because digital technologies are themselves rapidly evolving, reshaping human experience and understanding, and generating complexity and effects that extend beyond what humans can reasonably know or manage.

Our lives are now shaped at all levels by digital technologies: from fundamental critical infrastructure to prosaic crib-side monitors and coffee makers. The use and abuse of algorithms shape what we know to be true about the distribution of power, resources, and even the coherence of our social fabric.

These dynamics make cybersecurity one of the most professionally important and intellectually interesting domains—a true, twenty-first century master problem.

In the not-too-distant future, we expect the evolving and expanding concept of cybersecurity to morph simply, but significantly, into “security.” Cybersecurity will be synonymous with the broader concept of security and will be ubiquitous.

Technology and Humans

At the turn of the century, scholars and practitioners considered cybersecurity to be a difficult but bounded technical problem. Cybersecurity was an effort to secure computers and networks against malicious activities aimed at stealing data or money or at compromising national security.

Cyberattacks evolved from computers and networks to social engineering techniques and from there to hacks of personal identities and manipulation of objects and systems in the physical world. Today, the practice of cybersecurity includes technologies, processes, and policies; cybersecurity experts are called upon to protect users in many contexts beyond the screen. For cybersecurity professionals, human behaviors are as important as technical safeguards.


“Organizations around the country and around the world have told us that the one thing they need more than anything else in the cybersecurity field is people.”

Steven Weber, Faculty Director of CLTC and Professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information


Why Pursue Cybersecurity?

As the threat landscape continues to evolve and hackers find more ways to compromise data, the potential risk for any company to experience a breach in the future is high. The increased complexity of the threat landscape means that organizations must employ more comprehensive information security strategies and solutions to protect business continuity and customer information.

57% of companies have experienced a breach in the last three years1

24% of companies have experienced a data breach halfway through this year1

36% of companies who have not experienced a data breach believe they could be facing one without knowing it1

How can organizations protect their data and avoid a breach? To combat the threat landscape, organizations are hiring cybersecurity professionals who can protect their information and prevent future breaches from happening.

Cybersecurity professionals are trained to protect a company’s financial information and intellectual property, fight online fraud, create hack-proof client records, and more. They can hold a range of jobs, including:

  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Information security analyst
  • Cybersecurity consultant
  • Computer network architect

Protecting consumer data is an important responsibility, so many companies are willing to pay top salaries to hire experienced cybersecurity professionals.

Cybersecurity at Berkeley

We designed the Master of Information and Cybersecurity (MICS) program from the ground up to meet this emerging set of cybersecurity challenges. We believe the next generation of cybersecurity professionals will need technical capabilities and a deep contextual understanding of the ways in which digital insecurities shape societies, organizations, and individuals.

Cybersecurity professionals can make the greatest impact at the intersection of these domains. The UC Berkeley School of Information also sits intellectually at this intersection. We are teachers, researchers, and practitioners who bring together the ethical, social, political, economic, legal, military, and technical components of cybersecurity, so we can equip graduates to become leaders in the field, whether they wish to lead in the private, public, or philanthropic sector.

There is no silver bullet for addressing cybersecurity challenges. No static set of capabilities will ensure the career success of a cybersecurity professional. Our program is designed to develop students’ capacity to master the concepts, skills, toolsets, and insights needed to fuel a long and dynamic cybersecurity career.

 

1 Hacked Off! (2019). Bitedefender (PDF, 16.2MB). Accessed February 6, 2020.