Cybersecurity vs. Ethical Hacking: Career ROI

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Updated: February 14, 2024, Reading time: 5 minutes

Cybersecurity vs Ethical Hacking - featured image

The main challenge faced by businesses going digital is keeping their systems safe from cyber-attacks. Professionals in the Cybersecurity industry play an important role in the identification and management of these cyber threats and attacks.

But do you know that under Cybersecurity, there is a specialization called Ethical Hacking? 

Cybersecurity vs Ethical Hacking - fact

That’s right. Ethical Hackers test out the security systems of organizations and businesses by employing white hat hacking or penetration testing. It is a method that allows them to examine the weaknesses in an agreed parameter. They recommend patches and fixes that strengthen the security put in place.

If you are a prospective college student pursuing a career in the tech industry, you may be mulling over some career choices that involve Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking. The two are growing fields that pose exciting career opportunities for those whose passion lies in computer technology, solving problems, and strategizing.

To help you make up your mind, let’s explore Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking!

Comparing Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking

Let’s put some numbers into the mix: salaries and features in both fields!

Cybersecurity AnalystEthical Hacker
Starting Pay$77,000$79,919
Average Salary$112,000$106,198
Job Responsibilities● Protects data and networks (hardware and software) from various potential security breaches
● Gain a deep understanding of a specific IT infrastructure they are protecting while providing constant monitoring.
● Constantly evaluate the performance, resilience, and weaknesses of IT infrastructure.
● Identify vulnerabilities to various networks & computer systems
● Do penetration testing of various systems to pre-empt access by malicious hackers
● Help develop response plans in the event of an attack
EmphasisDefense and safeguarding of systemsSimulated offense/attack
Other FeaturesCybersecurity analysts possess similar skill sets to ethical hackers, but they have a bigger set of responsibilities.● A subset of Cybersecurity
● Also commonly known as “white-hat hacking.”

All About Cybersecurity

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A subset of Computer Science, Cybersecurity protects systems, networks, devices, and data from cyber-attacks. Cybersecurity professionals are more relevant than ever. In fact, the number of cyberattacks in the US reached 480,000 in 2022 alone, making cybercrime one of the major risks for many US companies.

Cybersecurity helps address this issue. Many professionals in the Cybersecurity industry earn a degree in Cybersecurity, where they delve into programming, computer networking, and digital forensics, among others.

How to Become A Cybersecurity Analyst/Specialist

The entry-level position in Cybersecurity often only requires a bachelor’s degree, but those who want to pursue advanced leadership positions in the field may want to consider furthering their education by earning a Master’s in Cybersecurity degree.

Students with an academic background in Security Management may also consider focusing on Cybersecurity.

To reach positions of leadership in the industry, completing a Doctor of Cybersecurity program should be in your plans!

Students can specialize in:

Many Cybersecurity majors work in consulting firms, financial companies, computer facilities, and government and non-government organizations. They are your Information Security Analysts, Security Engineers, and Chief Information Security Officers.

A career in Cybersecurity is for you if:

Cybersecurity may not be a great fit if:

All About Ethical Hacking

All About Ethical Hacking - Image

Ethical hackers employ their skills to test potential security breaches by identifying vulnerabilities within a system. It is their responsibility to resolve possible threats and weaknesses before malicious attacks happen. 

Ethical Hackers are expected to employ strong technical knowledge and skills in networks, security practices, and computer systems. They need to inform organizations about the security gaps and flaws and even fix them, making sure that the system is truly secure. 

How to Become An Ethical Hacker

A Bachelor’s in Ethical Hacking, Computer Science, or a related field is your first step toward a career in this field. Similar to Cybersecurity, Ethical Hacking may require you to pursue advanced degrees to climb the career ladder.

In some cases, however, it is possible to become an ethical hacker without a formal education. Substantial experience and strong skills will suffice! You can obtain a CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) credential from the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants.

An Ethical Hacking career is for you if:

Ethical Hacking may not be a great fit if:

The world’s reliance on digitalization and IT infrastructure signals an increased need for data protection and defense against vulnerability—with Cybersecurity and Ethical Hacking at the forefront!

Additional Resources:

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