Information assurance can be described as the practice of managing and assuring information. It also includes managing risks related to the use and processing of information, and protecting the integrity of data. As industries and businesses become more technology-driven, the need for data security is increasing. Data stored on networks and other sources has become more vulnerable than ever, pushing the need for expert security professionals. Companies are investing aggressively in finding security experts who can manage, secure, and protect their information from internal or external threats.
This demand has led to the demand for security experts and information assurance analysts. The field comes with challenges of its own, but offers a positive employment outlook. According to CNN Money, information assurance analysts were ranked among the best jobs in the US in 2013.
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Studying Information Assurance
Information assurance is offered as a major and a minor at all levels of post-graduate education. Individuals looking for a career in this field will need to be equipped with skills, knowledge, and an information assurance degree. It is also possible to combine information assurance with relevant academic disciplines such as information technology.
Bachelors in Information Assurance
The Bachelor of Science in information assurance is offered by a number of schools throughout the country. It is a four-year undergraduate program designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in information security. The program provides students with in-depth knowledge of security in the technological environment. Students will learn how to protect an organization’s information assets with the help of various security tools.
The program will also focus on hands-on training. Students will practically learn how to devise security plans, implement security tools, develop solutions for security risks, and more. Practical courses in the program are typically covered in computer training labs. The curriculum will cover a wide range of subjects which may include the following:
This course will cover data models of database management systems. Students will learn about the principles and problems of database design. Topics such as networking, SQL, query language, client-server interfaces, and database security are covered.
This course will cover the basics of information security. Students will learn about important topics such as security architecture, access control systems, disaster recovery planning, and management practices.
Information security and assurance
In this course, students will be introduced to the technical and administrative aspects of information assurance. Students will learn how to protect information assets, manage staffing functions, and provide appropriate technical response to security threats.
Masters in Information Assurance
This degree is designed for students preparing for advanced job positions in security. The program typically takes two years to complete. Students must have a bachelor degree to be eligible for information assurance graduate programs.
The program aims to provide students with a strong understanding of computer security, networking, and information technology. Students will also learn about the recent developments in the field, and how other sectors such as law, business, and psychology are integrated with information assurance.
The curriculum of an information assurance masters degree will generally include theory-based subjects and practical courses. It is important for students to develop advanced skills necessary for careers in information security. Here are some of the subjects that may be covered:
Information technology concepts
This course will introduce students to the concepts of technologies and information systems. Students will learn how businesses meet planned goals with the help of information systems.
This course explores the resources used to manage information systems in an organization. Students will learn about various enterprise strategies through case studies and real-world applications.
This course enables students to evaluate the risks of information security threats. The course will cover various policies used by businesses today.
Doctorate in Information Assurance
The highest level of degree offered in this field is the PhD in information assurance. The program is offered to students who have earned a masters level degree in the same or a similar field. It can take anywhere from 4 to 8 years to complete the degree.
The aim of a PhD information assurance degree is to equip students with advanced scholarly knowledge and skills required to assume leadership roles in an organization. The program focuses on research, global technology, cyberspace, and the role of security in government agencies. Students will need to complete the coursework, a research project, and dissertation to successfully earn the degree. Here are some of the courses you may cover:
This course will cover the theoretical concepts related to wireless networking and systems. Students will learn about cellular wireless technology, data networks, telecommunication channels, and more.
This course will provide students with an understanding of the legal and ethical issues that surround cyber law. Topics such as scientific research, copyright acts, and digital rights will be covered.
Fundamentals of computer engineering
This course is designed to cover the basics of programming and analysis. Students will learn about various computer engineering problems, computational problems, algorithms, and network problems.
Information Assurance Certification and Certificate Programs
To improve career prospects, get a professional certification. The Information Assurance Certification Review Board (IACRB) is a globally recognized organization that offers professional certifications in this field. Individuals will have to meet the specific requirements for certification.
On the other hand, information assurance certificate programs are offered to help individuals give their career a boost. This is a relatively short career-oriented program that aims to equip students with knowledge and applicable skills.
If you plan to enroll in information assurance degree programs, you must meet the admission requirements of the selected school. These requirements are likely to vary from place to place. To enroll in information assurance programs at undergraduate level, you will need a high school diploma or GED. A bachelor degree transcript will be needed for enrolling in a masters degree. Other requirements may include the submission of letters of recommendation, minimum CGPA, personal essay, and clearance of an entry test.
You don’t have to go to college to get a degree in this field, you can study online. By enrolling in an online information assurance degree, you can make your own study schedule, and not worry about travelling to class every day. Some students may find online information assurance courses flexible, convenient, and cost effective.
There are many careers that you can pursue with a degree in information assurance. The income level will depend on your job position, experience, degree, and location. Information security analysts made a median annual income of $88,890 in 2014 according to O*Net Online.