Cyber Security vs Network Security: What’s the Difference?

February 8, 2021

Do you know the difference between Cyber Security and Network Security?

If you want a career in IT, understanding this difference is a good place to start. Maybe you want an IT security career because you’ve always been fascinated by technology and you love the ongoing challenge of trying to outsmart hackers. Maybe you chose this career because it’s no secret that the IT job field is thriving. Either way, IT security is a large and varied field, so it helps to narrow your focus.

Two types of IT security careers are Cyber Security and Network Security. What’s the difference between these two options and how do you choose one or other?


The Difference Between Cyber Security and Network Security

While cyber security and network security are both critical to many businesses, organizations, and government bodies, they have slightly different areas of focus. Cyber security is digital security for web-connected devices. For example, when someone tries to hack into your email by breaking your password, that would be a cyber security issue.

Network security focuses on security for interconnected networks of computers, internal servers, and other devices within a singular network. For example, controlling who within a company has access to sensitive files will fall under the category of network security.

In reality, cyber security and network security often overlap. For instance, a web-based attack could allow someone to get inside your network and from there, they could manipulate other devices within that network. To prevent situations like this, a cyber security professional would need to detect and block that web-based attack while the network security professional configures the network in a way that blocks a hacker from moving throughout the network with ease.

While network security and cyber security are closely related, each is its own specialized niche. As you’re building your career, it helps to know which specialty you prefer so you can steer your training and your expertise in that direction.


Daily Goals and Challenges of Cyber Security vs Network Security

When you weigh your career options, it helps to consider what your daily work will be like and whether you would enjoy that type of work on a daily basis. Let’s examine some of the most common tasks that each of these jobs may include.

As a network security professional, you’ll focus largely on the IT infrastructure of your employer’s network. Each network is unique, so you may be managing different types of devices and configurations. Regardless, your job could include tasks such as:

  • Managing connections between devices in the network
  • Running intermittent tests to look for security risks in the network
  • Managing each device or team member’s access to files, directories, and devices
  • Identifying the best security software and other tools to protect the network

While a network security professional is securing the connections and pathways within the network, a cyber security professional focuses more on protecting the organization from outside invaders. For example, your job may include:

  • Setting up tools and testing to detect suspicious activity that could signal an attack
  • Continuously updating software to close potential security holes
  • Educating colleagues about how to safeguard their own security, such as identifying and avoiding phishing emails and keeping their passwords secure
  • Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends in hacking and creating solutions to prevent cyber criminals from using those tactics to gain access

Both of these sets of responsibilities are important for an organization’s overall security. In the end, the choice will largely come down to your personal interests and the aspects of security that you enjoy most.


What Is the Career Outlook for Cyber Security and Network Security Analysts?

Any time you choose a career, it helps to consider the financial aspects of the career path as well as the opportunities for growth that it could offer. In the case of cyber security vs. network security, the difference is minimal because both have terrific outlooks for the future.

Both cyber security and network security are in high demand, and they both carry strong salaries as well. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics groups them together with the title “information security analyst,” listing the median salary as just under $100,000 per year.  The future prospects for your career are extremely strong as well. According to the BLS, the expected job growth throughout this decade is 31%, which is extremely high.

As lucrative as a career in either cyber security or network security can be, it’s also important to consider the professional development opportunities that each can bring as well. In this case, the advancement opportunities are similar in both specialties. Depending on how your employer’s team is structured, you can advance from a technician or analyst to a manager, potentially leading up to a senior executive position such as Director of Security or Chief Information Security Officer.


How to Become a Cyber Security or Network Security Professional

Because there is so much overlap in the knowledge and responsibilities of a cyber security professional and a network security professional, your path toward launching a career is similar in both cases. Rather than a four-year degree, you can begin your career with a quicker technical training program.

For instance, we offer two IT programs to set you up for a technology-focused career: IT Systems Administrator and IT Network Specialist. Both of these programs educate you on the essentials of IT systems and networks. They’ll prepare you for the key credentials you’ll need in order to get a job in the field: the right IT certifications. In the case of both cyber security and network security, you’ll need the CompTIA Security+ certification as well as CompTIA Network+, and the Cisco CCNA will open doors as well.


Starting Your Cyber Security or Network Security Career?

If you’re ready to launch your career in either cyber security or network security, getting started may be easier than you think. Learn about our IT Network Specialist training program and our IT Systems Administrator program to decide the best one for your career goals and apply today.

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