The difference between network security vs. cyber security isn’t always transparent. In the age of cyber threats and cyber attacks, it is now more important than ever to understand how to protect yourself and your business from potential cyber threats.
While cyber security and network security may sound like similar terms, they are not. Generally speaking, both cyber security and network security are subsets of information security aiming to block access to unauthorized users. They both, however, work in conjunction with one another to protect online users against potential threats and digital attacks.
Read on below to learn just what cyber and network security are, the similarities they contain, as well as their differences.
Back to Basics: What is Information Security?
Before diving in, let’s quickly discuss just what information security is. Essentially, information security operates as protection against the unauthorized access or use of information. It refers to any preventative measures taken to combat this phenomenon.
Of course, as security personnel become more sophisticated in their efforts to combat cybercriminals, so too do the crimes. Concerns over data breaches now extend to cyber warfare and cyber-terrorism.
Research suggests that countries and businesses continue to adopt remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend has opened the door to criminals targeting businesses often unequipped to combat growing security threats. According to a 2021 Cyber Security Trends Report, cybercrime has increased by a staggering 600% since the pandemic first broke.
What is Cyber Security?
When it comes to cyber security vs. network security, one could look at cyber security as more of the “umbrella” of the two fields. Cyber security deals with the realm of protecting internet-connected systems, their respective networks, and other items, including applications.
Preventing Unauthorized Access
Cyber security professionals monitor systems for any unauthorized electronic access via incoming or outgoing data. Sensitive data and other sensitive information are everywhere online these days. Some of the emerging threats in cyberspace include phishing emails and other virus links that prey on unsuspecting people surfing the web.
The cyber security professional serves to combat these threats and protect the individual from potential cyber-attacks.
What is Network Security?
Network security is simply one of the subsets of cyber security. Network security concerns itself primarily with the protection of digital data sent between devices on a given network.
The job of a network security professional revolves around protecting a company or organization’s information technology or IT infrastructure.
Network security professionals typically take on other tasks to secure the network security system, including setting up firewalls, running antivirus software, and creating virtual private networks. An organization’s network is often its lifeblood.
The network security professional ensures that the network security measures remain in top shape so that connectivity and productivity are not interrupted and establishes preventative measures to combat unauthorized access.
Similarities and Differences Between Cyber Security and Network Security
The leading similarity between cybersecurity and network security revolves around a singular mission to protect company information. In this regard, both of these entities are aimed squarely at security infrastructure. Additional similarities include:
- Both cyber and network security aim to establish secure operating systems and ensure the continued safety of digital data.
- Both cyber and network security are subsets of information security.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), information security analysts from both divisions stand to earn over $100,000 per year.
- Employment among both forms of security is expected to balloon by 31% over the next few years – a figure that far exceeds those projected for other professions.
If we lean on sports as a metaphor, we can think of a cyber security professional as someone who plays defense while network security professionals stick to offense. Listed below are a few specific differences between cybersecurity and network security:
- Cyber security protection revolves around detection, recovery, and response. Network security focuses on preventing access to IT infrastructure through data encryption, password security, and other security measures.
- Cyber security aims to protect all digital data, while network security seeks to protect transit data only.
- Network security includes viruses and worms while cyber security is more involved in phishing and pre-texting.
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.
Both cyber security and network security play a vital role in safeguarding organizations and information. Hackers worldwide look to exploit vulnerabilities in information systems, which results in data breaches and other unauthorized outside access.
Cyber security is a subset of information security, and network security is primarily a subset of cyber security. The two forms of defense work together to help protect against potential cyberattacks. While cyber security works in the lane of damage control, network security professionals are always thinking of preventing the next possible attack.
Companies worldwide are hiring security professionals to help safeguard confidential information and other sensitive data. They can provide the technical expertise necessary to combat cybercriminals and protect systems before a breach has even occurred.
If you’re interested in learning more about information security, look into the IT certification programs from ICOHS College. We offer specialty programs to prepare students for careers as network specialists and system administrators. Students will receive the necessary skills to gain the following industry certifications:
Scholarships and title IV funding are available for IT and other programs. Give us a call at (858) 581-9460 or email us to learn more about financial assistance. Students can also enjoy our career counseling services to help them find a job after their program comes to an end. All graduates of ICOHS College maintain access to lifetime job placement assistance.
Is network security or cyber security better for a career?
Both career fields are incredibly rewarding and in high demand. Cyber security remains more defense-oriented, while network security focuses more heavily on protective software and prevention. Both forms of security have high earning potential and offer high levels of job security.
Is network security a good career?
Network security can make for a great career! Most network security analysts around the country earn over six figures in annual income. Many professionals choose to advance their careers by becoming network engineers. You can achieve this status by earning a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or information systems.
What is an entry-level position in information security?
The most entry-level job in any information security field is an Information Security Analyst. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this position carries an average annual pay of $103,590 per year, requires a bachelor’s degree and less than five years of work experience.
What kind of bachelor’s degree do security professionals need?
Degrees in computer science, information assurance, programming, and coding are helpful when pursuing a career in information security.