Why Everyone Should Learn Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics

Everyone should learn and become skilled in cybersecurity and computer science technology. It’s not just to get work in cybersecurity, although that is an option, but these skills are vital in any profession today.

Why? Because just about every possible career requires the use of computers, software, programs, applications, internet access, databases and data. In order to perform almost any job, it requires skills in all those areas.

So, How Does Training in Cybersecurity Help?

Cybersecurity and computer forensics are skills that are developed by testing, logic, cause and effect, investigation and procedures. These skills can be applied to learning the operating systems that run computers, commercial and open source software, database management and open source intelligence, among others.

This is great if you want to work in cybersecurity or computer programming. But, how can training in cybersecurity be useful in, say, the marketing profession?

It would seem like a bit of a stretch that cybersecurity and computer forensics would be a valuable field of study for marketing professionals. But, it is, and I can attest to that personally.

How Cybersecurity Training Made Me Better at Marketing

After working in publishing and marketing for many years, I decided to pursue my Master’s degree in Cybersecurity. This was a field of interest to me and I thought that maybe I could work in the cybersecurity industry.

I earned my Master’s from Utica College and learned the procedures for computer forensics, open source intelligence, coding, operating systems and installing and using many different, commercial and open source, programs to perform cyber and forensics tasks, such as WireShark, Kali Linux, and many more. The program required a lot of detailed technical writing.

As a result of all the technical writing, I became a writer and correspondent for opensource.com, writing about open source software and methodology. That connected my backgrounds in publishing, writing, cybersecurity and open source software. I even self-published my Capstone, which tied in my publishing, graphic design, open source and cybersecurity training into one project.

In addition to learning and using these cyber-specific programs, I learned how to use, and how to better use, many familiar programs, such as Excel, Word, Notepad, Acrobat, and many open source alternatives, such as LibreOffice, Scribus, Blender and many more. I learned how to use these programs on Windows, MacOS and Linux, as well as the Command Line Interface and creating virtual machines.

Another result of this training is it enabled me to become the “tech expert” for friends, family and community. Although it’s not a job, it is gratifying to be called upon by a family member who has some computer or software-related issue and I can almost always fix the problem, even from afar. Learning cybersecurity and computer forensics makes one a hero (at least to family!)

So, How Does Any of This Apply to Marketing?

Marketing, publishing, graphic design is all created on computers, using a variety of programs, file formats, operating systems and basic forensic knowledge.

For instance: I was handed a DVD by the editor of a magazine I worked for. It had many files on it and he needed them extracted to update a book that had been published years earlier.

There were many different file formats present, including many that were not apparent by looking at the directory. The files with extensions of .JPG, .TIF, .EPS were obviously images.

But, what about the files that were listed as “Unix Executable File”? That is where I was able to change hats from graphic design production manager to computer forensics guy.

The files showed up in my Mac’s Finder as black boxes, with no indication of what they were.

I opened the files with a hex editor. I used Online Hex Editor to perform this function. A hex editor is a computer forensics tool that examines the basic code of a file and is useful in identifying what a file is and what data is contained in it. There is a series of hexadecimal characters at the beginning of the file that identify the type. Gary Kessler’s file format guide is a good place unlock the code to figure out what the files are.

The mystery files turned out to be old QuarkXPress files. Kessler’s guide confirmed that. Now knowing that, I was able to convert the QuarkXPress files to InDesign using Markzware’s QX2ID plug-in.

Thanks to my training in cybersecurity and computer forensics, I was able to successfully complete these tasks — in a marketing setting. The same could be true for just about any other profession where data is stored and used in the business.

Everyone Uses Excel, Right?

These skills can be applied to just about any profession. How many jobs are there that do not require the use of Excel, Word, PDF, internet applications, database programs, or even simple computer operations?

These are specific skills that should be learned in addition to the wider cybersecurity and computer forensics field of knowledge.

There are many ways someone can learn these skills. You could take some low-cost online classes, specific to a program, like “Learn Excel,” or “Database Management.” You could learn on your own by just using the programs and referring to the “Help” menu. You can pursue a degree or certification through a college. Learning the basics of cybersecurity, computer forensics and computer science at a community college is a great way to start. That gives you a firm footing in the field and then you can transfer to a Bachelor’s degree, and maybe even a Master’s or Doctorate. Pick up certifications along the way and you’ll be an expert in no time. Learning cybersecurity, computer forensics, computer science and related programs does take patience, concentration, diligence and a lot of trial and error. It’s not always easy, but once you figure something out, it’s like solving a very difficult puzzle and is very satisfying.

No matter what profession or career you pursue, you will absolutely need to have skills in computer operations. Following a path in cybersecurity and computer forensics does provide the foundation you can then build upon, whether it be teaching, business, office management, health care, engineering, marketing, or just about anything — computer operations knowledge is critical in most cases.

Learn More About Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics

Contact your local community college to learn more about their cybersecurity and computer science programs and start learning today for the skills you’ll need tomorrow.

Jeff Macharyas is the Director of Marketing at SUNY Corning Community College, in New York. He holds a Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity and Computer Forensics from Utica College.