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The cyber security environment is changing particularly in the seriousness of threats and expansion of threats across varied industries. For example, cyber-attacks originally targeted government agencies or private companies, including major manufacturers. However, it was observed that there has been a sharp increase in cyber-attacks within educational institutions in recent years. The Cloud Threat Report 2021, a global study published by Palo Alto Networks, found that security losses from higher education institutions increased by 15 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2020.

As a result, there has been a growing interest in the cyber security industry and a need for cyber security personnel, particularly security engineers who are experts in information security. At the same time, the Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA) has announced a shortage of about 80,000 information security personnel in user companies across Japan.

This means that while cyber security isn’t the easiest profession to jump into, it is also considered relatively easier for those with no experience to start a career in the cyber security industry as the demand for it continues to rise. Individuals can start by acquiring specialist knowledge and skills within information security. In this article, we will explain the recommended courses within cyber security that you can study in Japan and for those outside of Japan who wish to study cyber security, there will be some certifications that you can also enrol yourself into.

 

Before we look at the cyber security courses and certifications, below are five main types of cyber security jobs in the industry to allow you to understand the sector better:

  • System administrator
  • Cyber forensic analyst
  • Incident responder
  • Security Engineer
  • Penetration tester

For each of the above-mentioned jobs, there are different academic disciplines that are either required from the get-go or may not be required till later.

In terms of choosing a university or graduate school, cyber security is still an emerging field of study and there are not many universities in Japan that offer it. Instead, newer universities specialising in technology, or IT may offer more specialised courses. Alternatively, graduate schools offer evening and online courses that are easier for working professionals to attend. Therefore, you should consider a graduate school based on its professors, researchers, and research contents, rather than the name of the university.

 

Top three cyber security disciplines and recommended universities

Here is a list of recommended universities, graduate schools and courses for cyber security related careers in three different fields.

1. Network Administration

The field of network administration, which involves the study of protocols, are actually communication control procedures and isn’t strictly for cyber security. It is however recommended for those who wish to become system administrators, which is a stepping stone to a career in the cyber security industry.

This includes the control of data path to a destination (e.g. retransmission of errors) such as terminals, and the control of timing to maintain the quality of image and voice services. It also covers the control of information transfer between applications such as email, web control and online transactions, which are electronic commerce. This is part of the research and development of control procedures at the higher levels of the hierarchical structure.

At the lower levels are parts related to materials and electricity, which are the infrastructure and are studied in the electrical and materials departments of the Faculty of Engineering. The infrastructure, which is the hardware (wires and radio waves), is also the subject of research in the field of telecommunications network engineering, which is mainly carried out in electrical engineering.

Challenges and trends

Current research focuses a lot on shifting to higher levels of the hierarchy and this area within information systems is becoming more widespread, as infrastructure research is increasingly included in network research. In recent years, there has been a growing trend to improve the functionality of a wide variety of devices such as cars, gaming devices and household appliances by connecting them to networks, including mobile phone networks. Research in the field of the Internet of Things (IoT) is the key to making the transmission of information over networks more frequent, faster, farther and more energy-efficient.

Recommended universities to study network management

2. Cyber security

Cyber security aims to prevent cybercrimes or cyber-attacks that happen through national and corporate networks as well as protect personal privacy. The basic technology of security consists of "cryptography" and "authentication". Cryptography is the technology to prevent information from being stolen by hacking or eavesdropping, and authentication is the technology of "personal authentication" to confirm that the information transmitted has not been tampered with in the process, and "message authentication" confirms that the sender of information is the person with whom communication is made. In addition to cryptography and authentication, cyber security technology can act as an important defence mechanism for firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention, and virus detection.

Challenges and trends

One of the biggest cyber security challenges today is dealing with "crypto-virus extortion", also known as cyber ransoms, where hackers demand a ransom from their victims. There is an urgent need to develop preventive measures against increasingly sophisticated attacks such as this ransomware.

Recommended universities to study cyber security

3. Information Science

Information Science is the study of "information" from an engineering point of view. Undergraduate and postgraduate faculties are divided into two groups: those in the humanities, which focus on research themes such as the transformation of society through information, and those in the sciences, which study the hardware and software that make up engineering programmes and computers. The science-based informatics departments are often branches of the engineering or science departments and include experiments and programming exercises as compulsory subjects.

Challenges and trends

Information Science and Technology (IS-Tech) is a fundamental technology that will play a key role in helping science and technology converge to solve a variety of social challenges in the future and is expected to play an even more sophisticated role. To achieve socially important tasks, the future use of IS-Tech will need:

  • Effective and efficient information collection including information aggregation, information integration, information management, information analysis, information distribution, information sharing systems, and accurate scientific analysis, clarification and prediction;
  • Enhancement of the functionality of IT systems and IT integrated technologies that can help to achieve tasks;
  • Ultra-low power consumption (green) of IT systems;
  • Improvement of the dependability of IT systems (systems that are resistant to disasters, etc.).

Recommended universities to study Information Science

In addition, the Graduate Institute of Information Security (specialising in security), Tokyo Denki University (Future Science Department, Faculty of Information and Media Studies, Security and Network), and Cyber University (IT General Faculty, Technology Course) are also famous for their strong research studies in general information security.

<Reference> If you are a working professional, we recommend you apply for the "Professional Practice Development Programme" accreditation system.

In response to the March 2015 Executive Council for Educational Revitalisation's "Sixth Proposal for Education to Realize a Society that Continues to Learn, a Society in which All Members Participate, and Regional Development", the programme aims to expand opportunities for working adults to improve their abilities necessary for their profession through programmes at universities, graduate schools, junior colleges, and colleges of technology. The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has decided to accredit practical and specialised programmes at universities and other institutions that meet the needs of working professionals and companies through "". Through this programme, MEXT aims to increase the visibility of options for working professionals to relearn, improve the attractiveness of programmes at universities and other institutions, and ultimately increase the understanding companies need to have.

Advantages of using the Practical Skills Development Programme accreditation system

The advantages of studying cyber security through the accreditation programme include the following:

  • By following a systematic university curriculum, students can acquire the skills required for the target job;
  • Education and training benefits as well as career development subsidies are available to cover part of the course fees for students and companies.

Examples of practical training programmes within cyber security

For ICT system administrators or developers and cyber security engineers, the programme provides education not only on cyber security technologies but also cover related fields such as law and ethics to foster highly skilled cyber security professionals.

Features of the cyber security programme

The cyber security programme consists of courses on cyber security law and ethics, incident response, cyber defence, etc., and includes classes by practitioners from related companies, group work and practical exercises.

  • Targeted at ICT system administrators and developers, etc.
  • Duration of the course: 1 year
  • The course is offered in the evenings and on weekends (long term courses are possible)
  • Partners companies include Security Measures Promotion Council, Mitsui Bussan Secure Direction Co., NTT West Corporation, The Graduate Institute of Information Security, etc.

Are you a professional within cyber security or looking for cyber security jobs?

The speed of IT evolution is only getting faster, and cyber-attacks are only becoming more sophisticated. In the future, companies will also start to become more conscious of their security measures if they have yet to do so. As a result, cyber security jobs will continue to rise. If you are interested in pursuing a career in cyber security, there are many opportunities to learn, regardless of the area of study you wish to acquire or your current working experience. We encourage you to consider the different options mentioned above.

If you would like to discuss the cyber security industry outlook and how it compares to other industries in terms of career progression, our specialist consultants will be able to help you via a confidential discussion. Or if you simply like to find out more about the job opportunities in cyber security or information security, please contact us using the form below.

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