Online bachelor's and master's degree programs in information assurance are commonly offered through colleges and universities. Students in these programs learn how to set-up and maintain cutting-edge information security systems. While some programs are offered fully online, others are offered in a blended format that includes hands-on labs and a field experience. To apply, prospective students may need to have a related undergraduate degree and relevant work experience. Alternatively, interested students can take free non-credit courses, which are also available online via government agencies and private organizations.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
This program is commonly offered online as a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (IT) with a concentration in information security or assurance. Some online bachelor's degree programs may require applicants to have a relevant associate degree, related work experience or have completed a few undergraduate courses in networking, operating systems, object-oriented programming or information assurance. Students who possess existing information technology certifications may be able to waive certain course requirements.
Most information assurance degree programs teach standards established by the U.S. Department of Defense. Students learn about firewalls, intrusion detection and disaster recovery. Common courses include:
- Discrete structures
- Web administration
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Master's Degree Programs
Computer science and security professionals interested in online information assurance training might want to consider a Master of Science in Information Assurance (MSIA). To enroll in an MSIA degree program students must have a bachelor's degree in a technical field, such as computer science or electrical engineering.
MSIA degrees can be completed entirely online, although most programs require students to appear on campus for advising once a semester. Students attempting to earn a master's degree online are expected to create a dissertation based on original research.
Information assurance graduate degree programs provide students with a comprehensive education of advanced information security concepts. Master's candidates in MSIA programs take courses in security systems, database management and risk management. Course topics include:
- Wireless networks
- White collar crimes
- Network security
- Digital rights
Online degree programs in information assurance require students to complete assignments and lectures on their own schedule. Some programs require examinations be taken at a testing center or on campus. Many information assurance courses offered online incorporate group discussions conducted on forums and message boards.
Free Continuing Education Programs
The importance of information assurance in relation to computer security has increased the number of online training programs offered by non-profit organizations and governments. Consequently, interested individuals can enroll in free online programs that don't award degrees or certificates. Most students interested in online information assurance training programs are industry professionals who often hold a degree in computer science.
These online programs use interactive tutorials and lectures to help students learn the fundamentals of information assurance. Students learn basic concepts of computer and information security. Classes focus on topics like transmission control protocol (TCP), router defense and remote access security. Other course topics may include:
- Removable storage media
- Anti-phishing security
- Internet infrastructure
- Securing mobile networks
Overall, online courses and degree programs that cover information assurance provide essential training in computer security. A bachelor's degree is designed to provide an overview of the field of IT, which includes information assurance, while a master's degree can enable experienced IT professionals to redirect their careers toward the prevention of cyber crime.