Cyber operations evolve as an interdisciplinary major that covers the whole cyber space activities and that requires skills from different disciplines such as cyber and network security, data analytics, software engineering, computing architectures, and operating systems.
There are also knowledge required to understand humans (e.g., users, attackers, hackers) behaviors, mindsets, and related human and social aspects.
In the USA, this major is witnessing a staggering job demands in both public and private sectors. Courses and training in cyber operations start to grow from government and military sectors to Universities and private sectors.
Many of the jobs offered in this area require certain levels of clearance even at the private sector.
The knowledge and skills in cyber operations span the life cycle of three major entities:
Including the stages of creating analyzing and reverse engineering malwares.
How attacks are created, initiated, launched, and analyzed. Cyber operations student should be able to switch between the defense and offense roles.
When the student is learning the roles of the defense team, they need to learn how to prevent against attacks, how to stop attacks in real time, and how to analyze launched attacks and learn to protect systems in future.
When they masquerade the offense roles, they need to learn and practice how to start attacks and find weaknesses in systems, software, networks, etc., how to maintain those attacks and protect or hide their attacks and identities.
Systems and assets:
Cyber operations’ students should learn about the different systems and assets that they need to protect. They need to understand them thoroughly from a defender perspective.
They will learn for example penetration testing methods and how to screen the different systems for possible vulnerabilities. They need also to learn about the different types of security controls (e.g., firewalls, IDS/IPS.). They need to learn how to program those security controls, update them, etc.
Different programs in cyber operations have different focuses. Below are some of the most popular sub-areas that fall within this major:
Offensive cyber operations.
Defensive cyber operations.
Cyber threat intelligence.
Software security analysis and exploitation.
Networking and digital forensics.
Cyber laws: Legal and ethical issues
Cyber operations can be divided into: (1) exploitation and (2) attack.
Cyber exploitation which includes activities such as to identify theft or theft of information and denial of service attacks.
Cyber-attacks which include serious cyber offensive operations that can cause serious destructions or impacts (Hilfiker 2013).
Cyber operations can also be divided into three categories: Access operations, disrupting operations, and attack operations.