Cyber Security vs. Software Engineering: Things to Consider While Choosing Your Path


When it comes to technological advancements, cyber security vs. software engineering are two of the most promising avenues. But it’s not always easy to tell one from the other, much less know which is the superior option in terms of a future profession.

Even while cybersecurity and software engineering work together frequently, the two fields are fundamentally different.

IT specialists specializing in cybersecurity design and implement embedded security systems, assess their vulnerabilities and counteract cyber attacks.

Software developers write code and put it into use. The best secure applications are designed by knowledgeable software engineers and guarded by stringent cyber hygiene procedures. Together, software developers and cybersecurity experts create reliable, safe programs.

This guide highlights the disparity between cybersecurity and software engineering, the employment options in each field, and the benefits of pursuing a master’s degree in either area.

The meaning of “Cybersecurity”

Cybersecurity refers to the subfield of computer science concerned with safeguarding networks from intrusion. Knowing how computers, networks, and personal information are stored and shared calls for advanced technical knowledge. Cybersecurity specialists may specialize in developing new platforms and applications, conducting penetration tests on existing networks, or providing incident response.

Career cyber security is essential for the protection of a company’s IT systems. Every sector needs cybersecurity, from healthcare and finance to government at all levels and even the fitness and hotel industries. It shields sensitive information against hackers and other online dangers in the form of digital files, programs, and infrastructure.

Various Cybersecurity Concentrations

The term “cybersecurity” and its meaning have evolved alongside the expanding scope of the internet. Rapid technological advancements have led to the emergence of various specialized subfields within the expansive realm of cyber security.

Cyber security careers and jobs in the cybersecurity industry that contribute to our and our systems’ safety include the following.

Critical infrastructure security focuses on safeguarding vital sectors such as education, agriculture, water supply, public transportation, power, and financial services, all of which are considered part of critical infrastructure.

Application security – the process of identifying, resolving, and avoiding vulnerabilities in software programs

Policies, processes, and practices designed to detect and monitor unwanted access or misuse of a network are the backbone of network security.

Security in the cloud – protecting computer systems, networks, and data when using remote servers – is an essential part of using the internet. Protecting the data, applications, services, and infrastructure of cloud-based systems entails a wide range of policies, technologies, applications, and controls.

Standardization and guidelines for protecting cloud-connected systems, such as smart home gadgets, are developed as part of the Internet of Things (IoT) security field.

Cybersecurity Job Duties

There is a wide variety of opportunities available in the field of cybersecurity for anyone interested in pursuing a career in this area.

The need for cybersecurity professionals is great. While the mentioned occupations provide a general idea of your workday, remember that your actual duties depend on the specific position you choose. The realm of cybersecurity offers a range of options, such as developing secure platforms, identifying weaknesses in systems, addressing threats, and establishing comprehensive policies for larger infrastructures.

What is Software Engineering?

In software engineering, you’ll be tasked with creating and sustaining many types of software. These systems, which include software, apps, websites, and even video games, are becoming increasingly important in people’s daily lives. Software engineering career paths and software engineering career include the following:

Software engineers are needed in every sector of the economy. It serves as the backbone of many other departments, and keeping up with technological developments is crucial for success. Software engineers are in high demand because they can respond quickly, efficiently, and effectively to the technological needs of businesses, enterprises, and organizations.

Extending the Boundaries of Software Engineering

As a discipline, software engineering covers a lot of ground. Software engineering encompasses the entire spectrum of computer science, from systems programming to data structures and algorithms to cloud computing and communications to web development. Different kinds of software engineering include the following:

Computer and mobile app creation that serves a specific purpose, including Microsoft Word and Excel, Spotify, Zoom, Slack, and web browsers, is known as application software development.
System software development is the process of making software that runs on computers and other devices. During development, this usually includes consideration of the necessary hardware and software.

Programming locations, characters, and conversation is all part of video game creation, which aims to provide an immersive and interesting gaming experience for the player. This entails programming all the elements that contribute to the user’s actual gaming.
A web application’s full functionality, from the user’s perspective through to the inner workings of the application, is the result of a process known as “full-stack engineering.”
Job Implications of Software Development
Skills in software engineering, like those in cybersecurity, are in high demand. Engineers in this field are responsible for not only assessing user needs but also analyzing and improving preexisting software, designing, developing, and testing programs to suit those needs.

Programmers have varying preferences: some enjoy full project involvement, while others specialize in specific areas of the codebase. Similarly, software engineers can opt for internal tasks like back-end development or more public-facing roles such as user experience. You’ll find a combination of the two frequently!

Cybersecurity Education Curriculum

Most employers in the cybersecurity industry prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related discipline.

However, if you want to be more competitive in the job market and earn a higher salary, a master’s degree in computer science or a specialist degree in cybersecurity is the way to go. Obtaining a master’s degree in cybersecurity is a great way to set yourself apart in a competitive job market.

Students who complete a master’s degree program in cybersecurity will learn the skills necessary to ensure the safety of a company’s data systems, networks, and applications.
Courses in Harvard Extension School’s graduate-level cybersecurity curriculum include:

  • Tips for Evaluating and Discussing Cybersecurity Dangers
  • Cloud and IoT Cryptography and Identities
  • Computer Organization and Program Structure
  • You can tailor your education to your specific interests and career goals by adding certifications or advanced degrees, such as the Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity or the Graduate Certificate in Programming.

Software Engineering Degree Programs

Just as in cybersecurity, a master’s degree is helpful for most software engineering career paths.

For instance, Harvard Extension School’s software engineering graduate program teaches students to apply systematic engineering principles in designing, building, and maintaining large-scale software programs across diverse sectors.

Examples of Coursework:

Introduction to Discrete Mathematics, Data Structures, and Algorithms for Computer Science
Services, Infrastructure, and Computing in the Cloud
You could want to look into a graduate certificate in data science, a certificate in back-end web development, or a certificate in cyber security.

Which Master’s Degree, Cybersecurity or Software Engineering, Should You Get?

Expert software developers and cyber security analysts are in extremely high demand. More rapid technological advancement places a premium on highly trained specialists.

A bachelor’s degree is typically required for entry-level positions in cyber security and software engineering, but a master’s degree opens up further opportunities for career growth. With a master’s degree, you can increase your earning potential, expand your skill set, and pursue diverse career paths in various fields.

What Profession Should You Pursue?

Ultimately, the choice between cybersecurity and software engineering depends on your personality and skill set. To learn more about what a master’s degree in cybersecurity or software engineering entails, read our blog post on selecting the appropriate graduate school.