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ADP Users Hit with Phishing Scam Ahead of Tax Season

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Fraudulent emails tell recipients their W-2 forms are ready and prompt them to click malicious links.

Cybercriminals eager to jump-start tax season have launched a phishing campaign targeting some ADP users, telling them their W-2 forms are ready and prompting them to click a malicious link.

Links embedded in the fraudulent email redirect users to a phishing website designed to look like an ADP login page. These domains were registered the same day as the attack, note AppRiver researchers who discovered the campaign. From there, attackers can steal the ADP usernames and passwords of unsuspecting victims who fall into the trap.

With an employee’s ADP credentials in hand, an attacker can commit any number of malicious activities. They could possibly expose bank account numbers or change their direct deposit information and redirect payments to attacker-controlled accounts, a potentially lucrative tactic if the employer doesn’t require two-factor authentication (2FA) for this type of important change.

An attacker could also access a range of personal data including name, birth date, physical address, pay stubs, or Social Security number — all the information they’d need to commit identity theft. They could also locate an employee’s tax documents, which could be used to file fraudulent tax returns on the worker’s behalf and redirect the funds to attackers’ accounts.

As tax season approaches, Troy Gill, manager of security research at AppRiver, advises employees to keep in mind that the IRS will never require you to take action via email. All documentation should be handled with caution: When you receive an alert that tax documents are available, directly navigate to the source instead of following an emailed link. And, of course, enable 2FA whenever possible.

Read more details here.

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Cyber Security

Cybersecurity Degrees in Massachusetts — Your Guide to Choosing a School

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This guide provides a quick overview of Massachusetts’ cybersecurity colleges. Other cybersecurity training resources, such as online degrees and certification programmes, are included in the guide.

Massachusetts is best known for Boston, Cape Cod, and Martha’s Vineyard, but the tiny northeastern state has much more economic clout than its small size suggests.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, also known as The Bay State, has by far the largest economy in New England. While its centuries-old and thriving shipping industry contributes to its strength, the state has reinvented its economy many times over the years.

It now has vibrant business communities in the fields of technology, finance, healthcare, education, and tourism. The Boston metropolitan area, which includes world-class healthcare and higher education institutions, accounts for roughly 80% of the state’s economy.

State authorities have long assumed that Massachusetts will play a leading role in whatever social and economic patterns are shaping society as a whole. It was technology and healthcare in the late twentieth century. Later on, the state was at the forefront of environmental reform and, most recently, universal healthcare insurance.

One of the state’s main goals right now is to become a leading force in cybersecurity, both in terms of its own planning and in terms of attracting the best cybersecurity minds and businesses to call Massachusetts home. Although Massachusetts’ long and illustrious past is often discussed, its present and future in the field of cybersecurity appear to be very promising.

Table of Contents

Growing importance of cybersecurity in Massachusetts

Healthcare and financial services have long been two of Massachusetts’ most powerful economic powers. They’re also one of the most common targets for cyber criminals these days. The state of Massachusetts is home to 12 Fortune 500 firms. State Street Corp., Liberty Mutual, and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company are three of the financial intermediaries. In addition, the state is a hotbed for venture capitalists.

In the late twentieth century, Massachusetts made a concerted effort to attract technology companies of all kinds and establish itself as a technology hub. The efforts yielded positive results. General Electric, Boston Scientific, Raytheon, Biogen, and Thermo Fisher Scientific are among the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Massachusetts.

In recent years, the state government has made efforts to educate government employees and people about the dangers of information security. It has also provided educational services to assist local governments in protecting their structures and data. In September 2017, it also launched MassCyberCenter. Its goal is to ensure that citizens and businesses in the state are prepared for cyber threats, as well as to nurture the state’s cybersecurity ecosystem and place it as a leading provider of information security services and study.

Cybersecurity education in Massachusetts

As the state government works to place Massachusetts as a cybersecurity pioneer, new educational opportunities are emerging. The number of high-quality higher-education institutions in Massachusetts, especially in the Boston area, is one of the major draws for students. Several prestigious universities, including Harvard, Worcester Polytechnic, and Northeastern, are located in this area. All three of these universities have established cybersecurity degree programmes.

Although the number of degree and credential programmes available in Massachusetts is not overwhelming, students do have a lot of choices. Both Harvard and Northeastern are completely committed to training the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. There are also a number of other well-known institutions in the mix.

Whatever degree path students select, they will enter a rapidly expanding job market with an insufficient number of eligible applicants for open positions.

ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE

The cybersecurity job market is rapidly changing, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees are in higher demand than ever.

Associate’s degrees, on the other hand, have a place in the sector, thanks to a lack of trained cybersecurity practitioners. There are many entry-level work opportunities that only require an associate’s degree, which can help those who don’t have the time or money to complete a bachelor’s degree get a foot in the door.

Associate’s degree coursework can be applied as credit for a bachelor’s degree, reducing the time and resources needed to complete a four-year degree.

Campus-based associate’s degrees in Massachusetts

At the moment, four colleges deliver associate’s degrees in cybersecurity through campus-based programmes. In the table below, these are mentioned.

Online associate’s degrees in Massachusetts

Associate’s degrees in cybersecurity are also available online for those who prefer a more flexible option than attending classes on campus. However, in Massachusetts, there are currently only two such choices.

  • An associate of science degree in cybersecurity is available online via Massachusetts Bay Community College.
  • Quinsigamond Community College offers a computer science engineering technology associate’s degree online with a forensics programme.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE

Bachelor’s degrees are now necessary for the majority of information security jobs. Although a degree in almost any technology or STEM discipline is usually appropriate, cybersecurity degrees give applicants an advantage. And, as master’s degrees and Ph.D.s become more in demand from cybersecurity employers, a bachelor’s degree is usually needed to apply for postgraduate degrees.

Campus-based bachelor’s degrees in Massachusetts

At the time of publication, five different Massachusetts colleges offered five different bachelor’s degree programmes. Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Northeastern University are the frontrunners in this party. The complete list can be found below.

Online bachelor’s degrees in Massachusetts

There is currently only one online choice for obtaining a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree in Massachusetts. This Bay State University programme offers a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a focus on digital forensics and cybersecurity.

MASTER’S DEGREE

Master’s degrees in cybersecurity are becoming more popular, and for senior cybersecurity practitioners in a corporate environment, they are unquestionably the preferred route. Many employers are also demanding master’s degrees for advanced information security positions, such as Chief Information Security Officer. Master’s degrees are also widely recommended for careers in cybersecurity consulting, academia, or study for those destined for non-corporate environments. Continuing on to a Ph.D. would, of course, help advance an infosec career even more.

Campus-based master’s degrees in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has six campus-based cybersecurity master’s degree programmes, as shown in the table below. Boston University offers four of these options. Northeastern University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute offer the other two programmes. The table below contains more detail on these degree choices.

Online master’s degrees in Massachusetts

Master’s degrees in cybersecurity are also available via online delivery at Massachusetts colleges. There are currently six online options available from reputable institutions, the most well-known of which is Harvard. For more detail and links, see the sections below.

Ph.D. DEGREES

Currently, only one Massachusetts university offers a cybersecurity Ph.D. programme. A Ph.D. in computer science with a cybersecurity emphasis is available on campus at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. There are currently no Ph.D. programmes for cybersecurity practitioners offered by Massachusetts institutions.

CERTIFICATIONS

Some cybersecurity certifications are intended to include an introduction to information protection and, in some cases, a foot in the door, or at the very least, a stepping stone toward a degree. Other credential programmes are designed for cybersecurity professionals who want to advance their education or even replace a full advanced degree. Massachusetts learning institutions offer all types of qualifications, with a focus on specialised certificates.

Campus-based cybersecurity certifications in Massachusetts

Massachusetts colleges offer seven different cybersecurity certification options. For more statistics, see the table below.

Online cybersecurity certifications in Massachusetts

Massachusetts colleges offer nine certification programmes that can be completed entirely online. The following are some of them:

Cybersecurity jobs in Massachusetts

Massachusetts and New York stand out as cybersecurity hotspots in the Northeast United States. Massachusetts makes up for its lack of physical size with economic clout. One of the reasons for the importance of cybersecurity is the economy’s emphasis. According to research conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare and education organisations were by far the biggest employers in the state in 2019. Because of the vast amount of personal and sensitive information they collect and store, healthcare organisations have become a favourite target for hackers. Technical and business services, which are also abundant sources of confidential data, are Massachusetts’ second largest job market.

The state of Massachusetts, like the rest of the world, is suffering from a cybersecurity skills shortage. According to Cyberseek, Massachusetts had just over 25,000 people working in cybersecurity-related jobs from October 2018 to September 2019, with around 13,400 cybersecurity work vacancies posted by Bay State employers. More than 11,600 of those jobs were in the Boston metropolitan area. Boston is home to a large number of health and educational institutions, as well as being the Northeast’s second largest financial hub after New York City.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, cybersecurity analysts in Massachusetts receive an average hourly wage of $52.11 and an annual income of $108,400 as of May 2018. Both wage rates are far higher than the national average. The high cost of living and high tax burden in Massachusetts are the only drawbacks. Both are among the country’s best. Nonetheless, there will be plenty of lucrative job opportunities in Massachusetts, especially in the Boston area, for many years to come.

The following job titles are at the top of the list of cybersecurity job titles in Massachusetts:

  • Cybersecurity Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Analyst
  • Cybersecurity Administrator/Manager
  • Software Developer/Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Consultant
  • Penetration Tester/Vulnerability Assessor
  • Network Engineer/Architect
  • Systems Engineer
  • IT Auditor

Cybersecurity in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has always defied its small scale, even when it was a colony, and has been a major economic power. Despite the apparent benefit of having access to the Atlantic Ocean, the citizens of Massachusetts continue to adopt a leadership mentality. Today, the Commonwealth is focused on becoming a cybersecurity pioneer, and there is no reason to suspect that it will succeed.

There are plenty of highly respected, if not prestigious, colleges and universities in the state that can train and educate tomorrow’s cybersecurity leaders. And the government is fully committed to developing the technologies and capacity needed to protect Massachusetts’ data. There is still a shortage of skilled professionals, as there is anywhere else, and demand is increasing rapidly.

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Source: https://cybersguards.com/cybersecurity-degrees-in-massachusetts-your-guide-to-choosing-a-school/

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U.S. and the U.K. Published Attack on IT Management Company SolarWinds

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On Friday, US and UK government agencies released a joint report with more information on the activities of the Russian cyberspy community suspected of being behind the attack on IT management firm SolarWinds. After some of their operations were revealed, the hackers began using the open-source adversary simulation system Sliver, according to the paper.

The SolarWinds attack was carried out by the Russian threat actor APT29 (also known as the Dukes, Cozy Bear, and Yttrium), according to the FBI, NSA, CISA, and the UK’s NCSC. The SolarWinds attack resulted in hundreds of organisations’ systems being breached by malicious updates served from compromised SolarWinds systems.

The agencies have previously released numerous reports on the activities of the organisation, which they say is under the control of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR.

The new report provides further information on the cyberspies’ strategies, methods, and procedures (TTPs), as well as some of the improvements made by the community in response to previous studies.

Last year, government agencies identified APT29 operations targeting organisations involved in SARSCoV2 coronavirus vaccine research and development in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Malware such as WellMess and WellMail were used in the attacks.

The hackers started using an open-source platform called Sliver to retain access to existing WellMess and WellMail victims after their activity targeting vaccine makers was exposed.

Bishop Fox, an aggressive security assessment agency, created Sliver as a legitimate tool. It’s billed as an adversary simulation and red team tool that companies can use to conduct security testing.

SVR operators also used separate command and control infrastructure for each victim of Sliver, as found in the SolarWinds incidents, the agencies said.

The Snort and Yara rules in the study are aimed at assisting danger hunters in detecting Sliver. The agencies cautioned, however, that since Sliver is a legal penetration testing tool, its existence does not inherently imply an APT29 assault.

APT29 has started exploiting CVE-2021-21972, according to the latest cybersecurity advisory, which lists nearly a dozen vulnerabilities that have been exploited by the community. VMware’s vCenter Server product is vulnerable to this crucial flaw. In February, organisations were alerted that hackers had begun searching the internet for compromised servers just one day after VMware declared the patches’ availability.

APT29 has reportedly begun searching for Microsoft Exchange servers that have been compromised by the vulnerabilities that have been abused by several threat groups over the last two months.

The study also details the effect of the attack on email security firm Mimecast, which was carried out as a result of the SolarWinds hack.

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Source: https://cybersguards.com/u-s-and-the-u-k-published-attack-on-it-management-company-solarwinds/

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Privacy Protection: How Secure is Telegram Messenger?

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@janhajekJan Hajek

Develop websites and blogs as a hobby. Once bought 250 domains and still don’t know what to do with them.

Telegram is a cross-platform, cloud-based instant messenger that is available for free. End-to-end secure video communication, VoIP, file sharing, and various other functionality are also accessible. First released for iOS on August 14, 2013, and for Android in October 2013, Telegram messenger is a basic instant messaging app that is quick, convenient, efficient, and can sync across all user’s devices. With over 500 million daily users, it is one of the top ten most downloaded applications in the world. According to the developers of telegram messenger, it is a secure and easy-to-use application. Telegram features such as media, groups, and chat are encrypted with a combination of 256-bit symmetric AES encryption algorithm, 2048-bit RSA encryption, and secure Diffie–Hellman key exchange.

Is Telegram Secure?

Exploring the security perspective of messengers, we focus on technologies that are secure by default. Although Telegram supports end-to-end encryption (E2E), it must be enabled on a conversation-by-conversation basis by using a secret chat. As a result, Telegram’s default conversations are much less secure.

Telegram explains the reason for this opt-in as “convenience”; regular messages in Telegram are encrypted in the cloud and can be synced through different devices, while the chat creator must manually back up secret chat. Moreover, Telegram group chats are not encrypted; any participant can silently download video and audio files. Furthermore, in terms of security, open-source has many benefits, mainly transparency, which is the foundation of confidence. Telegram is partly open-source; the client-side programs are open source, but the server-side is closed source.

Data Storage

Except for secret chats, Telegram chats are saved on the cloud by
default. Telegram intends to provide data storage through distributed networks and highly encrypted cloud data. The security key is shared throughout regions to avoid information leakage by a single nation or small community of allies requesting details or a key. There are also a few issues with this technique.

Because the encryption keys are stored on the server, Telegram will technically decrypt communications stored on the cloud. Second, in the event that Telegram’s infrastructure is compromised, an adversary may access encryption keys to decode conversations.

Telegram’s prominence, especially in different states, makes it an attractive
target for nation-states. As a result, the whole security model of Telegram
cloud is based on trusting a centralized authority, which is a vulnerable
strategy from a security perspective.

Encryption Method in Telegram

Cryptography researchers have criticized Telegram for using MTProto, a non-standard cryptographic protocol. Certainly, confidence cannot be gained for an algorithm until the scheme has undergone years of in-depth research, thorough testing, and extensive review, which MTProto has not achieved. Several security bugs in MTProto have been found, but the majority of them are theoretical. Despite the criticism, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s safe communications scorecard has scored Telegram’s hidden chat as 7/7. Likewise, in a whitepaper titled “Automated Symbolic Verification of Telegram’s MTProto 2.0,” researchers concluded that the protocol is sound and MTProto 2.0 does not present any conceptual fault, but they also addressed the probability of implementation bugs and side-channel threats.

Legal Issues

Telegram encompasses public networks for broadcasting messages to a
large number of users. Telegram has a background of interacting with the
Iranian and Russian governments. As, at the behest of the government, Telegram shut down an Iranian opposition channel in 2017 for encouraging violence; additionally, Telegram decided to ban several bots, including stickers in Iran.

Similarly, Telegram was banned in Russia in April 2020 due to noncompliance with the FSB’s requirement to issue encryption keys. The ban was lifted in June 2020 after Telegram agreed to engage in the investigation as required. Despite this, Telegram has stated in its privacy policy that it still has to report a single instance of data disclosure at the government’s behest.

Since Telegram collects and preserves a great deal of information for its service distribution, the data may be of considerable importance to a country, and Telegram may be obliged to provide information under court order. 

Privacy Protection

According to Telegram’s privacy policies, they gather information such as IP addresses, device information, history of username changes, Telegram applications you’ve used, and more as part of their spam and misuse protection protocol. If this data is processed, it is kept for 12 months before being discarded. Twelve months is a huge time for malicious third parties to access user’s data.

Besides, Telegram moderators are allowed to read regular chat messages tagged for spam and bullying to decide whether or not the statement is accurate. Although this is a fair practice, it still implies that someone will read what you’ve written on anyway.

Furthermore, the app can save compiled metadata in order to better customize your experience. For instance, it creates a customized list of contacts by calculating a ranking based on whom you message the most often when you open the Search menu. In the digital world, none of these three ideas are novel. However, when exchanging personal data on an app, users should be mindful of how the data is treated. 

Telegram transfers the whole address book to the Telegram cloud to be
notified if someone on the contact list signs up for Telegram service. Telegram knows from user’s social graph in this manner, including people who do not utilize their service. Telegram defines two additional possible data sources in section 8 of its Privacy Policy titled Whom Your Personal Data May Be Shared With, in addition to the other users you want to connect with through the app.

Telegram exchanges its user’s personal details with its parent company and a community member who provides funding for its services. On the other hand, Telegram retains the freedom to reveal your IP address and phone number to the appropriate authorities. That occurs after the organization issues a legal order claiming that a customer is guilty of terrorist activity. That has not happened yet, but it’ll be recorded in a transparency survey if it happens. 

Although Telegram is encrypted on several layers, which adds an extra
layer of encryption to user details, it is not a reliable messenger in terms of
privacy and protection. As the messenger collects a lot of metadata from the users, it can be exploited by attackers. Malicious third parties may also
misuse the metadata of app users. For all those people whose main concern is the privacy and confidentiality of their data, Telegram messenger is not secure for them. 

by Jan Hajek @janhajek. Develop websites and blogs as a hobby. Once bought 250 domains and still don’t know what to do with them.My tech and SEO blog

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How to Become a Cryptographer: A Complete Career Guide

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Have you ever wondered how private information and communications are protected from prying eyes? Cryptography is used to do this. The method of writing (or cracking) encryption code to keep data secret is known as cryptography. Individuals who write and break these cyphers are known as cryptographers.

Cryptographers have made the internet a safer place to do things like shop online and send private emails. Consider what it would be like if you knew your credit card numbers were being sent in plain text around the internet for everyone to see every time you shopped online. It’s likely to make you rethink your purchase. Fortunately for us all, as well as the online shopping industry, cryptographers have devised a range of methods to encrypt credit card numbers as they move across the internet.

It is often appropriate for the government to decrypt data that has been encrypted in the interest of public safety. To do so, government agencies such as the FBI, NSA, and CIA hire cryptographers who spend countless hours decrypting and dissecting the cyphers and algorithms used to encrypt data.

Those interested in pursuing a career as a cryptographer should possess exceptional mathematical and analytical abilities. Most cryptographers have a graduate degree, but a bachelor’s degree might be sufficient for an entry-level role in some cases.

Table of Contents

Five steps to becoming a cryptographer or cryptologist

1. Concentrate on math: Cryptography is based on mathematics. Without math, cyphers and encryption algorithms will not work. As a result, anyone interested in pursuing a career in cryptography must have exceptional math skills. Anyone interested in becoming a cryptographer should work on their math skills and even take refresher lessons.

2. Earn a bachelor’s degree: Employers would typically need a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, computer science, or a similar field to work as a cryptologist. Most cryptographers would need to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree to be effective in the profession, but obtaining a bachelor’s degree is the first step.

3. Internship: While a bachelor’s degree might be sufficient for a cryptography work, most companies would need cryptographers to have a graduate degree. This makes gaining experience in the field challenging. Another choice is to look for cryptographer internships (both paid and unpaid).

Internships will not only provide you with valuable experience for your resume, but they will also serve as a perfect way to further your education. Working with seasoned cryptographers will show you strategies that you won’t learn in the classroom. Getting a paid internship has the added benefit of supplying you with money to pay for your education.

If you can’t find a position or internship in cryptography with your bachelor’s degree, look for similar internships and careers in the fields of mathematics or cybersecurity.

4. Get your master’s degree: As previously mentioned, most companies would expect cryptographers to have a graduate degree. After completing your bachelor’s degree, you have the option of taking a break to pursue an internship or entry-level work in cryptography, or you can immediately enrol in a master’s programme in computer science or mathematics.

5. Begin your search: Cryptographers are required in a variety of fields. To secure their financial records, financial institutions such as credit card companies and banks employ cryptographers. The FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) also employ cryptographers to help with national security. The first step in the job search is to figure out what field you want to work in, after which you can begin applying.

What is the role of a cryptographer?

Although cryptography may appear to be a modern profession exclusive to the digital era, this is not the case. Computer algorithms and cyphers are used by modern cryptographers, but math has been used to protect communication throughout history.

Cryptographers build cyphers, which are then used to encrypt data, using mathematics and computer science. Cryptographers are working to develop new protection technologies as old ones become outdated. Cryptographers are required to crack the cyphers used on the messages and read them while they are encrypted.

Cryptographers encrypt communications and confidential data in a variety of sectors, including financial institutions and government agencies.

Those interested in cryptography should strive to learn the following skills:

  • Advanced algebra
  • Algorithms
  • Programming languages such as C, C++, Python, and Java
  • Symmetric cryptography
  • Asymmetric cryptography
  • Computer networking
  • Cybersecurity

What do cryptographers do?

A cryptographer’s day-to-day duties can differ depending on the type of entity for which they operate. Cryptographers working for a government agency such as the National Security Agency, for example, may spend their day decrypting a confidential document required for national security. Assume a terrorist has been apprehended and his laptop contains a large number of documents. These documents, according to intelligence officials, may lead to the arrest of other alleged terrorists; however, the documents have been encrypted. A cryptographer is required in this situation. The NSA’s cryptographer will work to decrypt the encryption system used on these documents so that they can be further examined.

Cryptographers in both the public and private sectors can find themselves using mathematics to come up with new and creative ways to encrypt data. While several algorithms exist to encrypt data, attackers are constantly devising new ways to gain access to secure data. This means that cryptographers would have to work much harder to keep it secure. Cryptographers are actively developing new ways to encrypt data as well as new cypher cracking techniques. Cryptography resembles sophisticated puzzle solving in several respects.

General cryptographer job description

The industry and company for which you work as a cryptographer will determine the job description for you. The following are some of the duties that a cryptographer, cryptanalyst, or cryptologist may have.

  • To solve complex problems, apply mathematical theories.
  • Create new data encryption methods.
  • Decryption of an encrypted document
  • To analyse data, create statistical or mathematical models.
  • Apply numeric analysis methods to data.
  • Create data-driven reports
  • To advance mathematical science, find new relationships between established mathematical concepts.

Outlook for cryptographer

Overall employment is expected to rise 30% by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This indicates that now is an excellent time to pursue a career in cryptography. As previously said, cryptography has been used throughout history, and it does not appear that cryptography employment will be phased out anytime soon.

Cryptographer salary

Choosing a career as a cryptographer can be costly due to the fact that most positions in the field require a graduate degree. Fortunately, cryptography jobs are usually well-paying, and the salary will help defray some of the costs of schooling. The national average cryptographer wage, according to ZipRecruiter, is $149,040 per year. Entry-level cryptographers can still earn six figures on ZipRecruiter, with salaries starting at about $109,500. Around 3% of cryptography workers pay between $189,500 and $197,500 on the higher end. According to other websites, such as SimplyHired.com, the average cryptographer salary is $77,000 a year, with the top 10% earning $166,000 per year and the bottom 10% earning about $51,000 per year. The average salary, according to Payscale.com, is $98,000. As you can see from these figures, although it’s difficult to estimate exact salaries, a career in cryptography is likely to be lucrative.

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Source: https://cybersguards.com/how-to-become-a-cryptographer-a-complete-career-guide/

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