Cybersecurity Training
in Criminal Justice

by Thomas Dworak, Sgt. (Ret.), Virtus Group

Data breaches are becoming a way of life in America. Private businesses and public sector cities large and small have been attacked. Recently a police department in Illinois paid a hacker $5,000 to regain access to their computer network.

Learn More About CJ DegreesWithin the criminal justice arena, specialty areas for cybersecurity include criminal investigations, computer forensics and cybercrime prevention. The National Initiative for Cyber Crimes and Studies ( lists among developing jobs Computer Crimes Investigator. 

According to Burning Glass, a job market research firm, cybersecurity job postings grew by 77% between 2009-2013. The cybersecurity field is rapidly growing and constantly developing.

A degree in criminal justice with coursework in cybersecurity training will increase your value to your current or prospective employer. Obtaining or completing your degree online will provide you with the ability to specialize in these developing threats.

The data that is stolen during a breach can have a far-reaching effect on the lives of the 360 million citizens of the United States. Cyber theft is often not discovered for weeks or months and requires special knowledge to investigate the data breach. Chase Bank, Target and Home Depot have been victims of data breaches that impacted millions of customers. The data incursion into Sony pictures was both damaging and embarrassing to the company and their executives after their emails were made public.

According to Burning Glass, a job market research firm, cybersecurity job postings grew by 77% between 2009-2013.

Many crimes that were once committed in person or by chain letter are now being performed in cyberspace. Forgery, check kiting and fraud now exist in the digital age.  Ponzi schemes such as the Jamaican Lottery or Lebanese Businessman, prey on the elderly who may not fully understand the dangers of cyberspace and who would benefit from an officer or investigator trained in cybercrime prevention.

Cyber security training enhances basic criminal investigations. Several years ago while investigating an armed robbery, I learned of a method where the suspect used a call-forwarding Google phone number to mask his identity when setting up a meeting with his intended victim. At the time I did not know such technology existed.

Fraud and other crimes may begin on the Internet, yet end in a face-to-face meeting where the criminal commits theft or causes harm to the victim. The victim, with nothing more than an email or a webpage, provides what information he/she has to an officer taking a report. Locating and arresting the offender in this example would be enhanced if the investigator has a background in cyber crimes.

One way to enhance your ability to serve in the criminal justice profession is to obtain additional education or training in cybersecurity. Obtaining your criminal justice degree with an emphasis in cybersecurity online is a simple way to increase your professional development or set yourself apart from others while seeking employment in the criminal justice field.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has Cyber Action Teams that can respond anywhere in the US within 48 hours to assist in the investigation of data breaches.  Teams are made up of investigators and computer specialists with cybersecurity education and training to assist in protecting US interests. These cybersecurity-trained investigators provide support, answer questions and assist in developing leads to move these cases forward. Other Federal agencies under the Department of Homeland Security also have a need for agents trained in cybersecurity.

Obtaining additional training in cybersecurity or a criminal justice degree with additional coursework in cybersecurity prepares you for the future.  Increase your personal and career development. Be a leader in understanding the new developing threats to individuals and businesses in your community. There are no new crimes, only new ways to perform them.

Sgt. Thomas Dworak served the Wilmette, Il. Police Department for 31 years in a wide variety of assignments. Now retired, Sgt. Dworak is a consultant for The Virtus Group ( providing adaptive leadership training to law enforcement and corrections officers through the Growing Courage leadership program.