Consumer Data Protection: Data Scientists And Data Security

AUG 14, 2023

n this day and age, businesses of all types capture a huge amount of consumer data in all sorts of interactions, from monetary transactions to user sign-ups to simply responding to advertising. This has meant a great boom for the field of data-driven analytics, as more and more companies are employing teams of data scientists to assess the huge amounts of information suddenly at their disposal.

This means alongside the burgeoning data collection industry is a related cybersecurity industry designed to protect consumers and businesses alike. This field is likely to only continue to expand in years to come, as the growing capacities of data mining technology also mean growing threats from cyberattackers.

Indeed, data scientists and data security go hand in hand, meaning that most teams that feature big data personnel (such as data analysts and engineers) also feature a cybersecurity team. If you are considering a career in data science and want to choose a focus area that you can sustain for a long time to come, the arena of consumer data protection will always be a critical part of the industry.

What is data privacy?

At heart, there are two chief concerns behind the concept of data privacy: protecting individuals’ data from people who have not been allowed access to it, and ensuring that individuals have control over who gets access to their information (and what information they get access to).

Data privacy is a serious concern, one that both businesses and the US government are working to regulate to ensure consumer trust.

With so many services moved online in recent years, everyone has submitted personal data to third parties, which can include highly sensitive information such as one’s bank account information or social security number. In fact, in some cases there are not even paper alternatives provided, meaning using online platforms to submit this information is a necessity.

How policy impacts data privacy

As concerns over the capabilities of cyberattackers have grown, the US government has stepped up to better protect private citizens’ information. US data protection laws are growing stronger every year, with the Federal Trade Commission overseeing key pieces of legislation as well as conducting important research on the ever-evolving state of data security. Some states also offer consumer data privacy laws, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act, which regulates data security throughout the state.

It is all but certain that as our data collection technologies continue to improve, state and federal policy will continue to evolve to keep consumers protected. This means that data scientists and data security will only become more integral to business’ functions.

Data scientists and data security: how they relate

Cybersecurity experts, also known as information security analysts, are data scientists who take responsibility for the data their companies collect. This requires an in-depth understanding not only of how security systems work but how they continue to evolve. From here, they must think strategically about how these ever-changing systems might be vulnerable to attack.

The main objective of cybersecurity experts is to ensure a secure database for all consumer information collected by their company. This is no small responsibility. It’s a job that requires extensive knowledge and a good amount of ingenuity, as you will often be called to “think like a hacker,” imagining how someone might break into the system your company is currently using. If you want to take on the often difficult work of a cybersecurity expert to protect vulnerable consumers, you’ll find a thriving career path ahead of you.

Cybersecurity expert salary data and job growth

Cybersecurity experts are highly valued, and their pay reflects that. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a fantastic median annual wage of $102,600 for information security specialists, one that’s certain to get anyone’s attention. Further, the job growth expectancy for cybersecurity specialists is stellar, with the BLS projecting an estimated job growth of 35% by 2031 – a huge number that tremendously exceeds that of most other professions.

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Taking the next steps to become a data scientist

If you see career potential in the connection between data scientists and data security, you’re a perfect candidate to become a cybersecurity expert.

So how does one do it?

Data security experts are expected to hold a master’s degree in statistics data science, which means that obtaining your degree should be your next step.

There are many applied statistics graduate programs that are available online or in a traditional on-campus model. One can also get a master’s degree in data science, choosing cybersecurity as your data science focus area. Though these programs will be rigorous, they will provide you with complex skills and deep expertise that will be valuable for decades to come.


Why is data privacy important?

One only needs to think of their own interests as a consumer to understand why data privacy is important. Nowadays, consumer data can include highly sensitive information, making anyone who submits information over the internet vulnerable to identity theft or other forms of fraud. Because of this, businesses who rely on receiving customer information digitally have a vested interest in protecting their data. Here data scientists and data security converge, as many companies bring cybersecurity experts onto their teams to help protect the large amounts of consumer data they receive.

Will cybersecurity experts go out of date?

Not likely. However, those working in the field of cybersecurity must be ready to continuously learn how programs are being updated and reorganized, as these interfaces are rapidly shifting to become stronger and protect larger amounts of data.

Is cybersecurity a focus area of data science master’s programs?

In many schools, yes. This is a great way to build up the targeted body of knowledge you need to become a successful cybersecurity specialist.