According to Data USA, degrees in the business field are among the most popular in the United States, with 840,116 degrees in this field alone being awarded in 2020. You went down the commerce route (meaning you have a grasp of business administration, accounting, and applied economics) and now you’re interested in practical applications of your knowledge.


With your commerce degree firmly under your belt, you may feel like a ship without a rudder – aimless and having no idea what direction to go. Happily, the tech field is ready and waiting for you, as a career in computer sciences may await. Here, we ask, “can a commerce student do BSc Computer Science?” The answer may surprise you, especially if you’re worried that a computer science degree’s eligibility requirements are outside the scope of what you learned in your commerce studies.


Background on Commerce and Computer Science


On the surface, commerce and computer science may seem like they go together as well as peanut butter and granite. But if you dig a little deeper into the scope of each subject, you start to realize that there’s more crossover than there first appears:

  • Commerce – A degree in commerce gives you a firm grasp of the numbers that lie behind the scenes in a business, with banking, economics, and accounting all falling under your developing areas of expertise. Analytics is also a key part of these courses (especially in the research and data analyst fields), which is where we see some crossover with computer science.
  • Computer Science – If commerce is all about the behind-the-scenes numbers in business, computer science handles what goes on under the hood in computing. Software development, data modeling, and analysis all fall under the computer science graduate’s remit, with the ability to pore through data to come to conclusions being essential to this technical subject.

It’s in the analysis that we start to see similarities between commerce and computer science emerge. Yes, commerce focuses more on the numbers behind businesses (and wider economic trends), but the ability to understand the data presented and report on what you see has applications in the computer science field. There’s not a direct crossover, as computer science will require you to learn the “language” in which computers speak, but they are many soft skills you develop in a commerce degree that apply to computer science.


Eligibility for BSc Computer Science


The key questions to ask when considering the issue of whether can commerce student do BSc Computer Science split into two categories:

  • The general eligibility requirements to study a BSc in computer science
  • Specific requirements that apply to commerce students

Eligibility Criteria for BSc Computer Science


BSc Computer Science degrees don’t require a great deal of computer know-how (though it helps), instead focusing on your grasp of mathematics. Requirements include the following:

  • A high school diploma (or your country’s equivalent) that shows solid performance in mathematical subjects.
    • Some degrees require you to achieve a specific Grade Point Average (GPA), though the specific GPA varies depending on where you apply.
  • A high level of English proficiency, which can be measured using one (or both) of the following tests:
    • IELTS – Get a minimum score between 6.0 and 7.0
    • TOEFL – Get a minimum score between 90 and 100

Beyond these educational requirements, international students may need to submit copies of their passport and Visa, alongside certified academic transcripts to show they’ve achieved their country’s equivalents of the above grades. Not all courses require this of international students, with some online universities focusing more on your academic skills and less on your country of origin.


In terms of entrance exams, some colleges enforce computer science-specific exams (such as the CUET or CUCET), while others use NPATS or similar, more general exams, to determine proficiency.


Eligibility Criteria for Commerce Students


You may be standing at the starting line of your educational journey, meaning you’ve not yet applied to start your degree in commerce. First, congratulations on thinking so far ahead that you’re wondering “Can a commerce student do BSc Computer Science?” And second, you need to know what high school subjects help you get onto this degree path.


Commerce is a form of business degree, meaning any high school subjects that apply to the economic world help. Subjects like math, finance, economics, and foreign languages are obvious choices. The likes of marketing and computer applications also help (with the latter also laying some groundwork for your later computer science studies.


Much like computer science, you’ll likely have to take an entrance exam when applying to study commerce at most universities. The CSEET, CUET, and SET are common choices, with the first of these exams focusing specifically on those who study commerce to work as company secretaries.


The Possibility of Flexible Eligibility Criteria


Not all colleges require you to take entrance exams, with some even using broader strokes for their eligibility requirements to the point where they provide flexibility for both commerce and computer science students.


Colleges with open curriculums (such as Brown University and Hamilton College) offer more freedom in terms of what you study, with their entry requirements being more flexible as a result. Online institutions, such as the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT) may also offer more flexible entry criteria, sometimes allowing you to transfer credit from one course to another. That type of credit transfer may be ideal for you if you start a degree in commerce only to later decide to go down the computer science route.



Career Prospects for Commerce Students in Computer Science


When it comes to careers for those who hold computer science degrees, the obvious heavy-hitters are software and web development, IT management, and systems architecture. There are also exciting careers in the emerging AI fields that take full advantage of the technical skills you’ll develop as part of a BSc in computer science.


As for the career crossover between commerce and computer science, the key is to think about the skills that a commerce degree gives you that can apply in the computing field. Such skills include the following:

  • Analytical Skills – Much like computer science, commerce is all about analyzing the data presented so you can report (and leverage) it for other purposes. Your ability to sit down and pore through the numbers will take you a long way in a computer-related role.
  • Problem-Solving Skills – Closely linked to analytical skills, the ability to solve problems requires you to see the data at hand and come up with solutions while accounting for any restrictions presented. In creating commerce models, those restrictions may relate to budget and competencies, while computer science asks you to solve problems while taking system capabilities and limitations into account.
  • Communication and Teamwork – Though often considered soft skills (as opposed to the “hard” technical skills you learn in a commerce degree), communication and teamwork are vital. If you need proof, try to work alone in any technical career and you’ll see why it’s so crucial to have these skills.

Potential Career Paths for Commerce Students with a BSc in Computer Science


With so much crossover potential between commerce and computer science, it’s clear that the answer to the question can a commerce student do BSc Computer Science is a resounding “yes.” And once you’ve completed your studies, several career paths await:

  • Data Analyst – Reviewing data to find insights (be that into businesses or computer systems) are part of the remit for a data analyst. This role is all about problem-solving, which is a skill you’ll develop in abundance as a commerce and computer science student.
  • Business Analyst – Take the ability to gather insights that is required of a data analyst and apply it specifically to areas of improvement in a business to become a business analyst. You’ll combine technical knowledge of a company’s inner workings with complex financial (and computational) models.
  • IT Consultant – More computer science-centric than commerce-focused, IT consultants deal with the hows and whys of the computer networks businesses build. Your commerce skills will still come into play though, particularly when explaining how IT benefits businesses financially.
  • Financial Technology Specialist – Combining the best of both worlds, this role combines the accounting skills you develop studying commerce with the technical ability needed to understand software and its functions.

 

Challenges and Considerations for Commerce Students


Though it’s possible for a commerce student to study (and succeed in) computer science, there are some challenges to consider.


The Technical Nature of Computer Science


As you learn the language of numbers in a commerce degree, so must you learn the language of machines when studying computer science. Getting to grips with the lingo (not to mention coding) can present a challenge to more business-minded students.


Balancing Your Workload


There’s an old saying that goes “Don’t burn the candle at both ends,” which is a warning not to pack too much onto your work plate. If you study commerce and computer science simultaneously, there’s a risk you may push yourself too far. Avoiding burnout requires finding the balance between your studies and personal time.


Networking and Practical Experience


As a commerce student, you understand that the world of business is as much about who you know as what you know. Finding the right people to take a chance on you, thus giving you practical experience, can be tough. But when armed with a pair of degrees in subjects that complement one another, you’re in a better position to build connections with people who can help you go far.



From Commerce to Computing – Is It Right for You?


So, can a commerce student do BSc Computer Science?


The answer isn’t just “yes,” but that it’s actually a great direction to go. Where a commerce degree equips you with a nice mix of technical knowledge and soft skills, a computer science course gives you even more practical knowledge that allows you to enter more specialized fields. However, your interest in each subject plays a role, as your ability (and passion) for studying hinges on your desire to dig into the more technical world of computing.


Assuming you have a genuine interest (and meet the appropriate eligibility criteria), supplementing your commerce studies with computer science can open up many career paths.

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Cyber Threat Landscape 2024: Human-Centric Cyber Threats
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
Apr 17, 2024 9 min read

Human-centric cyber threats have long posed a serious issue for organizations. After all, humans are often the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Unfortunately, when artificial intelligence came into the mix, it only made these threats even more dangerous.

So, what can be done about these cyber threats now?

That’s precisely what we asked Tom Vazdar, the chair of the Enterprise Cybersecurity Master’s program at the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), and Venicia Solomons, aka the “Cyber Queen.”

They dedicated a significant portion of their “Cyber Threat Landscape 2024: Navigating New Risks” master class to AI-powered human-centric cyber threats. So, let’s see what these two experts have to say on the topic.

Human-Centric Cyber Threats 101

Before exploring how AI impacted human-centric cyber threats, let’s go back to the basics. What are human-centric cyber threats?

As you might conclude from the name, human-centric cyber threats are cybersecurity risks that exploit human behavior or vulnerabilities (e.g., fear). Even if you haven’t heard of the term “human-centric cyber threats,” you’ve probably heard of (or even experienced) the threats themselves.

The most common of these threats are phishing attacks, which rely on deceptive emails to trick users into revealing confidential information (or clicking on malicious links). The result? Stolen credentials, ransomware infections, and general IT chaos.

How Has AI Impacted Human-Centric Cyber Threats?

AI has infiltrated virtually every cybersecurity sector. Social engineering is no different.

As mentioned, AI has made human-centric cyber threats substantially more dangerous. How? By making them difficult to spot.

In Venicia’s words, AI has allowed “a more personalized and convincing social engineering attack.”

In terms of email phishing, malicious actors use AI to write “beautifully crafted emails,” as Tom puts it. These emails contain no grammatical errors and can mimic the sender’s writing style, making them appear more legitimate and harder to identify as fraudulent.

These highly targeted AI-powered phishing emails are no longer considered “regular” phishing attacks but spear phishing emails, which are significantly more likely to fool their targets.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there.

As AI technology advances, its capabilities go far beyond crafting a simple email. Venicia warns that AI-powered voice technology can even create convincing voice messages or phone calls that sound exactly like a trusted individual, such as a colleague, supervisor, or even the CEO of the company. Obey the instructions from these phone calls, and you’ll likely put your organization in harm’s way.

How to Counter AI-Powered Human-Centric Cyber Threats

Given how advanced human-centric cyber threats have gotten, one logical question arises – how can organizations counter them? Luckily, there are several ways to do this. Some rely on technology to detect and mitigate threats. However, most of them strive to correct what caused the issue in the first place – human behavior.

Enhancing Email Security Measures

The first step in countering the most common human-centric cyber threats is a given for everyone, from individuals to organizations. You must enhance your email security measures.

Tom provides a brief overview of how you can do this.

No. 1 – you need a reliable filtering solution. For Gmail users, there’s already one such solution in place.

No. 2 – organizations should take full advantage of phishing filters. Before, only spam filters existed, so this is a major upgrade in email security.

And No. 3 – you should consider implementing DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) to prevent email spoofing and phishing attacks.

Keeping Up With System Updates

Another “technical” move you can make to counter AI-powered human-centric cyber threats is to ensure all your systems are regularly updated. Fail to keep up with software updates and patches, and you’re looking at a strong possibility of facing zero-day attacks. Zero-day attacks are particularly dangerous because they exploit vulnerabilities that are unknown to the software vendor, making them difficult to defend against.

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Nurturing a Culture of Skepticism

The key component of the human-centric cyber threats is, in fact, humans. That’s why they should also be the key component in countering these threats.

At an organizational level, numerous steps are needed to minimize the risks of employees falling for these threats. But it all starts with what Tom refers to as a “culture of skepticism.”

Employees should constantly be suspicious of any unsolicited emails, messages, or requests for sensitive information.

They should always ask themselves – who is sending this, and why are they doing so?

This is especially important if the correspondence comes from a seemingly trusted source. As Tom puts it, “Don’t click immediately on a link that somebody sent you because you are familiar with the name.” He labels this as the “Rule No. 1” of cybersecurity awareness.

Growing the Cybersecurity Culture

The ultra-specific culture of skepticism will help create a more security-conscious workforce. But it’s far from enough to make a fundamental change in how employees perceive (and respond to) threats. For that, you need a strong cybersecurity culture.

Tom links this culture to the corporate culture. The organization’s mission, vision, statement of purpose, and values that shape the corporate culture should also be applicable to cybersecurity. Of course, this isn’t something companies can do overnight. They must grow and nurture this culture if they are to see any meaningful results.

According to Tom, it will probably take at least 18 months before these results start to show.

During this time, organizations must work on strengthening the relationships between every department, focusing on the human resources and security sectors. These two sectors should be the ones to primarily grow the cybersecurity culture within the company, as they’re well versed in the two pillars of this culture – human behavior and cybersecurity.

However, this strong interdepartmental relationship is important for another reason.

As Tom puts it, “[As humans], we cannot do anything by ourselves. But as a collective, with the help within the organization, we can.”

Staying Educated

The world of AI and cybersecurity have one thing in common – they never sleep. The only way to keep up with these ever-evolving worlds is to stay educated.

The best practice would be to gain a solid base by completing a comprehensive program, such as OPIT’s Enterprise Cybersecurity Master’s program. Then, it’s all about continuously learning about new developments, trends, and threats in AI and cybersecurity.

Conducting Regular Training

For most people, it’s not enough to just explain how human-centric cyber threats work. They must see them in action. Especially since many people believe that phishing attacks won’t happen to them or, if they do, they simply won’t fall for them. Unfortunately, neither of these are true.

Approximately 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent each day, and millions of them successfully bypass all email authentication methods. With such high figures, developing critical thinking among the employees is the No. 1 priority. After all, humans are the first line of defense against cyber threats.

But humans must be properly trained to counter these cyber threats. This training includes the organization’s security department sending fake phishing emails to employees to test their vigilance. Venicia calls employees who fall for these emails “clickers” and adds that no one wants to be a clicker. So, they do everything in their power to avoid falling for similar attacks in the future.

However, the key to successful employee training in this area also involves avoiding sending similar fake emails. If the company keeps trying to trick the employees in the same way, they’ll likely become desensitized and less likely to take real threats seriously.

So, Tom proposes including gamification in the training. This way, the training can be more engaging and interactive, encouraging employees to actively participate and learn. Interestingly, AI can be a powerful ally here, helping create realistic scenarios and personalized learning experiences based on employee responses.

Following in the Competitors’ Footsteps

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s crucial to be proactive rather than reactive. Even if an organization hasn’t had issues with cyberattacks, it doesn’t mean it will stay this way. So, the best course of action is to monitor what competitors are doing in this field.

However, organizations shouldn’t stop with their competitors. They should also study other real-world social engineering incidents that might give them valuable insights into the tactics used by the malicious actors.

Tom advises visiting the many open-source databases reporting on these incidents and using the data to build an internal educational program. This gives organizations a chance to learn from other people’s mistakes and potentially prevent those mistakes from happening within their ecosystem.

Stay Vigilant

It’s perfectly natural for humans to feel curiosity when it comes to new information, anxiety regarding urgent-looking emails, and trust when seeing a familiar name pop up on the screen. But in the world of cybersecurity, these basic human emotions can cause a lot of trouble. That is, at least, when humans act on them.

So, organizations must work on correcting human behaviors, not suppressing basic human emotions. By doing so, they can help employees develop a more critical mindset when interacting with digital communications. The result? A cyber-aware workforce that’s well-equipped to recognize and respond to phishing attacks and other cyber threats appropriately.

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Cyber Threat Landscape 2024: The AI Revolution in Cybersecurity
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
Apr 17, 2024 9 min read

There’s no doubt about it – artificial intelligence has revolutionized almost every aspect of modern life. Healthcare, finance, and manufacturing are just some of the sectors that have been virtually turned upside down by this powerful new force. Cybersecurity also ranks high on this list.

But as much as AI can benefit cybersecurity, it also presents new challenges. Or – to be more direct –new threats.

To understand just how serious these threats are, we’ve enlisted the help of two prominent figures in the cybersecurity world – Tom Vazdar and Venicia Solomons. Tom is the chair of the Master’s Degree in Enterprise Cybersecurity program at the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT). Venicia, better known as the “Cyber Queen,” runs a widely successful cybersecurity community looking to empower women to succeed in the industry.

Together, they held a master class titled “Cyber Threat Landscape 2024: Navigating New Risks.” In this article, you get the chance to hear all about the double-edged sword that is AI in cybersecurity.

How Can Organizations Benefit From Using AI in Cybersecurity?

As with any new invention, AI has primarily been developed to benefit people. In the case of AI, this mainly refers to enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and automation in tasks that would be challenging or impossible for people to perform alone.

However, as AI technology evolves, its potential for both positive and negative impacts becomes more apparent.

But just because the ugly side of AI has started to rear its head more dramatically, it doesn’t mean we should abandon the technology altogether. The key, according to Venicia, is in finding a balance. And according to Tom, this balance lies in treating AI the same way you would cybersecurity in general.

Keep reading to learn what this means.

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Implement a Governance Framework

In cybersecurity, there is a governance framework called ISO/IEC 27000, whose goal is to provide a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information, ensuring it remains secure. A similar framework has recently been created for AI— ISO/IEC 42001.

Now, the trouble lies in the fact that many organizations “don’t even have cybersecurity, not to speak artificial intelligence,” as Tom puts it. But the truth is that they need both if they want to have a chance at managing the risks and complexities associated with AI technology, thus only reaping its benefits.

Implement an Oversight Mechanism

Fearing the risks of AI in cybersecurity, many organizations chose to forbid the usage of this technology outright within their operations. But by doing so, they also miss out on the significant benefits AI can offer in enhancing cybersecurity defenses.

So, an all-out ban on AI isn’t a solution. A well-thought-out oversight mechanism is.

According to Tom, this control framework should dictate how and when an organization uses cybersecurity and AI and when these two fields are to come in contact. It should also answer the questions of how an organization governs AI and ensures transparency.

With both of these frameworks (governance and oversight), it’s not enough to simply implement new mechanisms. Employees should also be educated and regularly trained to uphold the principles outlined in these frameworks.

Control the AI (Not the Other Way Around!)

When it comes to relying on AI, one principle should be every organization’s guiding light. Control the AI; don’t let the AI control you.

Of course, this includes controlling how the company’s employees use AI when interacting with client data, business secrets, and other sensitive information.

Now, the thing is – people don’t like to be controlled.

But without control, things can go off the rails pretty quickly.

Tom gives just one example of this. In 2022, an improperly trained (and controlled) chatbot gave an Air Canada customer inaccurate information and a non-existing discount. As a result, the customer bought a full-price ticket. A lawsuit ensued, and in 2024, the court ruled in the customer’s favor, ordering Air Canada to pay compensation.

This case alone illustrates one thing perfectly – you must have your AI systems under control. Tom hypothesizes that the system was probably affordable and easy to implement, but it eventually cost Air Canada dearly in terms of financial and reputational damage.

How Can Organizations Protect Themselves Against AI-Driven Cyberthreats?

With well-thought-out measures in place, organizations can reap the full benefits of AI in cybersecurity without worrying about the threats. But this doesn’t make the threats disappear. Even worse, these threats are only going to get better at outsmarting the organization’s defenses.

So, what can the organizations do about these threats?

Here’s what Tom and Venicia suggest.

Fight Fire With Fire

So, AI is potentially attacking your organization’s security systems? If so, use AI to defend them. Implement your own AI-enhanced threat detection systems.

But beware – this isn’t a one-and-done solution. Tom emphasizes the importance of staying current with the latest cybersecurity threats. More importantly – make sure your systems are up to date with them.

Also, never rely on a single control system. According to our experts, “layered security measures” are the way to go.

Never Stop Learning (and Training)

When it comes to AI in cybersecurity, continuous learning and training are of utmost importance – learning for your employees and training for the AI models. It’s the only way to ensure all system aspects function properly and your employees know how to use each and every one of them.

This approach should also alleviate one of the biggest concerns regarding an increasing AI implementation. Namely, employees fear that they will lose their jobs due to AI. But the truth is, the AI systems need them just as much as they need those systems.

As Tom puts it, “You need to train the AI system so it can protect you.”

That’s why studying to be a cybersecurity professional is a smart career move.

However, you’ll want to find a program that understands the importance of AI in cybersecurity and equips you to handle it properly. Get a master’s degree in Enterprise Security from OPIT, and that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Join the Bigger Fight

When it comes to cybersecurity, transparency is key. If organizations fail to report cybersecurity incidents promptly and accurately, they not only jeopardize their own security but also that of other organizations and individuals. Transparency builds trust and allows for collaboration in addressing cybersecurity threats collectively.

So, our experts urge you to engage in information sharing and collaborative efforts with other organizations, industry groups, and governmental bodies to stay ahead of threats.

How Has AI Impacted Data Protection and Privacy?

Among the challenges presented by AI, one stands out the most – the potential impact on data privacy and protection. Why? Because there’s a growing fear that personal data might be used to train large AI models.

That’s why European policymakers sprang into action and introduced the Artificial Intelligence Act in March 2024.

This regulation, implemented by the European Parliament, aims to protect fundamental rights, democracy, the rule of law, and environmental sustainability from high-risk AI. The act is akin to the well-known General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed in 2016 but exclusively targets the use of AI. The good news for those fearful of AI’s potential negative impact is that every requirement imposed by this act is backed up with heavy penalties.

But how can organizations ensure customers, clients, and partners that their data is fully protected?

According to our experts, the answer is simple – transparency, transparency, and some more transparency!

Any employed AI system must be designed in a way that doesn’t jeopardize anyone’s privacy and freedom. However, it’s not enough to just design the system in such a way. You must also ensure all the stakeholders understand this design and the system’s operation. This includes providing clear information about the data being collected, how it’s being used, and the measures in place to protect it.

Beyond their immediate group of stakeholders, organizations also must ensure that their data isn’t manipulated or used against people. Tom gives an example of what must be avoided at all costs. Let’s say a client applies for a loan in a financial institution. Under no circumstances should that institution use AI to track the client’s personal data and use it against them, resulting in a loan ban. This hypothetical scenario is a clear violation of privacy and trust.

And according to Tom, “privacy is more important than ever.” The same goes for internal ethical standards organizations must develop.

Keeping Up With Cybersecurity

Like most revolutions, AI has come in fast and left many people (and organizations) scrambling to keep up. However, those who recognize that AI isn’t going anywhere have taken steps to embrace it and fully benefit from it. They see AI for what it truly is – a fundamental shift in how we approach technology and cybersecurity.

Those individuals have also chosen to advance their knowledge in the field by completing highly specialized and comprehensive programs like OPIT’s Enterprise Cybersecurity Master’s program. Coincidentally, this is also the program where you get to hear more valuable insights from Tom Vazdar, as he has essentially developed this course.

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