With the high demand for computer science experts, it’s no wonder that related professions count among the best-paid jobs worldwide. If this career path sounds exciting to you, enlisting in an online computer science degree program would be the best choice.


Explore our list of suggestions of the top BSc programs in Europe and pick the one that looks like the ideal option based on your interests and goals.


Factors to Consider When Choosing an Online Computer Science Degree Program


The key factors to take into account when weighing up your MSc in Computer Science options include:

  • University accreditation
  • Program curriculum
  • Schedule flexibility and studying format
  • University faculty and student/career support
  • Expenses and scholarship/financial aid possibilities

Top Online BSc Computer Science Bachelor Programs


International University of Applied Sciences


Description

The BSc Computer Science online program from the International University of Applied Sciences (IU) offers a thorough education in the field. The program includes introductory lessons in mathematics and programming, as well as specialized modules for computer science, software development, and IT security.


Key Features

  • Full or part-time studying models
  • Accredited program
  • Recognition of previous education and experience
  • Full studying flexibility

Requirements and Application


You’ll need a higher subject-related education and secondary school diploma to apply for this program. Some applicants may need to take an entrance examination. English proficiency is necessary with one of the following certificates as proof:

  • Level 6 on IELTS
  • 80 points on TOEFL
  • Grade B Cambridge Certificate
  • 95 points on Duolingo

Career Prospects


The degree from this program will open numerous career opportunities, including:

  • Software developer
  • Business analyst
  • Project manager in software development

University of London


Description


The online computer science degree from the University of London gives you an opportunity to study with leading experts and researchers. You’ll learn high-demand skills with a particular focus on problem-solving and practical application. The program offers seven specializations in areas like machine learning, mobile and game development, and AI.


Key Features

  • Study full or part-time
  • Accredited program
  • Performance-based or direct admission
  • Flexible studying schedule

Requirements and Application


When you apply for this program, you’ll either be accepted directly based on previous academic achievements or based on previous experience in the field. Choosing the application path won’t be necessary: The institution will automatically transfer your application on the performance-based path if you lack the required prior education.


You may need to pass several exams, including a mathematics, programming, and English proficiency test.


Career Prospects


This program will help you build a strong portfolio for job applications. You can also access the university’s career service for support in your future career.


Saarland University


Description


Enrolling in the computer science bachelor degree online program from Saarland University provides access to leading tech authorities in Germany and Europe. The Saarland Informatics Campus collaborates with reputable institutions like the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, the Cluster for Multimodal Computing and Interaction, and the renowned Max Planck Institute.


Key Features

  • Full or part-time study available
  • Accredited program
  • No tuition fees
  • Flexibility – study at your own pace

Requirements and Application


The basic application requirement for this program will be a school certificate. The certificate must be recognizable as a qualification for university enrollment in Germany. Apart from that, you’ll need to prove your English proficiency and provide one of the following:

  • Pass an aptitude test
  • Provide proof of participation in an international Olympiad in mathematics, computer science, or science
  • Complete an entrance test in interview form

Career Prospects


The cooperation between Saarland University and high-tech institutions gives you as a student the opportunity to interact with leading employers in the computer science field. The university also offers particular support for entrepreneurs.



Comparison of Top Online Computer Science Degree Programs


Curriculum and Course Offerings


The first two modules of each program on our list feature introductory courses in mathematics, computer science, web app development, and programming. At this stage, the curricula will have slight differences in additional courses:

  • IU: Introduction to Academic Work, Intercultural and Ethical Decision-Making, Collaborative Work, Statistics, and programming in Java environments
  • University of London: Software projects and web applications
  • Saarland University: Perspectives in Computer Science, System Architecture, and Language Course

In module three, the programs will start differing significantly:

  • IU: Focus on database management, computer networks, and SQL programming
  • University of London: Specialization modules and a software development individual project
  • Saarland University: The basics of theoretical computer science, algorithms, and data structure

The fourth module is where the three curricula diverge completely, focusing on different stages of computer science expertise:

  • IU: Theoretical computer science, Python programming, and two projects – IT services and software engineering
  • University of London: Introduction to programming, advanced mathematics, computer science fundamentals, data structures, and algorithms
  • Saarland University: Concurrent programming, big data, a core lecture, plus a seminar project

In the fifth module, the IU and Saarland University programs become more closely defined, while the University of London explores the essential components of computer science in more detail:

  • IU: Cryptography, Introduction to Data Protection and IT Security, two electives (out of nine available), and a seminar on computer science current topics
  • University of London: Advanced programming (data, graphics, and object-oriented), software design, networking, databases, cybersecurity, and projects in Agile software development
  • Saarland University: Machine learning, two core lectures (out of 22 available), and an elective course

The final module in all three programs will, of course, contain your Bachelor thesis. Apart from that, the classes offered will represent a natural conclusion of each curriculum:

  • IU: Project management in Agile, computer science in society, IT law, and an elective
  • University of London: Six electives (out of 12 available)
  • Saarland University: One core lecture

Flexibility and Format


The IU program provides exceptional flexibility, allowing students to mix and match modules and create a unique schedule. Furthermore, the six-module structure represents the fast-track options. If you wish so, it’s possible to break down the curriculum into a maximum of 12 modules.


University of London offers learners complete control over course timing and study intensity. You can wrap up the curriculum within 36 to 72 months. Additionally, this program gives you full freedom of specialization in module six, which contains only elective lectures.


Finally, Saarland University has a part-time study track, which requires you to complete between 50% and 60% of the scheduled courses every semester. In other words, you can extend the studying time to a maximum of 12 semesters while working through the same program as full-time learners.


Faculty and Support Services


All three institutions employ faculty members with a proven track record, expertise, and advanced experience in their fields. Each program also features extensive student support:

  • IU: Optional monthly live sessions covering the entire content of each course
  • University of London: Guided hands-on projects and full access to all learning tools and content
  • Saarland University: Mentoring services and guided lab exercises combined with the support of the guidance service and student council

Cost and Financial Aid


IU’s tuition fees will differ depending on the studying pace you choose. Full-time students will pay monthly fees of €195, while the monthly amount for part-time learners will be either €163 (48-month study time) or €120 (72 months). Additionally, there’s a €699 graduation fee, which may be subject to a discount.


University of London charges between £14,135 and £18,915 for the complete BSc Computer Science online program. The exact pricing will depend on your country, and all applicants are eligible for discounts when paying upfront. You may also pay for each module separately, in which case the installments will be between £1,113 and £1,482. Additional expenses include an application fee of £125 and an assessment resit fee of £424.


Saarland University is state-funded, which means that the institution doesn’t request tuition fees. However, there’s a semester fee that you’ll need to pay before starting each module. This fee covers administrative costs and student services, amounting to a total of €296.


In terms of financial aid, IU doesn’t offer any assistance on that front except for the possible discount on the graduation fee. The University of London has student loans for UK students and scholarships for displaced persons and refugees. Finally, there’s no financial aid for the already quite affordable Saarland University program.


Tips for Success in an Online Computer Science Degree Program


If you wish to excel in your chosen computer science bachelor degree online program, you’d do well to employ certain proven techniques. Here are some of the best tips to help you pursue your educational and career goals.


Firstly, make sure to stay organized and manage your time efficiently. Studying for an online computer science degree is a demanding task, whether you opt for the full or part-time model. Reserve enough time weekly for studying and adjust your schedule accordingly.


Next, once you’ve enrolled in a program, make the most out of the networking possibilities. Connect with other students, mentors, lecturers, and, if possible, the institution’s company partners. The connections you establish during your studies will pay dividends when starting your career.


Avoid relying exclusively on your own faculties and resources. Each institution on our list has plenty of basic and additional resources to help you along the way. Utilize those options in full and take advantage of the support structure at your disposal.


Finally, do your best to stay motivated throughout the program. This may be particularly challenging for part-time students due to the prolonged duration. Keeping your long-term goals in mind and focusing on career opportunities upon graduation will go a long way in this regard.


Apply for a BSc Computer Science Online Program Today


Choosing one of the suggested online computer science degree programs will be the first step toward a thriving career in the field. You’ll gain the necessary skills and knowledge to get professionally involved in the high-paying IT sector. Plus, the BSc degree may be the starting point for postgraduate studies.


With the potential of a successful computer science career, a certified degree represents a more than appealing prospect. Apply for a program that aligns with your interests and goals and start your professional journey in the most lucrative industry today.

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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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