As the music beats in the trailer for the upcoming British spy movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, a suit-clad Colin Firth introduces a new recruit to the world of espionage.

The camera flashes from a secret meeting room to an arsenal of sleek weapons disguised as everyday objects to fast cars and expensive tailored suits. The new recruit is awed and impressed by the amazing gadgets he’ll use in his new profession.

Yet, like all other spy movies, Kingsman: The Secret Service glosses over the most important part of a modern spy’s arsenal: the computer.


Governments have always placed a high importance on using technology to communicate securely. In ancient times, the Spartans used scytale ciphers to send messages between generals. Thomas Jefferson invented the wheel cipher to encode his messages to the U.S. while serving as Washington’s Minister to France. In WWII, the German Enigma machine nearly brought Britain to its knees.

Today cryptography – the creation of secure communication – has moved online and information security has become a top priority of the National Security Agency (NSA).


The NSA recruits top talent to gather foreign intelligence and to protect U.S. government information systems. Cyber professionals at the NSA do everything from designing special-purpose computers to creating pattern-recognition technologies, running computer networks, and developing programs to rapidly analyze massive amounts of data. They also work with top research institutions to push the boundaries of information technology, such as inventing the first supercomputer capable of one million billion calculations per second.

The NSA offers a wide variety of Cyber Careers for information security professionals, including:

  • Global Network Analysts. Focus on winning the war in cyberspace through network defense, network attack, and computer network exploitation.
  • Cryptanalytic Computer Network Operations Development Programmers. Use advanced computer science, electrical engineering, and mathematical approaches to solve challenging cryptanalytic problems.
  • Neuromorphic Computing Researchers. Develop advanced cyber security techniques and computing architectures, and manage technology investment strategies.
  • Network Vulnerability Analysts. Drive the development of comprehensive threat-based risk reductions and create scalable defenses to thwart cyber-attacks.
  • Information Systems Security Managers. Develop cutting edge security solutions to detect NSA network system vulnerabilities and neutralize threats.

Recently, the NSA has stepped up its drive to hire top IT talent. In 2012, NSA representatives recruited at DefCon, the largest hacker conference in the U.S. The recruiting push continues with a CryptoChallenge mobile app that challenges mobile users to crack complex codes and a series of encrypted recruitment tweets.


The NSA also partnered with universities across the U.S. to include Cyber Operations in its core curriculum. At Capella University, designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE) since 2007, cyber security is a key component of Capella’s new Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security program—available with a Digital Forensics or Network Defense specialization.

Students learn how to:

  • Evaluate data to extract strategic intelligence.
  • Assess risk in technology systems and design solutions.
  • Manage enterprise systems for small and large organizations.
  • Develop critical IT skills such as ethical hacking, encryption, forensics, and more in Capella’s hands-on learning environment that includes interactive labs on a virtual platform.

Students are prepared to protect information security in the government, public, and academic sectors, in areas such as systems architecture, network management, information assurance, and project management.


If you’re interested in a career in information security and ready to pursue an MS in Information Security, learn more about Capella’s Master’s in Network Defense and Master’s in Digital Forensics programs.