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With cyber crime increasingly prevalent, cyber security is a rapidly growing industry around the world. A cyber security career is perfect for problem solvers, and those who are passionate about new technology.
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Cyber security involves the use of various technologies, controls and processes to protect networks, systems and data from cyber-attacks. These are typically aimed at accessing, altering or destroying sensitive information, with some of the most common tactics being malware, ransomware and phishing. An effective cyber security approach consists of several layers of protection over potential targets, which cyber security professionals will oversee.
There is no single path to a cyber security job, and people get into it from many different angles. A cyber security degree is not always required, but qualifications in computer science or related areas will go a long way. What’s most important is that you have a profound interest in how technology works, as well as a deep insight into what needs protecting, and why exactly things are unsecure. Here are a few suggested ways to gain this understanding:
Train in IT
Starting in an IT role unrelated to cyber security will help you learn the fundamentals you need for a future a cyber security career. Learning coding, database management and system configuration will all come in handy.
Narrow your focus
Focusing on one area of cyber security will help you hone your skills. For example, if you wanted to go into web security, look into roles as a web developer first.
Be a self-directed learner
Gain as much knowledge and experience in your chosen field as you can. Investing in training courses, teaching yourself to code and joining local security groups are just some of the ways you can build your skillset. Formal qualifications from reputable examining bodies will also stand you in good stead.
As hackers launch progressively sophisticated attacks at an increasingly rapid rate, the cyber security industry will need all the help it can get. Unfortunately for everyone that isn’t a hacker, it’s the industry with the “largest human capital shortage in the world”, meaning that cyber security jobs are in high demand.
Businesses are seriously struggling to deal with today’s threat climate. According to the 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study, two-thirds of respondents admitted that their organisations did not have the number of cyber security professionals required. By 2019, more than six million cyber security experts will be needed globally, yet there are currently only 4.5 million people in full-time cyber security careers, leaving many roles unfilled.
Although there are many programmes out there aimed at increasing the popularity of cyber security careers path, the talent shortage is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, as a result of the increased threat level. The upside to all of this is that talented cyber security professionals are going to be highly in demand for years to come. If you’re considering going a cyber security job, or are currently in the field, you can be sure there will be plenty of opportunities for you to advance in the future.
There are a few core industries which regularly employ cyber security specialists. These include information technology, engineering, military industries, as well as the government and the security sector itself.
The number of opportunities for the various cyber security jobs varies between industries. Most security consultant roles, for example, are offered within the information technology sector, whilst the majority of CISSP experts are demanded by the government.
Cyber security firms themselves are also always on the hunt for new talent. Some of the leading firms in the world include Herjavec Group, IBM Security and Raytheon, and they are an obvious source of cyber security career opportunities.
One of the biggest changes within cyber security is the growing importance of ISO 27001 – the international standard for information security management systems. More and more organisations now implement ISO 27001, causing an increased demand for professionals who are qualified in accordance with this standard.
Another huge change in the industry is the increasing frequency of cyber attacks over the past few years. Threats through the Internet of Things (IoT) and Ransomware attacks are becoming more prominent, creating headaches for both businesses and IT professionals alike. Ransomware is particularly dangerous, as it can spread viruses latching onto confidential information that can only be removed if data owners meet a cyber criminal’s demands. Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) solutions have been heralded as the best defence against ransomware, and can automatically backup files when an attack is launched. Familiarity with these solutions is becoming very important to many cyber security roles.
With the aforementioned talent shortage within the cyber security industry, it is unsurprising that the future prospects for cyber security professionals are extremely promising. The already-high average salaries are expected to rise even further, and the working conditions are likely to become even more convenient. For example, an increased number of cyber security jobs will be home-based. Besides the competitive salaries, the flexibility and the multiplicity of job offers, cyber security specialists will also have the chance to work with cutting-edge technology.
A cyber security career requires a mix of both hard and soft skills. In terms of the former, you’ll need to be well-versed in cyber security fundamentals like carrying out risk assessments, developing functional security requirements and using security technologies such as IDaaS.
When it comes to soft skills, effective communication is highly sought after, as cyber security professionals often need to explain complex concepts both to clients and colleagues. You will also need to be very detail-driven in order to examine technical issues from all angles, and problem-solving and analytical skills are a must.
It is important to demonstrate your understanding of the latest information security principles and the best practices for software development and database security, as well as having an excellent knowledge of different open source applications. It should also be clear that you can conduct vulnerability assessments (including penetration testing), wireless security assessment and infrastructure solution implementation.
Make sure to talk about some of the most significant projects you have worked on, detailing what they were looking to achieve, what technologies you used, and how you succeeded with these different projects.
The employers’ expectations of cyber security specialists are extremely high, so you’ll need to come well-prepared for job interviews. One suggestion is to anticipate the type of cyber security problems a business might face and the solutions you’d come up with. You should also make sure you get to know your interviewers’ backgrounds before meeting them as it might reveal which types of questions they are likely to ask. Finally, be sure to check out the various online resources documenting typical cyber security interview questions, as these can be invaluable to your preparation.
The educational requirements for cyber security jobs vary. Generally speaking, it is advisable to have a degree in cyber security, mathematics, computer engineering, computer science or something similar. For more senior positions, it is beneficial to also have a master’s degree with a focus on information technology security. That said, some employers may still hire you if you only have a few years experience in the cyber security field in lieu of a degree.
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