DevOps, Data Analytics and Data Governance are the three most in-demand skill sets in the field of cloud and data recruitment at the moment – but cyber security is about to join them. Knowing this, you may be wondering how to break into the field of cyber security, what soft and technical skills you need, and what the role would actually entail.

In this article, we will cover what you need to do to get into cyber security – whether you are a complete newbie or an experienced cybersecurity engineer.

What is cyber security?

The National Cyber Security Centre defines cyber security as “how individuals and organisations reduce the risk of cyber attack.”

They go on to say “cyber security’s core function is to protect the devices we all use, and the services we access – both online and at work – from theft or damage.”

Although this sounds like a simple task, it is a lot more complicated than just installing antispy or antivirus software onto your computer. It is actually a wide field consisting of many different disciplines all working together to best practices, to preserve the integrity, reliability and safety of digital systems and networks.

Why is cyber security so important?

We all live most of our lives online these days, from remote work to online shopping and social media.

This digital life comes with requisite data such as personally identifiable information, passwords, credit card numbers, health information and even sensitive documents such as copyrights and patents.

An online data breach could therefore expose this sensitive information to people who have malicious intentions and could cause severe embarrassment for individuals, reputational damage and even huge costs.

However, information theft is not the only goal of most cyber attacks – hackers sometimes compromise data integrity and attack infrastructure controls. These attacks are costing companies more and more money as hackers are constantly developing innovative ways to get to even the most protected data. In fact, records show that 300,000 pieces of malware are created daily and a cyber attack occurs every 39 seconds.

These statistics show just how important cyber security is, both at an individual and business level, in order to secure the data that we rely so much upon.

What jobs are available in cyber security?

There is a lot of talk at the moment about the cyber security talent gap with estimates stating there are as many as 3.5 million unfilled positions this year.

Couple this with the fact that a report from PwC states that less than half of companies globally are sufficiently prepared for a cyber security attack, and you can see there is a desperate need for skilled personnel in the cyber security industry.

Cyber security careers tend to be broken down into two categories: cyber security analysts and cyber security engineers. Cyber security analysts focus on creative problem solving, data analysis and research, while cyber security engineers are more technically focused and tend to specialise in how computer networks operate, how computers are sharing information in the network, and how to put up firewalls and gateways to control what is happening within the network.

Common cyber security analyst job titles include:

  • Compliance analyst
  • Incident analyst
  • Security hunt analyst
  • Threat intel analyst

Common cyber security engineer titles include:

  • Pen tester
  • Security engineer

So, what do you need in order to break into cyber security?

Basic educational requirements for cyber security jobs

Cyber security is a vast field with many different job roles, and this means the education requirements for cyber security can vary as well. Most entry-level cyber security jobs, for example, do not require a degree in cyber security or a related field even. However, most advanced cyber security jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree and some even demand a master’s.

If you want to be a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), for example, then you will need a master’s degree in cyber security or a related qualification, and at least 7 to 12 years of experience in a relevant field.

It is important to remember, however, that you can thrive in a cyber security position by gaining certificates throughout your career.

How to break into cyber security if you are in a different technical field

The good news is that a lot of skills you use in other technical fields are transferable to a cyber security role, although you may need to polish some of these skills – such as information systems or security ops. People in the fields of risk analysis and security intelligence are well-positioned to transition into cyber security.

Some of the most common technical skills needed in cyber security are:

  • Authentication – Authentication is the process of ascertaining a user’s identity allowing them access to digital resources – which is why it is such an important skill to have in a cyber security career. Cyber security professionals create new authentication schemes as well as audit existing ones for possible data breaches. They also need to be comfortable with Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and firewalls.
  • Coding languages – Many cyber security jobs require you to have familiarity with various cyber security coding languages.
  • Digital forensics – The investigative methods used to find anomalies and malicious activity on the network.
  • Information systems – How information is collected, processed, stored and distributed within and outside an organisation. An understanding of this is key to identifying breaches and building better protective measures.
  • Linux – This open-source operating system is most used by cyber security professionals as it is flexible and transparent – and so many cyber security tools such as testing and vulnerability analysis are developed on Linux.
  • Risk assessment and management – Possibly the most important skills a cyber security specialist can have as it entails identifying possible threats and analysing and evaluating the risks the company faces.

And when it comes to soft skills, the most important ones are:

  • Presentation skills Cyber security experts often need to explain very technical topics to people who are non-technical, therefore they need to be able to simplify complex topics and present them in an easy-to-understand manner.
  • Problem-solving skills Cyber security professionals need to be able to pre-empt problems and solve them before they even happen.
  • Teamwork – Most companies require a team of efficient professionals working together to solve complex problems.

If you want to strengthen your cyber security team, or are wanting to break into the cyber security industry, then please contact the experienced team at Agile Recruit.

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