Cyber security is as important as ever, remaining a critical priority for any business that hopes to protect its assets and preserve its success. As such, there is an ever-increasing demand for highly skilled security experts, with the specialist knowledge and dedication to keep businesses at the cutting edge of security best practices.
If you aspire to become such an expert, then you will already be aware that there are many facets to cyber security. While this does mean there can be a lot to learn, it is also true that you can find a niche that suits your specific skills and preferences, and make it your own.
As with any career, however, there are a range of skills and best practices that recruiters and potential employers will be looking out for. Here are some tips on making yourself a prime candidate for a job in the cyber security industry, and how to apply these traits once your work begins.
1. A Solid Core Skill Set
Naturally, there are several skills that are helpful to have if you intend to work as a cyber security professional. On a basic level, it is beneficial to have an attentive and analytical mind, a strong work ethic, and great attention to detail. Of course, there are also several key technical skills that can also be of great benefit. These include, but are not limited to the following:
● Programming proficiency, and knowledge of assembly and scripting languages.
● An understanding of network architectures, evaluation and testing protocols, and comprehension of the mechanisms by which routers and switches operate.
● A broad grasp of all general software development, architecture and administration, networking, and systems administration skills.
● Comprehension of security framework development, network load balancing, and firewall management.
Completing relevant certifications within your field can also help to support your portfolio, but experience and illustrative examples of your work are just as valid. After all, recruiters and their clients are searching for individuals who are able to take the initiative, think outside the box, and demonstrate the depth and breadth of their knowledge.
2. Flexibility and Dedication
Cyber security is a round-the-clock profession, and even once a security solution is in place, you could be called upon at short notice to repair a fault, solve a user query, or even to implement damage limitation strategies in the event of a breach.
Depending on your role within the security industry, this could mean handling sensitive data, working unsocial hours, and coming up with time-sensitive solutions to potentially damaging security breaches. As such, your willingness to work flexible hours, and to give your full attention to the smooth running of a business’ cyber security, is likely to work in your favor.
In addition, this often means you may need to come up with ingenuitive solutions to security concerns, in order to prevent any disruption of the business’ service.
3. An Understanding of Prevailing Cyber Security Niches
The chances are that you may already have an idea as to which area of cyber security you wish to enter into. However, it is wise to develop your understanding of a broader spectrum of security applications and requirements, so you always have a fallback option.
Furthermore, you never know when disciplines may overlap, so a comprehensive knowledge will prepare you for any unconventional challenges that you may encounter along the way. For example, you may be hired to establish and maintain the security framework for an ecommerce business, meaning you will need firm knowledge of data protection, transaction protection, and onsite security protocols.
However, this same position could also overlap into overseeing social media interactions, and protecting the business from the potential for infiltration or exploitation via these platforms. Often this is as much a case of putting security regulations in place for users to adhere to, as it is managing the general security of the network and business accounts.
4. A Focus on User Education
However much you may know your stuff, for your cyber security expertise to truly pay off, you need to ensure that individuals using the systems for which you are responsible are up to speed with security best practices.
A significant proportion of cyber security breaches stem not from a weakness in the system itself, but from user error. As such, part of your responsibility as a security expert is to educate your clients on how to protect themselves and their business interests from cyber threats.
● Following best practices for password management.
● Raising awareness about the hazards of unverified emails and social engineering scams.
● Teaching good security hygiene with regards to mobile devices, flash drives, and other external devices which may have access to the network.
● Educating users about appropriate use of social media, and protecting their personal data while online.
In addition to ensuring that users have sufficient knowledge to protect themselves and their networks, you should also liaise regularly with your clients to ensure that you understand their needs, and are able to cater to them effectively.
For example, if your client runs an online storefront, they may need you to build a secure framework for handling customer data, processing transactions, and storing data for future use. This also means you need to be up to date with data protection legislation, and ensure that your clients know what is expected of them in order to remain within the law. Even if they are using a secure ecommerce solution, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. Commitment to Continued Learning
Finally, to excel within the field of cyber security, you need to be prepared to keep on learning. New threats and exploits come to light all the time. Meanwhile, new security technologies, authentication strategies, and fixes for exploits are always being developed.
In order to provide the best possible service to your customers, you will need to know about all of these developments as they happen, and be prepared to adapt and upgrade security strategies accordingly.
The tools of one year may not be effective come the next, so you will need to be willing to continuously change your approach, get to grips with different software, and have a comprehensive enough working knowledge of developing tech to explain your decisions to your client or employer.
There are many ways to break into the cyber security industry, and the best advice is simply to focus on your preferred area, and reach out to recruiters and employers within that niche. In the meantime, you should work on expanding your skillset, broadening your security knowledge, and researching the needs of businesses within your chosen sector.
Your dedication and specialist knowledge will enable you to stand out from the crowd, and give you a greater chance of recruitment into a position that you are not only happy to fill, but at which you can excel.