What You Need to Know for a Career in Cyber Security

How often do you use a piece of technology in your everyday life? Many of us are connected to some form of tech almost all of our waking hours – whether we’re working on laptops or computers, browsing the Internet on tablets, or even just scrolling through social media feeds on our phones during a spare few minutes in the day. We even have devices that help us track our fitness goals when exercising.

So while we’re surrounded by technology, it may be that some of us think about having a career that involves working on it – and possibly even cyber security. This is an important part of running a business, whether that’s a large corporation or a small brand, so it’s imperative to have someone who has sophisticated knowledge in this area.

If this sounds like the type of career you want to have, then there’s plenty you need to know to find out about getting one of the many cyber security jobs that are available to you. Here’s some intriguing and interesting information for you, whether you’re just getting started or want to get more experience in this area.

You get to solve puzzles

There is always a new puzzle for you to solve here. There are new risks that are created with each new wave of technology that comes along. So, if you have one of the many cyber security jobs, it’ll be your responsibility to identify these threats, understand them and help to deal with them. These risks will change considerably when looking at how to protect websites that are running in the cloud compared to a pacemaker in a patient, for instance. It means each situation is a new puzzle and a chance to rise to the challenge.

There’s a great amount of variety

Working as a security professional means you will have the opportunity to work directly with teams on systems and technology you may not have thought of. It may be cars, or robots, or websites that are used by millions of people: there’s so much variety available to you here.

So you’ll have an exciting career ahead of you – it’s unlikely that you’ll be bored in these types of roles. You’ll also need to have a broad set of skills to understand the security challenges of today, as cyber security professionals come from different diverse backgrounds: the more variety there is in your background, the better you’ll be as a security professional.

You need to have technical skills

There are many sub-disciplines – but there are common technical foundations shared between many of these cyber security jobs, too. You should be able to manage operating systems (eg numerous Linux distributions and Windows), as well as understand their architecture and administration, plus know about networking and virtualization software. You’ll also need to understand network load balancers and firewalls, plus common programming languages among other topics.

Many employers will require you to have certain certifications before you’re hired, and these qualifications will be a major factor in this process; they show how much you know about this sector. You should also get good industry experience to acquire the correct skills, too.

Use code from a trusted source

This is especially important with open source software, where it can be redistributed by anyone who wants to do so. You shouldn’t download an open source program from the first place you find it but, instead, from the original developers or a trusted download center, such as official open source software repositories supported by major Linux distributors.

Not all open source codes are completely open

Some open source platforms may include parts of closed-source code, and this is true with most Linux distributions, for instance. Certain hardware devices will be powered by parts of proprietary firmware – meaning small parts of the code in the systems won’t be open, although most of it will be. You won’t be able to trust these closed parts like you would with open ones and, ideally, you’d work around the issue by avoiding this type of firmware. However, you should be aware they exist and only the original developers know what the code is that’s running in them.

Your password policy should be enforced

Hackers build careers in working out passwords, and use many methods to do so. This can include automated tools, spyware and even from details they’ve got about a person online. So if you’re in one of the cyber security jobs working within a business, then you should set a password policy and make sure it is enforced. It should ensure employees:

  • Have strong passwords no less than 10 characters long, with a mix of numbers, symbols, plus upper and lower case letters
  • Reset passwords every three or six months
  • Don’t use the same password for different accounts
  • Never share passwords

Your data access should be controlled

One study suggests a typical company will lose 5% of annual revenue to employee fraud – so it’s important that access to such valuable information is managed, particularly online. Network tools should be used to protect confidential details and sensitive files, and see who has accessed information at certain times. Levels of access should be assigned depending on what an employee needs to know, with administration rights available to only a few people. Regularly review access rights and alter privileges when required.

You’ll need to educate employees

The methods a cyber criminal uses can be numerous, but company employees should be advised on some key points to help prevent issues arising. This can include:

  • How to identify suspicious links
  • Looking out for fake emails, with misspellings and demands to act swiftly
  • Verifying the source of emails asking for personal information before replying
  • Not downloading attachments from people they don’t know

You should also offer employee awareness and training on these. Highlight the importance of company security, the employee’s role in it, and how it affects customers plus the brand’s reputation. Workplace security will be dependent on employees’ participation and knowledge.

You can also get educated yourself for cyber security jobs. This means you’ll be prepared to protect businesses from data theft and cyber attacks. You’ll also learn about the technical and soft skills needed for those who work in these roles, plus prepare for other relevant certifications.

You’ll get great job satisfaction

This sector is evolving constantly – which means you’ll come across new problems all the time that need to be solved, and companies will want to invest in those people who can help them in this way. So you’ll consistently be working with organizations that will want to further your development and education, and you’ll be learning all the time.

There are fantastic opportunities for career progression

For those people who want to have a cyber security job, there are great opportunities available no matter what your background. Entry-level IT roles you could consider include computer software engineer, systems administrator, IT technician and web developer – and, from these positions, you could become a security manager or architect, penetration tester or even a chief information security officer.

You can choose your industry

You’ll have highly-transferable skills when working in this area, which will be in demand from many brands – and in many different industries around the globe. The requirement for cyber security will increase as companies become more reliant on technology. So, with cyber security jobs, you could work for a technology giant, in banking or finance, for a government or in the media.

Being detail-orientated is a must

It can be difficult to detect cybersecurity threats. This means that to work in information security, you have to be focused on those details of a security system. You’ll have to be aware of any potential issues, as well as taking note of any changes that may occur.

You’ll need to communicate with people

Your role will mean that you’ll have to provide education to users by highlighting how important cyber security is to them, and what they need to do to protect their data. So you will need to have good written and oral communication skills because you’ll have to communicate all of these details in a way that’s both engaging and clear.

Being creative is crucial

Being in cyber security jobs requires you to have a forward-thinking approach to your role. That’s because you will need to be able to predict attacks and always stay one step ahead of all potential threats. That means it’s crucial for you to use your creativity for this aspect of the role.

You should create a security system

You will need to have a security system using your company’s employees that is organized from the bottom up – which isn’t like traditional admin structures, where rule enforcement and operations are handled from the top. This all begins by securing those devices that the employees use within the business.

Use the cloud

You’re less likely to lose critical data if you save it to the cloud, although there are still risks involved in this. Using the cloud for your data storage is a great and economical option if you work for a small or medium-sized business – and, as the company grows, your cloud storage and security can also be scaled. There’s a constantly improving list of options for the cloud, too, so you will always have the most up-to-date items available to you for both security and storage.

Automation is essential

It will be important for you to learn about and use the centralized controls available to you in any cyber security jobs you may have. This means that you should implement any security changes, such as applying patches to systems and locking down any vulnerabilities. You’ll be able to save many hours of your time over the length of your career by using configuration management tools, relying on policy settings and even simple scripts, for example. This will reduce the chance of errors or issues happening, because these approaches will be more effective than manual intervention.

You’ll never be able to test enough

You will need to test any security-related changes in an environment that’s as close as possible to your live production one before you release them. Some of these updates will be complicated, and may end up giving you results you may not have expected.

So, for example, disabling an old protocol could lead to problems with older databases – and the link between the problem and the change may not be obvious immediately. You will have to look at the results from your testing for both your systems and your users’ systems when you put any changes in place during testing.

Network with other people

Look out for someone who has a style you like and ask them if they want to mentor you. Email or call them, and make it clear in that first contact that you’ve put in the effort. You should make it as easy as possible for them to help you: people will be willing to help others who are eager to work and are just getting started.

You may also wish to intern with a company. See if you can write scripts for them, go through their data or even edit their blog posts: these actions could help, and may lead to an interview for one of many cyber security jobs at some point in the future.

There will be lots of skills you will need to learn as you start out in a career in cyber security. Not only are there a great number of technical skills that you’ll have to acquire, but also others that you may not have thought of – such as educating employees at companies for whom you work. You can also be creative in this sector, too, and your skills will let you pursue whatever path you wish in this area.

Does this still sound like the type of career that you’re looking to get into? Then see what you need to do next so you can get hold of those cyber security jobs you want to have.