Cyber security is the process of protecting networks, sensitive data, and electronic devices from unauthorized access, theft, destruction, and interruption. It is necessary for policies to be introduced to protect digital assets from cyber-attacks, including viruses, malware, phishing, hacking and other cyber threats.
The rapid advancements in the field of technology have resulted in a rise in cybercrime worldwide. Criminal acts that involve the internet or computer networks are referred to as cybercrimes. Cyber-criminals use technology to perpetrate a variety of crimes, including identity theft, cyberbullying, malware attacks, hacking and phishing, among many others.
In order to deal with these problems, it is essential to have a qualified and skilled individual who can prevent instances of cybercrime. A cyber security analyst is a professional who specializes in protecting computer networks and digital systems from cyber threats.
Cyber security analysts aim to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and accessibility of information by identifying and responding to cyber events. To prevent these dangers, cyber security analysts also teach consumers how to use technology safely.
These professionals analyze network data, monitor security systems and investigate security incidents to identify potential threats and vulnerabilities. They also develop security protocols and implement security measures to prevent cyber-attacks.
Why is cyber security important?
Cyber security has emerged as a crucial component of safeguarding sensitive data and systems against cyber-attacks in the digital era. A huge number of complex interconnected systems and gadgets have been developed as a result of the widespread use of technology in contemporary society, from banking to healthcare. Due to the growing dependence on technology and the consequent need for cyber security, the sector has experienced substantial development, making it a desirable career choice for individuals interested in security and technology.
The rise in the volume and seriousness of cyber-attacks is one of the main drivers of the cyber security industry’s expansion. Cybercriminals are increasingly deploying malware, data theft and blackmail to target people and businesses, increasing the frequency, intensity and severity of cyber-attacks. In order to safeguard themselves and their clients, corporations and organizations are substantially investing in cyber security, which has increased the demand for cyber security specialists.
The dynamic technological environment is another factor contributing to the development of the cyber security industry. With the continued development of cutting-edge technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI), security flaws are created that are difficult and challenging to protect. Corporations must safeguard their data and systems and therefore greatly value cyber security personnel with experience in these fields.
The cyber security sector offers many opportunities for career development. Work opportunities for cyber security specialists include positions within healthcare facilities, governmental bodies, technology firms and financial institutions. They can seek higher certifications and degrees to strengthen their abilities and experience in fields such as ethical hacking, threat intelligence, and network security.
The top cyber security skills for 2023
Having the necessary technical and professional abilities is essential to land a position in the field of cyber security. Working in cyber security entails using a variety of technical and interpersonal skills to safeguard the data and information of your company.
Cyber security analysts combine their technical expertise and workplace skills to identify security flaws and address security issues. If you have an IT background, then you may already possess many workplace skills and a number of technical skills adaptable to various occupations.
However, it is necessary to consider what technical and workplace skills you should concentrate on developing. We have compiled a list of cyber security competencies (10 technological skills and five workplace skills) that employers are seeking in potential cyber security employees.
Top 10 technological skills
Scripting is a type of coding in which you create programs and software that automate several sequential tasks or procedures. Scripts have the capacity to move graphics and text. On the other hand, coding is static. Studying scripting languages such as PowerShell or Python to construct tools and automate repetitive tasks could improve your productivity and performance as a cyber security analyst. The Python programming language is among the simplest and easiest to learn, as well as one of the most used in cyber security.
Learning assembly language is essential in cyber security – it can assist you in comprehending how the malware operates and can aid in your defense against it. You can also master the following coding or programming languages in order to have a successful career in the field of cyber security:
2. Finding or detecting intrusion
Keeping a close eye on the entire network for potential threats will make up a sizable percentage of your responsibilities as a cyber security analyst. Knowing how to use intrusion detection software, such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS), security information and event management (SIEM), and intrusion detection systems (IDS), may help you quickly identify unauthorized conduct or security breaches.
3. Regulatory frameworks and controls
A cyber security framework, which provides a collection of best practices, regulations, resources, and security processes, can be implemented to safeguard an organization’s information and business activities. Control, on the other hand, is a technique used by the company to counter threats and vulnerabilities.
The framework you employ will change based on the company and sector. It could be useful to gain knowledge about a few well-known cyber security frameworks, such as:
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
- System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC 2)
- International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
- Center for Internet Security (CIS)
4. Control over network security
A number of hackers or cyber-attackers target a network of connected devices. The same technology that allows companies to collaborate may also lead to security problems. To keep a firm secure, you must fully comprehend wired networks and wireless networks and how to safeguard them.
Network security refers to all the procedures used to protect the privacy and integrity of the data stored on a computer network. Network security is essential because it protects sensitive data from hackers and ensures dependability. To protect clients and companies from malware and online dangers, effective network security policies include a variety of precautions.
5. Understanding of virtual machines and operating systems
Risks to security exist within all operating systems, including personal computers and mobile devices. It’s necessary to be highly knowledgeable about all the operating systems and their console user interfaces to set yourself up for success as a security analyst. These include Linux, Windows and Macintosh. Similarly, studying the dangers and weaknesses related to mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS could also be valuable to you. You can practice and study in solitude using virtual machines (VMs), which can help you improve your abilities.
6. Cloud security
As more businesses switch to cloud-based systems, professionals with cloud security knowledge are in high demand. According to research from GIAC Certifications, knowledge of cloud computing security may lead to a salary raise of over $15,000. In the coming years, there will be a 115% increase in demand for individuals having cloud security capabilities, making it the most profitable area of expertise in the sector.
7. Response to an incident
Although cyber security aims to prevent security incidents from happening, minimizing harm and loss requires prompt action when they do. Knowledge of the organization’s incident response plan and proficiency in malware investigation and digital forensics is necessary for effective incident management.
Applications frequently have security vulnerabilities. With the purpose of ensuring that applications are safe from the outset, an increasing number of businesses are incorporating a security focus into the DevOps phase of their processes for developing software.
9. Threat recognition
Know your opponent. Becoming a more effective cyber security analyst can be achieved by keeping up to date with the threat environment. To lessen and eliminate risks or hazards, cyber security professionals use education about security awareness. These efforts are designed to help people understand their role in preventing information security breaches. Those who receive thorough security awareness training understand how to use good cyber hygiene, are aware of the risks associated with illegal activity, and can spot cyber-attacks.
10. Regulatory principles
A company’s cyber security must shield it from intrusion, theft and loss, while still abiding by industry rules. Knowledge of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can be beneficial if you work for a firm that conducts business globally. Knowledge of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a requirement for cyber security analysts working in the healthcare sector. Moreover, certain US states adhere to their own privacy regulations.
Top five workplace skills
Cyber security relies heavily on verbal and textual communication. You might be asked to explain technical concepts to executives or members of legal departments if they do not come from a tech-savvy background. Additionally, you could be expected to write incident reports in which you must concisely and accurately outline what you achieved.
As a cyber security analyst, you will likely be expected to collaborate with other security teams or other cyber security professionals within or outside your organization. You might also need to cooperate with the administrative, IT and PR teams inside your company, and also share your findings with other businesses and those within the cyber security sector.
3. Risk management
Your ability to take into account all possible bad outcomes, assess the degree of risk, and calculate the potential effects provides you with the ability to focus your efforts on the areas that will have the most impact.
Cyber-attacks are always getting better and modified by malicious hackers or cybercriminals. Unfortunately, the risks of different kinds of cyber-attacks are also increasing along with the rapidly advancing technologies. By cultivating a continuous learner attitude, you can keep up with these advances and breakthroughs (or keep a step or two ahead of them).
5. Crucial reasoning
Those working in cyber security may find themselves in situations where they have to make key decisions about the company’s security. Gaining the ability to think critically and make critical decisions can help you with the following:
- Make the proper inquiries.
- Determine your presumptions.
- Analyze and evaluate the data.
- Understand the context.
- Think about alternatives.
- Draw data-driven conclusions.
What makes the cyber security field a good career choice?
Cyber security is an up-and-coming field of computer science that has been attracting a lot of attention lately. Below is a list of six significant reasons why cyber security is a great career to pursue for people with an interest in computer sciences.
1. Increased demand for qualified professionals
There is a significant demand for cyber security specialists due to the rise in cyber-attacks and the importance of digital security. This need is anticipated to increase over the coming years, making cyber security a reliable and successful career path.
2. Competitive salaries
The increasing demand for cyber security experts means that salaries in this industry are also competitive. Information security analysts were paid a median annual salary of $102,600 in 2021, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3. Diverse job opportunities
The field of cyber security offers diverse job opportunities, from beginner-level roles to advanced-level positions. The most common roles in cyber security include security analyst, penetration tester, network security engineer, security architect and chief information security officer, among many others.
4. Opportunity to learn and grow continuously
The field of cyber security is continuously changing, with new cyber risks and weaknesses appearing all the time. This makes cyber security a gratifying and intellectually fascinating form of employment, as specialists in the field must constantly acquire knowledge in order to stay abreast of new advancements.
5. Option of pursuing self-employment as a career choice
Individuals with solid cyber security skills have the ability to start their own businesses by setting up a team and offering employee security services. Moreover, since most of the work is computer-based, people with the right education and skills have the opportunity to work remotely from the comfort of their homes. This is a great advantage for many, especially during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
6. Contribution to society
Experts in cyber security are essential in defending against cyber-attacks and protecting people from fraudulent activity, economic damage and other types of cybercrime. You can directly benefit the community and contribute to the development of a safer online environment by pursuing a career in cyber security. The services of a cyber security analyst are required in every possible field, whether it is healthcare, environment stability, transportation, education or social justice. Therefore, these individuals not only make a handsome income, but also give back to society.
How can you get involved and pursue a career in cyber security?
If you are interested in a career in cyber security, you can start your journey by doing some of the following:
- Education: The first step that is compulsory to enter the field of cyber security involves acquiring the right education. Earn at least a bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a similar subject. To land even better job opportunities, aim for a master’s degree. If you wish to work while getting your master’s degree, then enroll yourself on a cyber security master’s program online.
- Entry-level positions and internships: Look for internships and entry-level positions in the cyber security sector to gain actual experience. A number of organizations offer these work opportunities to help students or recent graduates get practical experience.
- Certifications: To prove your understanding and skills in the cyber security sector, you should also get certifications from reputable organizations, including Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
- Networking: To connect with individuals working in the sector, attend cyber security seminars or events and join professional associations. This can assist you in finding employment prospects and gaining knowledge from seasoned cyber security experts.
- Volunteering: Another excellent method to develop your skills, gain experience and contribute to the cyber security community is via volunteer work. For example, you could offer your assistance to neighborhood organizations or local non-profits to help them enhance their cyber security.
The main factors driving the increased growth in the cyber security sector are the growing risk of cybercrime or cyber-attack, the constantly changing nature of technology, and the expanding demand for cyber security specialists. Cyber security is a fantastic choice for people seeking a career in technology and security as it offers the prospect of interesting and lucrative work.