As a cybersecurity professional, you are critical in safeguarding your organization from potential online threats. With your expertise, you are responsible for proactively identifying vulnerabilities and potentially mitigating risks in a company's networks, data centers, and software systems.
This involves conducting thorough scans and assessments, analyzing network data, and ensuring that all hardware and software applications are up-to-date. The ultimate goal is to prevent cyber attacks and protect sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is crucial to protecting sensitive information in our digital age. It covers various techniques, such as protecting against identity theft, encrypting data, and removing malicious software to maintain electronic information security. In today's world, where we rely heavily on technology for personal and professional activities, strengthening our cybersecurity measures has become imperative. Although complete security can never be guaranteed, taking proactive steps toward enhancing it can reduce the potential harm posed by cyberattacks.
What are the benefits of a career in Cybersecurity?
As a dynamic and ever-evolving field, cybersecurity offers numerous career growth prospects and exciting possibilities. While protecting sensitive information and data from digital attacks requires a high level of responsibility, it also provides ample financial and professional rewards. Cybersecurity professionals collaborate with IT experts, such as software developers and programmers, to safeguard their organization's digital assets against potential cyber threats.
Cybersecurity job roles
1. Cybersecurity Analyst
A cybersecurity analyst protects an organization's information by planning and executing security measures and continuously monitoring their effectiveness. They secure information confidentiality, integrity, and availability by preventing unauthorized access or disclosure. The analyst must have an in-depth knowledge of offensive and defensive security principles and be able to communicate their findings to technical and non-technical personnel.
2. Cybersecurity Engineer
The demand for cybersecurity experts rises as the digital world expands. Cybersecurity engineers are responsible for creating systems to secure digital information from threats. This involves constructing firewalls, encryption systems, and intrusion detection systems. They also collaborate with penetration testers to discover system vulnerabilities and prevent potential exploitation.
3. Cybersecurity Specialist
A cybersecurity Specialist is tasked with identifying and remedying security weaknesses in a company's system, implementing security policies and procedures to prevent future attacks, and investigating data breaches. Due to the rising threat of cybercrime, being a Cybersecurity Specialist is a lucrative career option for those interested in the security field.
4. Cybersecurity Architect
The role of the cybersecurity architect is vital to any organization. They are responsible for creating, executing, and supervising all elements of a company's cybersecurity plan. This ranges from creating security policies and procedures to overseeing security technology. A Cybersecurity Architect must possess extensive knowledge of technology and business operations to excel in this position.
5. Cybersecurity Manager
The cybersecurity manager is accountable for establishing and executing security protocols to defend an organization's computer networks and systems. Collaborating with IT team members, they assess security threats and create plans to reduce them. The manager also supervises network activity and takes action during security incidents.
6. Penetration Tester
A penetration tester also referred to as a pen tester, is tasked with examining an organization's computer system for security flaws by attempting to hack into the system. Upon discovering vulnerabilities, the tester offers suggestions on how to address them. This is a technically demanding job requiring comprehensive computer security knowledge.
7. Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) plays a critical role in an organization's cybersecurity team. The CISO develops and implements security policies and procedures to safeguard the organization's digital assets. They collaborate with the security team to ensure all systems are secure and serve as the top cybersecurity expert, protecting sensitive data against potential attacks and threats.
8. Cybersecurity Consultant
A cybersecurity consultant is an expert in identifying and resolving security threats to computer networks. They are often hired to evaluate an organization's security measures and suggest upgrades, provide expert testimony in legal proceedings, or assist in investigating data breaches.
What are the key cybersecurity skills?
1. Networking and system administration
Computer networking is a crucial skill for anyone entering the field of cybersecurity. Networking forms the foundation of the internet, and understanding it is vital for success in this industry. To pursue a career in cybersecurity, gaining a comprehensive understanding of networking is crucial. This involves studying data transmission, transfer, and reception between connected devices and familiarizing yourself with routing models such as TCP/IP and OSI.
2. Technical skills
3. Cloud security
The demand for cybersecurity specialists with cloud security skills is increasing rapidly. Companies seek experts with security expertise for both public and hybrid cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Azure. As more organizations turn to cloud infrastructure for data storage and application management, professionals must implement policies and technologies to secure these cloud-based systems. Those with experience managing large platforms like Microsoft Azure, AWS, and GCP are in particularly high demand.
4. Risk identification and management
Identifying potential risks before they occur is a valuable skill for cybersecurity professionals. The ability to identify, manage, and mitigate risks is a crucial skill set that will be in high demand in the years to come. Combined with technical expertise and experience in cybersecurity, it enables professionals to effectively identify the most significant threats to companies and allocate resources effectively for maximum security.
Top cybersecurity certifications
1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The CISSP certification from (ISC)² is one of the most highly regarded credentials in the cybersecurity industry. Obtaining a CISSP demonstrates expertise in IT security and the ability to design, implement, and oversee a comprehensive cybersecurity program. To be eligible to take the CISSP exam, you must have at least five years of cumulative work experience in two or more of the following eight cybersecurity domains: Security and Risk Management, Asset Security, Security Architecture and Engineering, Communication and Network Security, Identity and Access Management, Security Assessment and Testing, Security Operations, and Software Development Security.
2. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
This certification from the IT professional organization ISACA showcases your proficiency in identifying security weaknesses, developing and executing controls, and demonstrating compliance. It is one of the most well-known certifications for careers in cybersecurity auditing. To be eligible, you must have five years of experience in IT or IS audit, control, security, or assurance. A two- or four-year degree can substitute for one or two years of experience.
3. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
The CISM certification from ISACA verifies your expertise in the management aspect of information security, covering areas like governance, program development, and program, incident, and risk management. To be eligible to take the CISM exam, you must have at least five years of experience in information security management. You may substitute up to two years of this requirement with general information security experience. You can also waive one or two years by holding another recognized certification or having a graduate degree in a related field of information security.
4. CompTIA Security+
CompTIA Security+ is a fundamental cybersecurity certification that showcases your core security knowledge. Holding this certification demonstrates your capability to assess an organization's security posture, secure cloud, mobile, and IoT environments, comprehend laws and regulations related to risk management, and respond to security incidents. There are no specific prerequisites to take the Security+ exam, but it is recommended to have the Network+ certification and a minimum of two years of IT experience with a security emphasis.
5. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
The CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) certification offered by the EC-Council is recognized for demonstrating proficiency in ethical hacking, also known as white hat hacking, penetration testing, or red team. With this certification, you can show your knowledge in identifying and exploiting vulnerabilities, detecting and preventing attacks, and assessing security risks. To be eligible for the CEH exam, you must have at least two years of work experience in information security or complete an EC-Council-approved training course.
6. GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC)
The GSEC certification from Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) is a foundational security credential for those with some background in information systems and networking. Holding this certification verifies your proficiency in security functions such as active defense, network security, cryptography, incident response, and cloud security. There are no mandatory requirements to take the GSEC exam, but prior experience in information systems or computer networking is recommended to enhance your chances of success.
7. Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
The SSCP certification from (ISC)² verifies your ability to establish, implement, and oversee a secure IT infrastructure. The certification exam assesses your expertise in various security areas, including access controls, risk analysis, security administration, incident response, cryptography, network, communications, systems, and application security. To be eligible for the SSCP exam, you need at least one year of paid work experience in the security field or a bachelor's or master's degree in a related cybersecurity program.
8. CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)
The CASP+ certification is aimed at experienced cybersecurity professionals focusing on technical skills rather than management. The exam tests advanced knowledge in enterprise security, risk analysis, software vulnerabilities, cloud and virtualization security, and cryptography. Candidates must have at least 10 years of IT administration experience, including 5 years of hands-on security experience, before taking the CASP+ exam. There is no formal prerequisite.
9. GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
With the GCIH certification, you can prove your knowledge of offensive tactics in cybersecurity, such as common attack methods and vectors, and your ability to identify, respond to, and defend against attacks. The exam focuses on incident handling, computer crime investigation, hacker exploits, and tools. There are no mandatory requirements for taking the GCIH exam. However, it is recommended to have a basic understanding of security concepts, networking protocols, and the Windows command line.
10. Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
The OSCP certification from Offensive Security is highly sought after by penetration testers. The exam evaluates your capacity to hack into multiple target machines, perform exploitation steps, and produce thorough penetration test reports. There are no set prerequisites for the exam. However, Offensive Security suggests knowing networking, Linux, Bash scripting, and either Perl or Python and completing the Penetration Testing with Kali course.
Is a cybersecurity certification worth it?
The cybersecurity industry is experiencing significant growth and is predicted to reach an increase of $270 billion by 2025. Cybersecurity experts with a combination of technical and soft skills are in high demand and often receive high salaries. A study by (ISC)² found that 70% of cybersecurity professionals in the US are required to have a certification by their employers. Holding certification can result in a salary increase of $18,000. Additionally, having the right security certification can make you more appealing to recruiters and hiring managers.
The demand for cybersecurity professionals is growing at an accelerated pace as the frequency of cyberattacks continues to rise, and the methods of malicious actors become more sophisticated. Companies rely on cybersecurity experts to protect their systems and prevent data breaches while ensuring the optimal performance of critical IT assets.
As a result, there is a significant demand for individuals with technical, functional, and soft skills who can effectively address the challenges in the field. A survey by (ISC)² found that 70% of US cybersecurity professionals surveyed required certification, which could result in an average salary increase of $18,000. Thus, a cybersecurity certification can help individuals stand out to employers and open up new opportunities in this thriving industry.