At the time when nearly everything is done online, there is a growing need for businesses and organizations to protect their online space. Everyone and everything needs some form of protection. This is why businesses are now constantly in a desperate search for Security Specialists. An organization will use a security specialist to protect its software and network security system. As a Cybersecurity Specialist, you will be the go-to person responsible for the overall safety of your employer’s data. So, what then is Cybersecurity?
Cyber Security is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data from malicious attacks. It is also known as information technology security or electronic information security. In other words, it is the protection of computer systems and networks from the theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data. It also protects these devices from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide. (Wikipedia.com)
Cybersecurity can be divided into these common categories:
Network security: This involves securing a computer network from intruders, which can be targeted attackers or opportunistic malware.
Application security: This focuses on keeping software and devices free of threats. A compromised application could end up providing access to the data it was designed to protect.
Information security: This involves protecting the integrity and privacy of data, both in storage and in transit.
Operational security: This includes handling and protecting data assets such as the permissions users have when accessing a network and the procedures that determine how and where data may be stored or shared.
Disaster recovery and business continuity: This involves how an organization responds to a cyber-security incident or other events that might cause the loss of important operations or data. Disaster recovery policies show how the organization restores its operations to the same operating capacity before an incident. Meanwhile, business continuity is the plan the organization falls back on while trying to operate without certain resources.
End-user education: This category addresses people – the most unpredictable cyber-security factor. Anyone can accidentally introduce a virus to a secure system by failing to follow the appropriate security practices. Cybersecurity involves teaching users to delete suspicious email attachments, not plug in unidentified USB drives that may contain malware and various other important lessons that are vital for the security of any organization.
Indeed, there is a long list of specialization in Cybersecurity. Below is a brief explanation of who cybersecurity specialists are.
Who is a Cybersecurity Specialist?
Cybersecurity Specialist is a person that is responsible for providing security during and after the development stages of software and networks. A Cyber Security Specialist searches for risks in hardware and software systems. In other words, they manage and monitor all attacks and intrusions. The profession involves recognizing a potential threat or attempted breach by building firewalls into network infrastructures.
Cybersecurity Specialists play key roles in securing information systems. They monitor, detect, investigate, analyze, and respond to security events.
Responsibilities of a Cybersecurity Specialist
Cybersecurity Specialists are responsible for keeping cyber-crime at bay, using analysis, forensics and engineering skills to monitor and diagnose malware events and vulnerability issues. They also recommend solutions, including hardware and software programs that can help mitigate risk.
Cybersecurity Specialists typically design firewalls, monitor the use of data files, safeguard information and protect networks.
They are largely responsible for taking care of built-in security systems for software, hardware, and their components. Therefore, they must develop unique strategies for software systems, networks, data centers, and hardware.
As a Cybersecurity Specialist, some of your duties will include:
- Performing various security audits and analyzing logs.
- Providing support to all firewalls and network for operating systems.
- Scanning all network devices.
- Designing and enforcing all security standards and procedures in systems.
- Designing all security policies and guidelines for system security processes.
- Training colleagues – That is, you will be responsible for teaching employees the appropriate security procedures on all information security issues.
- Maintaining the required security standards and staying up-to-date.
Skills of a Cybersecurity Specialist
If you intend to pursue a career in Cyber Security, you will need to acquire a handful of hard/technical and soft skills.
The soft skills include:
- Collaboration: As a Cyber Security Specialist, you must know how to work closely with associated professionals in the IT industry. This can be challenging for recent graduates. However, Cybersecurity Specialists are expected to have broader collaborative and people skills, which involve working with colleagues to achieve set goals and objectives. The ability to become a team player and a problem solver speaks volumes about your value.
- Determination: Cybersecurity Specialists must not just be persistent with ever-changing threats, but also handle very difficult jobs to start. Persistence is key. As a Cybersecurity Specialist, you must be willing to work until the challenge is solved.
- Good Research and Writing Skills: As a Cybersecurity Specialist, you must possess strong research and writing instincts as it is an invaluable asset that each information security analyst must-have. Such skill comes in handy when experts execute policy creation and enforcement. This essentially means that you must conduct intensive research and work with end-users to understand how technology is used daily.
- Adaptability: Working in Cybersecurity means that you must be passionate about learning. Cybersecurity Specialists are continually learning the latest trends, technologies, and security challenges within the business environment. You must be passionate about learning and professional growth to be successful in this career path. Security is one of the fastest moving aspects of Information Technology and requires someone with a passion for knowledge and expertise.
Cyber Security Specialists show leadership through their credibility, responsiveness, and ethics. As a Cyber Security Specialist, you must earn trust from senior management, peers, and subordinates with excellent communication skills. An important skill to have is to understand the risks of the business, internally and externally.
The Hard/Technical Skills of a Cybersecurity Specialist include:
- Security Incident Management: As a Cyber Security Specialist, you must be able to handle any imminent threat or current violation of your organization’s security policies or standard security practices. These security incidents could include malware, ransomware, phishing, Advanced Persistent Threats, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, and more.
- Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): As a Cyber Security Specialist, you must be able to use security information and event management (SIEM) tools and services. You will need to be able to create automation with the SIEM and take the real-time analysis produced from alerts and translate that into incident response plans.
- Analytics & Intelligence: As a Cyber Security Specialist, you must be able to utilize analytics and intelligence gathering to identify and detect threats as quickly as possible. Using analytics and intelligence will allow you to aggregate network and application data to prevent future threats or attacks.
- Data Management Protection: As a Cyber Security Specialist, you will have to handle, analyze, and securely store all types of data which include character strings, integers, decimals, images, audio, video, and other multimedia types.
- Firewall/IDS/IPS Skills: You must also know how to utilize a firewall to filter network traffic and prevent unauthorized access to the network. Also, you need a knowledge of Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and how they relate to the firewall.
To pursue a career in Cyber Security, a secondary school background in Computer sciences and related fields is required. Although some employers accept Cyber Security Specialists with Associate Degrees, it is ideal to have a Bachelor’s Degree. The Bachelor’s degree can be in Computer Science, Information Technology, Telecommunications, Electronics & Electrical or any related field. Education programs for prospective Cyber Security Specialists typically focus on computers and networks.
Below are some institutions offering extensive coursework and accredited Degrees that can help you succeed in Cyber Security.
- The University of South Wales in the United Kingdom offers a BSc (Hons) Information Communication Technology that covers the development and use of ICT systems in business and industry and focuses on core business technologies. The tuition for international students is £13500 per year for full-time. A part-time study mode is also an option but fees are paid per 20 credits. The school boasts of 100% of its students being in employment or further study within six months.
- The University of New Brunswick in Canada offers a Bachelor of Computer Science that will help you prepare for your career through a mix of theory and practical experience, by adapting to this rapidly evolving field. The tuition for international students for this degree is $8,073. The university has 90% of its students in employment or further studies, six months after graduation.
- The University of Nevada, Reno in the United States of America offers a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems where you can learn about both business processes and the computer technology used to support and enhance those processes. The tuition fee for international students is $22,922.
The stages of career development for a Cybersecurity Specialist are:
- Entry-Level: System Administrator – Security Administrator – Network Administrator.
- Senior-Level: IT Project Manager – Security Manager – Security Consultant – Security Architect.
- Executive-Level: Chief Information – Security Officer – Security Director.
Job Outlook and Typical employers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that those in information security roles can look forward to a 28 percent job growth rate through 2026, which is faster than the national average of seven percent. This is also higher than the predicted 12 percent growth rate of other computer occupations. Some of the typical employers of Cyber Security Specialists include the federal government and healthcare organizations, Network providers, Banks, Schools and universities, Airlines, large organization with a database, and Security consultancy firms.
Famous Experts in Cybersecurity
- Georgia Weidman: Georgia is a security expert, researcher and author of “Penetration Testing: A Hands-On Introduction to Hacking”. She spreads her expertise across the world presenting at popular cybersecurity conferences including Black Hatand ShmooCon. Georgia currently works in mobile device security and was awarded a DARPA Cyber Fast Track grant to help support education.
- Brian Krebs: He launched his career as a reporter for The Washington Post from 1995 to 2009, as the author of the Security Fix blog. What sparked his interest in cybersecurity was when his entire home network was taken over by a Chinese hacking group. He shares these stories and his interesting experiences on Twitter.
- Rebecca Herold: Rebecca is an information privacy, security and compliance consultant. Today she serves on many advisory boards and participates in the NIST standards committee to help create privacy standards for the U.S. Smart Grid. Stay up to date on the latest privacy and data security news by following Rebecca on Twitter.
The average salary for Cyber Security Specialists in the United States of America is $133,080 per year as of February 26, 2020, but the range typically falls between $120,600 and $151,980 per year. (salary.com)
The average salary for Cyber Security Specialists is £53,387 per year in the United Kingdom. (indeed.co.uk)
The average Cyber Security Specialist salary in Canada is $87,241 per year or $44.74 per hour. Entry-level positions start at $63,538 per year while most experienced workers make up to $104,877 per year. (nuevoo.ca)
The average salary for Cyber Security Specialists in Nigeria ranges from 29,000 NGN (lowest average) to 315,000 NGN (highest average, the actual maximum salary is higher). (salaryexplorer.com)
Some other career paths that are similar to Cyber Security include:
- Database Architect
- Computer Programming
- DevOps Engineers
- Network Security Specialist
- Computer Security Specialist
- Information Security Specialist
- IT Security Specialist
Although these careers are aspects of cybersecurity processes, they differ because their experts only pay attention to specific areas of cybersecurity.
- The University of Law Business School Postgraduate in London offers an MSc Cyber Security and Data Governance that focuses on a combination of technology, business, and policy. The tuition is GBP 17,000 and it lasts for 12-18 months full-time.
- St Cloud State University in the United States of America offers an M.S. in Information Assurance for a $6,222 tuition and full-time and part-time options. The program lasts for 2-3 semesters.
Other professional certifications in Cybersecurity
- GIAC Security Expert (GSE) – This is the most prestigious credential in the cybersecurity industry. The cost of each GIAC exam is currently $1,899, which includes two practice exams.
- GIAC Security Leadership Certification (GSLC) – Intended for security professionals with managerial or supervisory responsibilities. Cost: $999.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – The certification is another elite credential in the information security industry. The exam is six hours long and includes a mix of multiple-choice and advanced innovative questions. It costs $699.
- CompTIA Security+ – This is a globally recognized certification, used as a benchmark for best practices in information security. The credential requires a single exam, currently priced at $339. Discounts may apply to employees of CompTIA member companies and full-time students.
- EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – The certification is designed for cybersecurity professionals who want to understand how to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in systems. This costs $500.
- Mile2 Certified Penetration Testing Engineer and Digital Forensics – This is a vendor-neutral certification, designed to train practitioners on forensics, digital discovery, and advanced investigation techniques. Cost: $500.
Thinking of kickstarting your career in Cybersecurity but you need further counselling? Drop your comments below or better still, send me an email. All the best!