So, you’ve been working in the tech sector for a while and you’re looking to specialise in a particular area, and that area is cyber security. Typically a niche field of IT, you’re unlikely to start your career as a security architect or a penetration tester, which raises the question, how do you get your foot in the door?
What is cyber security?
A cybersecurity analyst protects company hardware, software, and networks from cybercriminals. The analyst's primary role is to understand company IT infrastructure in detail, monitor it at all times, and evaluate threats that could potentially breach the network.
As a cybersecurity expert, you will have a huge range of career options across a wide variety of industries (e.g. finance, government, retail, etc.). Those who are most successful in cyber roles tend to have strong problem solving skills, great attention to detail, and strong communication skills.
Where to start.
There is no one true path to working in cybersecurity. People come at it from all angles and walks of life, but a common shared interest is finding out how technology works: you need to know exactly what you’re protecting and the reason why things are insecure.
Most cybersecurity experts will start out with a job, internship or apprenticeship in IT, which will provide fundamental knowledge in the technical side of the job, and also gain a sense of IT procedures and real-world business operations.
Getting practical experience.
As cybersecurity is a broad industry, it is virtually impossible to become an expert in all different fields. Due to this, most people will focus on a particular aspect of cybersecurity and develop relevant knowledge and skills. A top tip is to do some research and think ahead to where you want your career to be in 3, 5, then 10 years. Some areas you could choose to focus on are:
Once you’ve chosen your path, it’s key to build up your experience through jobs, volunteering, self directed learning or guided training. It can also be helpful to find yourself a mentor who is working in the role you are interested in, joining relevant social media groups and keeping up to date with industry trends - the world of cyber can change and develop very quickly.
Writing a killer CV.
When you come to apply for a job in cyber, a well crafted CV can go a long way. From speaking to employers, the ideal cybersecurity candidate will have a range of technical and soft skills. On the technical side, things to showcase include:
- Your grounding in IT fundamentals with relevant examples - networking, systems administration, database management, web applications
- Your experience in day to day operations - physical security, networks, server equipment, enterprise storage, users, applications
In terms of softer skills, employers want people who:
- Can communicate effectively with IT and non-IT colleagues
- Are team players
- Understand business processes
- Are keen problem solvers
Some of the hard cyber skills you can learn are below:
- System/network configuration
- TCP/IP, computer networking, routing and switching
- Network protocols and packet analysis tools
- Firewall and intrusion detection/prevention protocols
- Packet Shaper, Load Balancer and Proxy Server knowledge
Programming and coding
- C, C++, C# and Java
- Python, Ruby, PHP, Perl and/or shell
- Assembly language and disassemblers
- Regular Expression (regex) skills
- Linux/MAC Bash shell scripting
Operating systems and database management
- Windows, UNIX and Linux operating systems
- MySQL/SQLlite environments
If you are ready to take the next step into a cybersecurity role, you can apply here today.