In case you haven’t noticed, one of the tech arena’s persistent issues is cybersecurity.
A quick glance at leading annual reports shows that, even putting vested interests aside, security online is a persistent issue – and visibly growing, if you watch the stats.
With all the escalating statistics, you might imagine cybersecurity to be a booming arena, and you’d be right! Indeed, there are frank estimates of how many cybersecurity professionals will be needed by 2022, since the IT industry is pretty pedantic about its status.
Put differently, digital life is as quantified as any other sector, with perhaps even greater accuracy around employment statistics than other industries. It’s not hard to see rising trends and the potentially available (or needed) people to address them in IT, because industry bodies – and peripheral authorities, too – monitor tech realities closely each year.
Ask a reputable IT support company like Computers In The City how cybersecurity has evolved over the last decade, and they’ll confirm two things: 1) cybercrime has grown like an unavoidable fungus on the body of IT life and 2) things are actually getting more complex and sophisticated, as well as quantitatively more pronounced, when it comes to cybercrime.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that means only high-value entities are targeted－cheeky but simple ploys are also recycled every so often, and they target consumers as much as businesses, and (in some cases) prefer them.
What is a cybersecurity expert? What do cybersecurity professionals do, and is the field growing?
Perhaps it’s best to encapsulate what cybersecurity deals with to then define what’s required of a cybersecurity operator. For starters, you’ll definitely be able to move out of mom’s house, because cybersecurity pros are typically well paid.
A cybersecurity expert is someone who safeguards the company (and hybrid-individual) information, as well as keeping the network safe from cyber-attacks of many hues. They have knowledge of past and current ploys used by cyber criminals and build systems to shut down possible weak endpoints or other vulnerabilities in how everyone lives online.
By most counts, cybersecurity personnel (at least in the American market) increased by more than 20 percent between 2006 and 2016. This tallies nicely with the cybercrime incident reports from the same period, showing a clear increase in criminal activity online, with an accompanying increase in professionals emerging to deal with it.
Those figures are still growing, with cybersecurity operatives doubling in number every 20 years or so at the current rate. The American Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a total of 2.5 million cybersecurity professionals being in play by 2022 in the US.
This time next year, that’s estimated to be a $170 billion market.
What does it take to become a cybersecurity pro?
Basic Computer Knowledge, Coding, and Programming
To start, you need a great deal of computer knowledge. That means a significant understanding of where computing comes from and how it’s applied today, shaping the very lives we live. It also means being able to code, and programming languages like Java, PHP, C++, and even HTML5 will stand you in good stead.
Understand Basic Architecture of Cybersecurity and Various Threats the second major component of the required computer knowledge is a solid understanding of the basic architecture of cybersecurity. You’ll need to understand what worms and viruses do, how they are built and employed, as well as knowledge of diverse fraudulent ploys, malware overall, and botnets.
Furthermore, understanding why information security is important is critical, too. You need to “get” the impetus behind any given company’s desire to safeguard their data and daily lives, and you’ll be the person they’ll be depending on to design systems and protocols to keep security architecture sound.
Risk Assessment Skills and Being Up to Date on Current Hacking Practices
Here, risk assessment is required, too.
You don’t have to be a former risk assessor from an insurance company, but you’ll need to be more current than anyone on what criminals will be up to next week, while still being able to run and monitor a routine daily security operation.
IT or Cybersecurity Experience In this field, experience really counts.
Don’t be dismayed if you have none because you might have more than you think. Any IT industry worker factors cybersecurity into everything they do in this day and age, so it’s very likely that in your IT career to date, you can lay legitimate claim to some participation in cybersecurity. That’s the minimum requirement.
If you’re hoping to sail right into a cushy top job, companies will look for more specific experience, like having conducted an IT security audit before, or having been part of an incident response team. You might have some management experience within cybersecurity, and be able to assess risks and formulate policy, while also developing that policy going forward, and train other staff.
Managerial and Communication Skills From the last point above, you might have realized that professional communication skills are paramount, too. If you’re more of a geek who wants to dazzle from a distance, being left alone to write some amazing code or produce some stunning apps, then perhaps cybersecurity won’t appeal to you.
As a cybersecurity professional, you are the person everyone turns to for cyber guidance. Everyone from the CEO down will be taking their lead on cybersecurity from you, so shrinking violets who might be brilliant coders yet lousy at communication are going to struggle with the demands.
Is it worth it to become a cybersecurity professional?
Remember that the pay is often good – and on that basis alone, becoming a specialist cybersecurity expert is definitely worth it. You might not join the ranks of the ‘massively overpaid’ like sports stars and actors, but you’ll be leaving mom’s place, and probably driving a nice care home to a very nice house every day. It’s that kind of professional echelon.
On the other hand, this isn’t an arena for lazy people. Cybersecurity pros are on call 24/7 because crime (or its flagging) can emerge at any time of the day and night on a 24-hour globe. And you can’t screw up. The potential losses from a ransomware attack or from a successful phishing breach can be bloody, and your head will be the first to roll if security fails. It’s definitely a high-pressure position.
That said, breaches that stem from successful phishing attempts aren’t your failing (and they’re very prevalent in the modern cybercrime landscape), and if you know your game, you can keep a tight net around your end of things. In cybersecurity, you need to be smart, and smart is conservative and extremely proactive with daily online security.
It takes a hawk’s eye and a lot of savvy to stay safe online, but the satisfaction of having your systems tested (and watching them effectively shut down incoming threats) is hard to beat.