Cybersecurity: Do You Have What It Takes?
According to the Cybersecurity Jobs Report, they predict there will be 3.5 million cybersecurity job openings by 2021.1 With all of these opportunities available, prospective cybersecurity candidates may wonder if they’re the right fit.
For starters, it’s important to remember that cybersecurity isn’t just about preventing cyberattacks. There’s an entire life cycle associated with the security and risk management process – from managing the core elements of computers and networks to overseeing the day-to-day work. This means there’s not just a growing need for cybersecurity knowledge; there’s a growing need for specialized cybersecurity expertise.2
The global shortage of properly trained cybersecurity professionals is rapidly accelerating due to increasingly sophisticated threats. A Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report, entitled "Hacking the Skills Shortage - A study of the international shortage in cybersecurity skills," surveyed information technology (IT) and security decision-makers across eight countries regarding the shortage and offers valuable information about building a more robust and sustainable cybersecurity workforce with the specific skills.3 Information Week IT Network also reports on this study and identifies the following skills that cybersecurity professionals might need also include:4
Information technology professionals identified intrusion detection as one of the cybersecurity skill sets in critically short supply. Intrusion detection involves identifying threatening activity that could compromise the confidentiality, integrity or availability of information, and intrusion detection falls into a few categories:
- Network-based detection identifies unauthorized behavior based on network traffic.
- Host-based detection uncovers wrongful activity on a specific device.
- Physical detection discovers threats on physical systems.4
Secure Software Development
Next on the list? Information technology professionals pointed to a deficit in secure software development skill sets. Secure software development is critical to an organization's security strategy, since data breaches can be successful due to vulnerabilities in software code, and commercial software requires routine patches.4
IT professionals also reported there was a demand for skill sets in risk mitigation, also called attack mitigation. Risk mitigation involves tracking identified risks, uncovering new risks, and managing risk throughout a project’s lifecycle. In addition, risk mitigation professionals are ready to address a cybersecurity attack immediately and formulate plans to contain the damage.4
Cloud security was also cited in a report issued by research firm ESG as a cybersecurity skill set seeing a deficit. As more organizations adopt cloud platforms, the need for cloud security experts is increasing. Today, cloud security is the target of several security threats including data breaches, system vulnerability exploits, hijacked accounts, inadequate diligence and malicious insiders.4
Finally, information technology and security professionals reported that network monitoring is a critical skill set in cybersecurity defense. All cyberattacks are based on getting malware or spyware inside an organization, and while sophisticated network monitoring apps are essential for identifying suspicious behavior, organizations also need professionals who know what to look for and who can make quick decisions when suspicious behavior is detected.4
Cybersecurity: It’s Not Just About the Technology
As cybersecurity gains more executive-level attention, in addition to having a professional profile that includes specialized technical skills in cybersecurity, it may be important for job candidates to be able to demonstrate soft skills as well.
Cybersecurity is continuously evolving. Tomorrow’s ransomware and botnets will look and behave differently than today’s ransomware and botnets, and therefore cybersecurity professionals need to be naturally curious and open to exploring new cybersecurity landscapes. Candidates who have a willingness to learn new things and think outside of the box will likely be more comfortable attacking problems without known solutions, and with which they might not have any previous experience.5
“Big Picture” Thinking
In some instances, an organization’s response to a cyberattack will require split-second decision-making. To make these decisions, cybersecurity professionals need to have a solid understanding of business operations’ “big picture,” so that they can evaluate the consequences of various responses. For example, sometimes the best response to an attack is to immediately “pull the plug” on the system under siege but to do so, cybersecurity professionals need to know what effect this will have throughout the organization.6
Cybersecurity professionals should be passionate about technology, and about cybersecurity in particular. Anyone who gets comfortable fighting threats in the same fashion may find that their methods become outdated, and their companies may be subject to breaches. To be successful, you have to relentlessly work to identify new weaknesses before they become weaknesses and look forward to cyberattacks as a challenge, not a headache.7
Cybersecurity professionals interact with other departments on a routine basis to communicate the importance of safe technology habits and create awareness about the risks of poor IT hygiene. This means cybersecurity professionals must have the ability to communicate highly technical information in a way that is easy for non-technical personnel to understand.8
Research and Writing
One responsibility enterprise cybersecurity teams have is to create policies and enforce them. Regardless of industry or size, all businesses need a security plan that includes end-user guidelines, incident response protocol, and governance structures. To create appropriate policies, cybersecurity staff must be able to conduct thorough research of industry best practices and work with end users to understand how they use technology on a daily basis – then synthesize this information into thoughtful corporate cybersecurity policies.6
Military experience can also be a “plus” for applicants looking at cybersecurity jobs. For starters, military veterans have demonstrated the ability to learn new skills and concepts, and many have even received training in advanced technologies in existence today. In addition, military veterans are capable of performing under pressure, and they know how to be persistent - staying with a task until it is done right. As an added bonus, many veterans also come with highly sought-after security clearances already in place.5
Pursuing a Cybersecurity Degree
Colorado Technical University’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity degree program offers students the opportunity to develop the fundamental knowledge to help prepare to pursue career opportunities developing network security systems and protocols that ensure the protection of valuable data. Our students participate in a curriculum that is built on a broad foundation of industry-relevant concepts related to computer forensics, vulnerability assessment, security compliance, and software assurance.
Are you interested in learning more about cybersecurity? Request information from a CTU Admissions Advisor.
1. Morgan, Steve. “Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018-2021.” CSO. Retrieved from: https://cybersecurityventures.com/jobs/ (Visited 5/3/18).
2. Beaver, Kevin. “It’s Wise to Specialize: Choosing the Right Path for your Cybersecurity Career.” Security Intelligence. Retrieved from: https://securityintelligence.com/its-wise-to-specialize-choosing-the-right-path-for-your-cybersecurity-career/ (Visited 5/3/18).
3. McAfee. “Hacking the Skills Shortage.” Retrieved from: https://www.mcafee.com/content/dam/enterprise/en-us/assets/reports/rp-hacking-skills-shortage.pdf (Visited 5/3/18).
4. Sheridan, Kelly. “7 Cybersecurity Skills in High Demand.” Information Week. Retrieved from: https://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/security-and-risk-strategy/7-cyber-security-skills-in-high-demand-/d/d-id/1326494 (Visited 5/3/18).
5. Olenik, Doug. “Top 10 Most Desired Traits for Cybersecurity Job Candidates.” SC Media. Retrieved from: https://www.scmagazine.com/top-10-most-desired-traits-for-cybersecurity-job-candidates/article/689345/ (Visited 5/3/18).
6. Thibodeaux, Todd. “5 Soft Skills Young Cybersecurity Professionals Need to Get Ahead.” Dark Reading. Retrieved from: https://www.darkreading.com/cloud/5-soft-skills-young-cybersecurity-professionals-need-to-get-ahead/a/d-id/1325896 (Visited 5/3/18).
7. Corrin, Amber. “Is cybersecurity the right job for you?” FCW. Retrieved from: https://fcw.com/articles/2014/01/23/cyber-workforce-finding-right-fit.aspx
8. Collar, Alliey. “7 Characteristics of Next Generation Cyber Professionals.” Orion. Retrieved from: http://www.oriontech.com/characteristics-of-the-next-generation-of-cyber-professionals/. (Visited 5/3/18).
For important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program, go to www.coloradotech.edu/disclosures. CTU cannot guarantee employment or salary. Not all programs are available to residents of all states.
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