There’s no doubt that cybersecurity has become one of the fastest-growing fields over the past couple of years, and we all know why. The damages from data theft and other forms of cybercrime have been on the rise, and are projected to be above $6 trillion by 2021. It’s also why it has also become quite normal to see countless government agencies, tech companies, hospitals and many other sectors investing in cybersecurity infrastructure to safeguard their business practices as well as their customers, who trust them with their data.
The job of a cybersecurity specialist is to maintain the network security system and software of an organization. That means that they have to create, test, implement and analyze the effectiveness of different security systems regularly. If you are looking to become a cybersecurity specialist, here’s what you need to do:
Get the right education
Quite recently, a website published a research article that talked of cybersecurity is as important as the three R’s: Reading, writing and arithmetic. While most education experts emphasize on the importance of incorporating cybersecurity studies into the regular educational programmes to increase awareness of security issues and ensure people grow up having the requisite security skills, being a cybersecurity specialist requires more than that.
It requires specialized cybersecurity training. The education requirements to become a specialist, however, vary a bit across organizations. Some employers would accept your associate’s degree as long as you also have a lot of work experience, but most employers prefer a bachelor’s degree in information technology, cybersecurity or computer science.
It is also important to advance your education by obtaining a master’s degree in cybersecurity to learn ethics, policies, practices and cybersecurity procedures while furthering your understanding of network security defence countermeasures. Luckily, most employers offer tuition assistance to help their employees meet this goal.
Get the right certification
Industry certifications are also great resume enhancers especially if you want to advance your career. Getting a certificate by passing an exam is the benchmark employers and even clients use to validate your knowledge and skills in the field. Some of the most common certifications include:
• Cisco Certified Network Associate
• EC-Council Network Security Administrator
• Certified Information Systems Security Professional
I also need to mention that certifications make you highly attractive because they show that you are goal-oriented and focused.
Ensure you have a solid programming background
Cultivate your soft skills
On the other hand, the soft skills, or the interpersonal skills that you require to excel in this field are important if you want to stand out as a professional cybersecurity expert. You need to understand how to work with other people and demonstrate the ability to lead. You also need to be able to build robust relationships, and that would particularly help you when trying to prevent fraud through social engineering, a method of attack in which a black hat hacker fakes identity to trigger exposure of a security flaw.
Other soft skills you require include:
• Written and oral communication
Learn the ins and outs of ethical hacking
While most schools will teach you the basics of hacking or the fundamental practices around hacking, it’s upon you to learn or sharpen your understanding of the most effective ways of combating cyberattacks- which you can achieve through a solid understanding of white hat or ethical hacking. With a good foundation of ethical hacking, you can be able to understand network vulnerabilities and suggest methods to strengthen your applications since you have a good grasp of the underhand ways of hacking, including how to break into networks.
Brush up your hard skills
The hard skills refer to the specific computer or tech skills that anyone in this field should have. They are as obvious as they are fundamental. Some of the most important ones include:
• Web applications, access management protocols and security practices
• Secure coding practices
• Computer routing and switching
• Operating systems
• Vulnerability assessment and reporting
As you may already know, excelling in the cybersecurity career is sometimes about who you know. Being able to connect with the right people is not only useful to get an entry-level position but move quickly up the ladder while securing better roles in your career. There are many ways and platforms to network, and one of the best ones are conferences. It might not be easy, but make an effort to be at places where there are security professionals, and make sure they know you.