Cyber security jobs have seen a lot of growth in the past few years. Fortunately, there are various ways to get started in this field. Many go to college and get a Bachelor’s or Associate IT degree. Others earn IT certifications to further their existing career. A few start out by earning in-demand cyber security certifications.
The number of cyber security certifications available offers those interested multiple pathways to enter the field. The challenge, however, is knowing which degree or certification provides your best path to success.
If you’re interested in the field of cyber security, you have a couple of choices. You can get a certification focused on cybersecurity. Or, you can get an entry-level IT job and start gaining first-hand experience. Entry-level jobs give you experience, while you work up to advanced training in cybersecurity.
A number of organizations, private companies, and government agencies love to hire cyber security experts. The following jobs for cyber security are great entry points:
- Network Administrator
- System Administrator
- IT Technician
- Web Developer
- Computer Software Engineer
Cybersecurity Security Paths
There are many career paths that someone with a security degree can follow. The title that you assume may vary from one company to the next, and your duties may vary too – you might be in charge of overall security in one firm and in charge of only teleworking risks in another.
Some careers paths include:
- Security in General – in charge of all aspects of security.
- Network security engineer – this is a role available in giant companies, in government and military. You will be in charge of the security of the network.
- Cloud security engineer – here, you provide security for cloud-based platforms.
- Application security personnel – you use software and hardware to protect applications from threats
- Identity and access management, IAM – this is a subfield of cybersecurity where a professional focuses on digital identity and access rights in an organization.
- Security architect – you are tasked with designing, building, and managing security frameworks and programs in an organization.
- Pen tester – your job here will be to legally hack into an organization’s system to identify vulnerabilities.
- Malware analyst – you will look into the structure of malware to determine what it does and its origin.
- Incident response analyst – you will be among the first responders to a security incident. First responders find a way to limit damage to company data and security systems.
- Security trainer – this is the person who offers cyber security training for employees, and any other person within an organization.
- Cryptographer – this is a person who creates a system to encrypt sensitive information to enhance user privacy.
- Security auditor – this is a professional who checks the effectiveness of security systems and suggests improvement steps.
There are so many more paths and titles. Professionals in this field should know what’s trending by looking at Cybersecurity Association for news and updates.
Keep an eye on the National Cybersecurity Society for news and updates on cyber security. A career in cybersecurity involves maintaining security systems and fighting off malicious hackers. With the increase in the number of hackers, a career in cybersecurity is an excellent choice.
A Closer Look at a Few Cyber Security Jobs
Simply put, cyber security focuses on securing computer systems against unauthorized access. It involves various practices on protecting computers, networks, mobile devices, and data from intruders. Hackers often launch malicious attacks against digital business assets. The cybersecurity team is there to prevent entry and to enforce the company’s CIA.
Cyber is a word often used when talking about networks, the Internet, or computer systems. Cybersecurity can also be called electronic information security or information technology security.
In 2019, the US government allocated $15 billion for cyber security and continuous monitoring. That amount continues to increase every year because more and more people rely on computers to do everyday things. And that reliance draws individuals who want to gain from other people’s fortunes. They will hack into networks and devices to get information. They commit a cyber crime to make money illegally.
You will hear the phrase “cyber security” used in many situations. They can include securing a mobile phone against intruders or locking down an entire network against hackers. Cyber security involves several contexts.
Security architects design, implement, and build computer security networks.
An ideal candidate for the job of security architect is someone with at least a Bachelor’s degree in an IT field or equivalent experience. That person should also have specialized certifications such as COMPTIA Security+. A typical entry point is working in an entry-level IT position.
Security consultants assess an organization’s IT systems to identify and analyze potential risks, loopholes, and active problems. The consultant doesn’t build a security network. Instead, that person guides organizations in risk management and protection of their sensitive IT systems and data.
For those interested in becoming a security consultant, the first step is to gain hands-on experience in the field. While gaining practical experience, work to achieve security certifications such as Cybersecurity Analyst CySA+, Certified Ethical Hacker CEH, and CompTIA Security+. There’s no direct path to becoming a security consultant. It’s best to gain certification while earning three to five years of experience in the IT world.
Penetration Testers and Ethical Hackers
One critical component of cyber security is simulating a cyber attack. Ethical hackers and penetration testers focus on making these simulations and use continuous monitoring to measure the cyber threat. They do penetration tests on networks, computer systems, and web applications. They want to find potential weaknesses. All risks and findings get discussed with management and IT experts.
An entry-level IT job is the first step along the path to becoming an ethical hacker. To gain the skills necessary for the job, individuals need to take certification courses focused on this career path.
On the job learning is essential for ethical hackers. Based on how well they perform, these individuals often work up to becoming security architects and security consultants in a short time. Organizations like the National Institute of Standards of Technology NIST often hire ethical hackers to test new security methods and procedures.
Chief Security Officer
The Chief Security Officer is the top-level security specialist within a given organization. Any of the three pathways above can lead to an ambitious individual gaining this position. It can take 10 to 12 years to climb to this position.In many organizations, the Chief Security Officer has a cyber security degree and an MBA. This allows them to balance the organization’s security needs and business concerns. People in this position often consult with experts at the NIST.
A Chief Security Officer often has cyber security management experience at some level of the company. Plus, they often hold advanced certifications such as Certified Information Systems Auditor and Certified Information Security Manager.
How Long Does It Take to Get the Necessary Cyber Security Skills?
A typical starting point for those entering cybersecurity is certification as a CompTIA Security+. At the same time, many choose to take the CompTIA Network+ course to gain knowledge about security issues on the network.
You need to pass an exam to get certified. How fast you get the certification depends on how much time you can spend on studying. You can take training classes to help you pass the exam. These classes can be as short as one month or last for six months. If you have experience in IT, you can use an online course to help pass the test.
If you choose to get a cyber security degree, it can take anywhere from two years to 5 1/2 years, ranging from Associate to Master’s coursework. However, even with a degree or certification, you still need practical experience in how cybersecurity works in the real world. With multiple pathways to entering the cyber security field, individuals have to consider how they want to go. Most qualified individuals balance practical experience and theoretical understanding. This helps them climb the corporate ladder. You can get cybersecurity training at universities, community colleges, tech schools, and training companies.
For those who already have IT experience, a good pathway is to take a training class on cybersecurity. That will give you some hands-on experience. Those just entering the IT world should gain experience in the classroom before taking the exam. Online classes and intensive courses can also help you prepare for the exam.
When you enter the cybersecurity field, you’re going to need to have extensive knowledge of various subjects.
Cyberattacks You Will Encounter on the Job
When a criminal launches an assault on a computer, network, or sensitive data, it’s a cyberattack. The criminal’s purpose is to steal sensitive data and information from the computer.
With the increasing number of online and e-commerce transactions in the past few years, software supply chains are vulnerable to many cyberattacks. Ransomware is a significant issue, especially in the healthcare industry. Hackers lock down vital computers and demand a ransom to remove the virus. Some organizations end up paying the ransom to avoid losing data and paying fines.
Hackers have come up with a variety of advanced persistent threats over the years.
DoS (Denial of Service) Attack – In this form of attack, cyber criminals send constant traffic to a vulnerable computer to make it too busy to do its regular work. It can take the system down, making it more susceptible to other attacks.
The Man-in-the-Middle Attack – With this attack, a hacker inserts their system between the client and the server. When the client computer leaves the session, the hacker’s system continues to communicate with the server. The server doesn’t know that the client is no longer there.
XSS Attack – This attack focuses on web page requests. When you request a particular web page, the hacker runs a script on your web browser. As the web page downloads, you get a malicious payload like a virus. In some XSS attacks, the hackers steal cookies, capture screenshots, and even access your computer.
Malware Attack – Malware is a common form of a cyberattack. It’s software that gets loaded onto your computer without your knowledge or consent. It gathers information from your computer and sends it to the hacker. This software can replicate itself across your entire network. You need robust software installed on all your systems to detect malware.
SQL Injection Attack – Many websites use data drawn from company databases. A hacker can use an SQL query to access the database server. A series of SQL commands can gain the hacker access to an admin role. It allows that person to see/recover content and to issue commands on the server.
Cyber Threats Come from All Angles
Hackers are always looking for new ways to access your system. It can happen due to a lapse in security. Or a careless employee can open the door to hackers with a thoughtless action. Once the hacker gains access to one system, the rest of the network becomes vulnerable to attack. Let’s look at some common forms of cyber threat faced by those in jobs for cyber security.
Phishing – Your employee gets an email that looks like it comes from a reputable company. The email is asking for sensitive information like credit card numbers or a personal id/password. This is a phishing attack. It works by deceiving a person into revealing crucial personal information.
Ransomware – A piece of software takes over a computer and locks out the admin. The hacker sends a message to the user asking for a certain amount of money to restore access to the account. This is cyberterror.
Social Engineering – Cyber attacks don’t just happen through the Internet. They can happen on your company premises. The criminal poses as an exterminator or a fire marshal. They walk through the business without anyone stopping them. They use their access to steal information kept in files, on employee desks, and on laptops that aren’t secured.
DNS Spoofing – A hacker gains access to your computer. Then, they set up a fake IP address through your browser. The server redirects you to a fake website that asks for personal information or credit card numbers. The hacker can use that information to commit identity theft and financial fraud.
How to Prevent Cybersecurity Issues
One out of every three Americans is the victim of a cyberattack every year. And that statistic keeps getting worse every year. That’s why cybersecurity has to be a critical focus for anyone doing business today.
Cyberattackers don’t discriminate. While large companies are obvious targets, an increasing number of small and medium businesses are getting attacked every year. Small businesses are the target of over 40% of cyberattacks. And more than 40% also don’t have adequate data recovery procedures in place. On average, a small business loses around $200,000 due to cyberattacks. That can shut many small businesses down permanently.
Preventing these advanced persistent threats is the best way to handle risk management. Here are ten steps your company can take to prevent successful cyber attacks.
Train employees on cybersecurity threats. Set up regular classes and team meetings for this subject. Review the rules for availability, confidentiality and system integrity. No one should be exempt, including the CEO.
Install malware detection and antivirus software on each computer, smartphone, tablet, and devices that access your company’s network.
Require the use of the company firewall for anyone accessing the Internet
Keep all software, hardware, and network systems updated with security patches. Out-of-date software can leave you vulnerable.
Keep multiple backups in more than one place. Store it on the cloud and in a physical location outside the office.
Limit who has admin access to computers. Use proper security programs to define and implement these roles.
Keep your WiFi secure by hiding it from outside individuals.
Give each user an individual account. This makes it easier to track breaches with security programs.
Use clearly defined user roles to limit employee access to sensitive information.
Require workers to use strong passwords and to change them regularly.
A Few Cyber Security Best Practices
Information technology security needs to be a priority at home and work. For those who have jobs with cyber security, educating employees and coworkers about best practices can keep your network safe from hackers. Let’s look at five guidelines everyone needs to implement to avoid becoming a victim of cyber crime.
- 1. Don’t interact with any emails, links, or pop-ups that you don’t know. Merely clicking on a link you don’t know can leave your computer vulnerable and lead to harm to every device on your network.
- 2. Do not share company photos or workspace pictures outside the company. It’s a matter of respecting intellectual property and protecting any sensitive data visible in the background.
- 3. Implement and enforce the use of strong passwords and two-factor authentication. You may find creating a new password every 60 days to be too much. However, two-party authentication sends a security code to your smartphone before you can access the company systems.
- 4. Never use a public WiFi or network without protection. Use a virtual private network when you use public or third-party WiFi.
- 5. Install antivirus and malware detection software to all devices. Set up backups for your sensitive data. That way, if you get hit with a virus or cyber attack, you can recover without hassle.
- 6. Become familiar with the General Data Protection Regulation. Obey its rules and educate others on what it means. This will help the company keep its ICA (integrity, confidentiality and availability).
What are the Risks of Poor Cyber Security?
This shows why poor cyber security can have adverse effects on both individuals and organizations. It impacts the customer’s trust and the company’s potential market. Jobs with cyber security are the front line in preventing this from happening.
A single data breach or active virus attack can stop your company’s operations immediately. This interruption in operations can affect your ability to order stock or to check on your inventory. This can lead to customer service problems and financial issues, which could be irreversible.
If you decide to pay the ransom on a ransomware attack, it could drain your available cash reserves. This can delay business growth and deteriorate the business’ level of prosperity. Plus, even if you pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee the hacker will actually restore the system.
A growing number of companies are paying fines for data breaches and cybersecurity framework problems defined through the General Data Protection Regulation. Authorities are becoming more vigilant in uncovering data breaches. Companies can face hefty fines if a data breach occurs due to improper regulatory practices.
Access the cybersecurity workforce and get ready to land a job in less than a year with in-depth, hands-on training from the University of Central Florida Cyber Defense Professional Certificate program. Learn the skills you need to excel in your new cybersecurity role.