Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing industries globally, growing at a rate of 36.5% through 2022 according Forbes. The reason for the high demand is quite simple, its has been extremely expensive for a company to get hacked. The average cost of a data breach in 2016 was $4million, and that number is only going to increase as companies continue to gather more information on their customers through the Internet of Things. One of the most recent outbreaks was the “Wannacry” ransomware, which targeted computers that ran the windows operating system by encrypting data and demanding payment through bitcoin cryptocurrency. This ransomware outbreak started in May 2017 and had over 200,000 victims with over 300,000 infected computers. With outbreaks like this becoming increasingly common, millions of people are looking to break into this very lucrative industry. However, due to the importance of the assets you are protecting the requirements for even entry level jobs can be difficult, particularly for someone coming straight out of university with little or no work experience. Here I have compiled a list of 5 skills that will help you stand out to the hiring manager and break into this quickly expanding field.
1) Threat Analysis
Threat analysis consists of utilizing your knowledge of an organization’s current vulnerabilities and matching that against real world cyber securities threats. This determines what presents the most danger to the company. Whether it’s internal or external, all cybersecurity jobs use some form of threat analysis, making it one of the most diverse skills on this list. If you’re unable to get a job that gives you the opportunity to practice this, a good substitute would be taking a class in critical thinking to help you get used to thinking analytically and from different perspectives.
2) Technical Aptitude
Hiring managers will not expect someone applying for an entry level position to have a high amount of experience, but they will be looking for you to demonstrate that you have been actively trying to learn cybersecurity. This can be through internships, school courses or even performing labs at home. You want to develop skills such proficiency in programming languages, the ability to read computer logs, computer science fundamentals and an understanding of common cybersecurity technologies and terminologies such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems, types of malware. In order to gain a knowledge of cybersecurity technologies you can use free web series such as this.
3) Clear Communication
Cybersecurity is an area that requires collaboration between not only your own team members but also other teams within the company in order to effectively respond to a threat in a timely manner. Within a company one team may be responsible for the initial detection of a security breach, but another is responsible for the initial response and another will be responsible for changing policies later on to ensure it can’t happen again. Hiring managers will want to know that you have the interpersonal skills necessary to work across multiple different teams. Also, as a cybersecurity professional you will need to interact with people who either don’t have the security knowledge that you do or that don’t have technical knowledge at all, for example high level executives. You need to be able to effectively explain complex technical concepts into simple terms for non technical people.
4) Reactive Planning (Problem Solving)
Within cybersecurity breaches will occur and for every hour that passes thousands or millions of dollars can be lost through halted business processes. This makes reactive planning an invaluable skill for someone looking to get into the field. Managers will be looking for you to give an account of a time when you were faced with a problem and the steps you took to resolve that problem.
Cybersecurity is an extremely dynamic industry with thousands of new vulnerabilities and threats being discovered every year. As a result, demonstrating that you capable of doing research and continuously keep up with the new trends in the industry is an important asset as a cybersecurity professional. You can develop this skill by reading up on industry trends and staying informed of what’s going on. There are a number of cyber security blogs that you can read to stay informed, many also offer the option of subscribing to a weekly emailing list so that the information comes directly to you, for example krebsonsecurity is a very popular one. Another good way to show employers that you are consistently following the industry would be to write a few blog posts on cybersecurity, you can do this as a freelance writer or you can create a blog for free on websites like wordpress.com.