In this article, cyber security expert Damon Culbert outlines the current state of the industry and explains how you can get a job in cyber security
Cyber security is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide. As businesses in every niche struggle to keep the hackers at bay and governments set their sights on data protection, proper security staff are in high demand and short supply.
Getting a job in cyber security could be a great chance to step your feet onto the job ladder, both for those just starting out and those looking to switch to something they’re more passionate about.
With the introduction of GDPR in the EU, even small businesses must now take responsibility for their online safety or face business-ending consequences. 37% of SMEs in the UK have no cyber security plan, leaving them increasingly more vulnerable as cyber threats become more complex and dangerous. Over the next few years, the need for cyber security departments in many businesses, as well as the number of companies looking for cyber contractors are sure to increase.
37% of SMEs in the UK have no cyber security plan
The top five most vulnerable industries globally are:
With none of these being specifically related to internet services, it will be interesting to see how this affects the cyber security job market, as many professionals may find themselves in unexpected places working to keep the systems of schools, universities, hospitals and factories safe.
Across the world, the demand for cyber security professionals grows daily. The shortage of necessary staff is reportedly almost 3 million already, which could be a great thing for those about to hit the job scene. However, it is important to remember that the cyber security industry holds high standards of their recruits. With many employers putting the safety of their entire business and their clients’ personal data into your hands, they have to be sure you’ve got what it takes before they’ll hire you.
While in most professional industries, requiring a degree is a given. However, cyber security provides opportunities for those without highly relevant education as long as candidates can show they’ve got the skill and discipline to do the job well.
Whether you’re working towards a degree in computer science or you have a completely unrelated job history and a passion for (ethical) hacking, most cyber security recruiters will be looking for evidence that you will be able to enter the job and get straight down to work.
Common ‘hard’ skills for cyber security include knowing code (C, CC+, Python, Ruby), understanding different operating systems and having experience with firewall and intrusion detection protocols. Specialist interests in certain fields will also be important when it comes to writing a CV and attending interviews. These can include, Cisco, cloud computing and cryptography.
One of the biggest issues for tech recruiters is finding computer science graduates with enough evidence of ‘soft’ skills such as working as a team, leading a team, decision making and problem-solving. One of the best ways to showcase this before you start your jobs search is to take part in or take a lead role in group projects at university or identify examples of where you have successfully worked as a team in your past work experience. Recruiters will also appreciate candidates who have involved themselves in capture the flag-style online cyber security activities as part of a team.
For those with little practical work experience, a willingness to learn and passion for the job will set you apart from the crowd and could be what gets you the job. Try building your own systems and then hacking them or work on open source projects in your spare time. Not only will this help you practice, but it will show your dedication to the industry.
In addition to a wealth of industries employing cyber security staff, cyber security jobs are hugely broad. Many entry-level security jobs are not necessarily security-based roles. Jobs like systems admin aren’t specific to cyber security but will give you an opportunity to focus on security and progress to a role more closely suited to your passions with experience.
Most people don’t land their dream job in the first go but, by following these tips and getting some solid experience under your belt, cracking the cyber security industry will be a breeze.