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Secrets to Building a Career in Cybersecurity
Looking to start a career in cybersecurity? But need clarification about how to get started? Whether you are a beginner, a mid-level executive, or an experienced professional, a cybersecurity career is a possible dream.
This article will take you through some key pointers to help you break into this field and stay there, no matter when you start!
Step 1: Self-Observation, Self-Examination, and Self-Reflection
To create a fantastic career in cybersecurity, you first need to understand yourself. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, both personally and professionally, to make sure this career is right for you in the long haul.
While not a comprehensive list, someone aspiring to enter the cybersecurity field should ideally have the following qualities other than the core technical proficiencies −
An Analytical and Creative Mind set
You should enjoy the process of problem-solving and be excited by new challenges, even in high-pressure situations. Being able to think like hackers, thieves, and scammers would require a logical and inquiring bent of mind. Solutions are only sometimes textbook. You must be imaginative and think outside the box often to catch very clever criminals.
Curiosity and a Love of Learning
In cybersecurity, problems and ways to tackle them are constantly evolving. Refrain from being satisfied with the knowledge you have. Read extensively and keep yourself updated on the latest trends. Cyber-criminal techniques continue to grow and change, and no area is risk-free.
Diligence and Attention to Detail
These two skills go hand-in-hand. The tiniest blip or change in code can point to a potential threat. You need the patience and persistence to comb through finer points and track suspicious movements, especially in phishing.
Excellent Communication Skills
Cybersecurity does not mean sitting at your computer 24*7. Conversation with your and other business departments about risk in simple but easily understandable terms is key.
Good Listening and Observation Skills
Information about potential attack sources comes from other teams, departments, and company members. Knowing the company's exact security objective is crucial for tackling it effectively. For example, ransomware attacks on significant companies and infrastructure and supply chain attacks on third-party software must be handled differently.
Step 2: Understand the Domain
Cybersecurity is not a single domain with a single focus. There are many subdomains within the broad area, such as Cloud Security, Forensic Intelligence, DevSecOps, Security Engineering, Security Operations, and Identity and Access Management.
Research the specific nature of the job – the daily duties, career potential, and expectations. Keep a watch on the most in-demand roles in the sector if you are looking for rapid career growth. Also, be mindful of your requirements, such as family and health. Some specialties may involve a lot of travel, whereas others can offer you a settled lifestyle.
Another aspect of chewing over is the sector you want to work in. Cybersecurity is not limited to the IT Industry. Almost all industries, be it agriculture, education, or health, now need active Security Operations Centres (SOCs) and experts to man them. You should also weigh the benefits or costs of working in private versus public sectors. Be very specific in what sub-domain you choose, so you can prepare in a focused manner.
Step 3: Start Preparations Based on Your Current Position
The preparation mode to enter the cybersecurity job market varies depending on whether you are fresher or a working professional.
Preparing as a Novice
There's no need to worry if you have specialized in areas other than cybersecurity during undergraduate studies. Aim to concentrate on this domain if you are planning on graduate programs.
Keep hope if you have completed your formal education yet to learn this area. You can study for certifications in your chosen specialization. For example, the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2 offers courses (with examinations) and industrial training. Other certifications include Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), ISACA, CompTIA Security+, and GIAC, valid and well-recognized certificates. These boost the chances of you being recruited for roles in cybersecurity auditing, entry-level risk, compliance, cloud security assessment, and network security, respectively. Start with the basics and work your way up to the niche areas. Make full use of the free resources online and any internships/training you can attend.
You will make quite a good candidate with thorough knowledge during the interview, certificates, and/or practical exposure in the field.
Preparation for a Seasoned Professional
If you have been working for a while and are trying to transition into cybersecurity, it's possible. You just need to adapt your skills to better fit the role.
Ideally, you should have existing technical expertise that you can build on. Add additional skills in the closest cybersecurity subdomain to a solid base to create your personal edge. This could be through higher education, certifications, diplomas, or other educational courses.
For example, if you have a Programming background, you can switch to Application Security since both are based on coding. With a Network background, you could shift to Network or Cloud Security just like an Exchange Administrator would do well in Email Security. The skills and experience you add to your resume determine your brand and employability. So choose wisely.
The COVID-19 pandemic, remote working, and less-secure home networks have increased the scope of cybersecurity even more. With a global workforce, security is no longer limited to the corporate office, and cyber criminals also have many more opportunities. For all those trying to build and sustain a career in cybersecurity, always keep upskilling through professional networks. Gain as much experience as possible so you have a vast problemsolving capacity, observe senior experts, and work on improving soft skills. Attending conferences like DEFCON, BlackHat, or company-specific events will be helpful. Following these tips can help you carve out a thriving place for yourself in cybersecurity.
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