Cybersecurity is an exciting, challenging, and flat-out essential aspect of today’s IT landscape. Organizations and individuals alike are concerned about Internet-related matters of privacy, data security, identity theft, hackers, viruses, and other issues. That’s why there continues to be a high demand for cybersecurity professionals.
To that end, this article provides a comprehensive cybersecurity job description covering definitions, roles and responsibilities, various career paths, and how to become a cybersecurity expert. Finally, we will conclude with an excellent opportunity for people who want to become cybersecurity professionals.
But before we explore cybersecurity roles, let’s define the term.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity, also called information technology security or computer security, is a collection of technologies, processes, and practices dedicated to protecting computer systems, data, networks, and programs from unauthorized access or being otherwise rendered inaccessible or damaged.
Information security, a broader cybersecurity-related category, concerns protecting all data and information assets, whether in hard copy or digital form.
Now that we’ve established that definition let’s move on to the actual cybersecurity job description. What does a cybersecurity professional do, and what are they responsible for?
What Does a Cybersecurity Professional Do?
A cybersecurity specialist is an expert in the field of information technology security. The position entails protecting all digital assets and their users, ensuring that networks are safe from external threats such as hackers or crackers who try to gain access for malicious purposes.
Here’s a sample of cybersecurity roles and responsibilities that a professional in this field can expect to handle.
- Implement and maintain security controls
- Conduct periodic security audits to determine security violations and shortcomings. This responsibility includes activities such as penetration testing
- Perform research, evaluation, testing, and deployment of new security technology and procedures
- Respond to all security threats, attacks, and similar events
- Develop firewalls to keep the network infrastructure secure
- Create and enforce information security guidelines, standards, and procedures
- Upgrade the network and infrastructure systems
- Grant appropriate permissions and privileges to all authorized users
- Configure the network’s anti-virus systems and consoles and update all cybersecurity software
- Identify and resolve potential and actual security issues
- Assess the organization’s current security situation, evaluate trends, and anticipate future security requirements
- Keep organization members informed by releasing performance reports and communicating system status
- Keep their cybersecurity knowledge current by participating in workshops or continuing education classes
Critical Skills and Requirements a Cybersecurity Professional Needs
As you can infer from the cybersecurity job description, the position demands that candidates possess the right skills and satisfy the appropriate requirements before assuming the role of a cybersecurity expert.
Here are the requirements and skills you need to pursue a cybersecurity career.
- A bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, information systems, information technology, telecommunications, computer engineering, or any related field. Alternatively, some organizations will accept equivalent education or work experience instead.
- At least one year’s verifiable work experience as a cybersecurity specialist or similar role.
- Hands-on experience in analyzing large amounts of network data, logs, and other attack artifacts.
- Knowledge of network security, penetration testing, and techniques used to expose and correct security flaws.
- Experience with vulnerability scanning solutions.
- A broad understanding of security technologies such as antivirus software, firewalls, proxies, SIEM, and IDPs.
- A familiarity with operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and MacOS. It would also be wise to be familiar with mobile operating systems such as Android and iOS.
- Optionally, cybersecurity professionals should consider a few certifications to round out their skill set. Here are the most common offerings:
- Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate – Routing and Switching (CCNA)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate – Security (CCNA-Security)
- CompTIA Security+
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) – Windows Server Administration Fundamentals
- Cybersecurity professionals need the soft skill of communication to convey technical concepts to laypeople and write incident reports that are understandable to all.
- Another valuable soft skill is collaboration since cybersecurity experts often work with other teams or departments (IT, legal, PR).
- Finally, cybersecurity professionals need the soft skill of critical thinking. They need to ask the right questions, evaluate data, understand context, consider alternatives, and use all this to make high-stakes decisions.
Different Cybersecurity Career Paths
Good cybersecurity professionals are equipped with a vast range of skills and talents, and those resources can help the professional move onto a different cybersecurity-related career path. Here’s a sample of specific cybersecurity job descriptions savvy professionals can take when they want to branch out and move on.
- Information Security Analyst. Information security analysts protect sensitive information. They are responsible for developing and implementing security strategies and policies, ensuring they are current and properly utilized, monitoring the results, and making necessary changes or adjustments. Some analysts also organize security training for other employees.
- Software Security Engineer. Software security engineers develop firewalls and intrusion detection systems. Their skillset must include a mix of soft and hard skills, such as software engineering, problem-solving, building client relationships, and learning new technology.
- Security Architect. The security architect’s main job is pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of the organization’s systems. Security architects also prepare budgets, allocate resources and personnel, manage IT security teams, and generate reports for the higher-ups.
- Penetration Tester. Colloquially known as “white hat hackers,” penetration testers (or ethical hackers) are recruited to attempt to breach an organization’s security measures using hacking skills and software. Their primary function is simulating cyberattacks to test the organization’s security programs and firewalls.
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). This leadership position is less about coding and more about vulnerability management, project management, and overall security management. To become a CISO, you must have years of cybersecurity experience and excellent organizational skills. Once you identify a company’s security risks, it’s up to you to develop strategies to mitigate them. CISOs are also responsible for human resources issues, training, and compliance.
- Information Security Crime Investigator. This position lies at a juncture between law enforcement and cybersecurity. Also known as computer forensics experts, these professionals investigate cyberattacks, determine who or what caused them, and exactly how the infiltration occurred. Although law enforcement agencies may not directly employ them, they typically work closely with them.
- Security Consultant. Would you like to go freelance? You could become a systems security consultant if you have enough expertise, the right connections, and are ready to enter the business world. These independent contractors offer their network security skills, knowledge, and advice to various organizations. You will need multiple analytical, communication, technical, and computer skills and experience to succeed in this position.
How Do You Become a Cybersecurity Professional?
Now that you have a cybersecurity job description and requirements as a reference point, you may wonder how you become a cybersecurity professional. Follows these steps to a career in cybersecurity.
- Education. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in one of the majors discussed earlier. Although it’s theoretically possible to get started in this career without a degree, it’s rare; best improve your odds by completing your education. Alternately, you may get by with an associate degree, provided some hands-on experience in cybersecurity bolsters it.
- Get certified. Check out the list of certifications mentioned previously, and consider earning several certificates. The more relevant certifications you earn, the more skills you gain, and the more valuable you will be to a recruiter.
- Network with like-minded professionals. As in other parts of the business world, IT connections can be of enormous value. Professional organizations, job fairs, and conferences provide great opportunities to meet other cybersecurity professionals and forge productive ties.
- Get relevant experience. Finally, get experience working in some cybersecurity capacity. There are entry-level positions and internships to consider.
Ideally, the best cybersecurity professional has the proper book knowledge, skill set, and hands-on experience. And since we’re talking about helpful cybersecurity certifications and skills, you’re about to get a fantastic opportunity.
Would You Like to Become a Cybersecurity Expert?
Skilled, certified cybersecurity professionals are in heavy demand, and you can be one of them after you complete this six-month online cybersecurity bootcamp.
This bootcamp will give you expertise in offensive and defensive cybersecurity, digital forensics, network security, and more so you can take your place in one of the world’s fastest-growing industries. You’ll acquire valuable knowledge in areas like:
- Business Continuity
- Data Management, Privacy, and Security
- Network Security
- Digital Forensics
- Identity and Access Management
- Incident Management
- Risk Management
- Threat Analysis