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What do people working in cybersecurity do?
The appeal of careers in cybersecurity-related fields is rising due to the frequency with which organizations are experiencing data leaks and cyberattacks. As the world deals with these new threats to businesses, consumers and governments, multiple cybersecurity job roles have been created.
The primary responsibility of these professionals is to help safeguard valuable data and information from theft, loss or corruption.
The different types of jobs in cybersecurity
Modern organizations cannot afford to ignore cybersecurity and the ability of cybersecurity professionals to safeguard digital ecosystems from internal and external threats. Digital ecosystems can only operate effectively when data, information, communication, and intellectual property are protected.
As a cybersecurity professional, you’ll be able to serve in different types of roles. The nature of the job you can get and the associated earning potential depend on your level of education, the industry you’re working in, and your experience.
Information Security Analyst
The security analyst examines and audits an organization’s security policies and protocols. The aim is to recognize existing weaknesses that can become doorways for internal or external attacks. Information security analysts must also predict future flaws, which allows their organizations to stay ahead of the game.
An information security analyst’s job description includes:
- Identifying security breaches by examining networks
- Applying information security trends in enhancing an organization’s security
- Analyzing, recording and reporting past security breaches
- Enabling computer users to manage their security products and processes
- Creating policies that can oversee overall organizational security
When working towards becoming a security analyst, you may first start as an applications system analyst, then become a senior analyst position, and later a systems analyst specialist. It is vital to add that the median salary for security analysts is $102,600 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
At the entry-level, employers will generally ask that you have a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, information technology, or a related field and two years of experience. Then, as you climb the career ladder, you may need a graduate degree or certificate. CompTIA Security+, GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH), and GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA) are helpful certifications.
Information Security Specialist
The information security specialist becomes an organization’s security point person. In this role, you must guarantee data security by limiting unauthorized breaches and cyberattacks. Information security specialists are experienced experts who can work in networking and network security, business continuity, operating system administration, disaster recovery, digital forensics, intrusion detection and risk management.
Their responsibilities can include:
- Training other cyber security personnel on company security policies
- Identifying new security vulnerabilities
- Assessing and maintaining antivirus software and server firewalls
- Forwarding suggestions regarding potential security improvements to management
- Encrypting data before transmission and placing password authentication across company applications
- Back up all company data and process cybersecurity crime scenes
Potential employers will generally ask that you have a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in information security, computer science, computer information systems, or related fields. You may have an added advantage if you have a CompTIA Security+, GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC), or Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) certification.
A cybersecurity consultant assesses organizations’ security weaknesses and provides solutions or suggestions for improving security parameters. These professionals can either work in-house or on a consultancy basis within a specific industry like retail, banking or hospitality. The overall objective is to formulate security measures and emergency plans for their customers.
Responsibilities of cybersecurity consultants:
- Identify security problems with an organization’s systems
- Evaluate and assess identified weaknesses
- Enact solutions that protect organizational infrastructure against security risks or make professional recommendations
If you wish to go into cybersecurity consultancy, you may need a Bachelor’s degree in information security, computer science, cybersecurity or engineering.
You will typically start as a junior partner in an information technology consultancy team and need about two years of workplace experience to become a lead consultant. If you want to work as an in-house consultant, hiring managers will typically ask for a bachelor’s degree and that you have professional experience of 3-5 years.
Some helpful certifications that you can add to your resume are Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), SANS/GIAC Certification, Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), or Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).
Digital Forensic Examiner
These professionals recover information from digital devices to examine the processes that cyber attackers used to breach specific security protocols. Digital forensic examiners mainly undertake these jobs for legal purposes, especially when there are ongoing investigations.
Digital Forensic Examiner responsibilities:
- Collecting and preserving data for analysis
- Retrieving data from damaged computer hard drives. The process can also entail recovering erased data.
- Working with law enforcement personnel during criminal investigations
- Testifying in the courts of law during crime-related court proceedings
Working in this field often requires that you have a Bachelor’s degree in computer and digital forensics, cybersecurity, computer and information security, computer engineering or another related discipline. Some helpful certifications include the AccessData Certified Examiner (ACE), GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst, or EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE). These certifications are not requirements but can give you an advantage over other applicants when looking for an entry-level position.
Security Systems Administrator
The security systems administrator job is an advanced cybersecurity role that entails the management of an organization’s cybersecurity systems.
The day-to-day responsibilities of these professionals include:
- Ensuring that systems are running as expected and performing periodic backups
- Managing all the user accounts within a company to ensure that there are no unauthorized logins
- Managing all the security teams to ensure they take proactive approaches to cybersecurity
- Formulating and implementing cybersecurity policies and procedures for an organization
- Spearheading security audits
Since this is a mid-level organizational position, becoming a security systems administrator requires that you first start as a junior security administrator. Employers often require a bachelor’s degree in any information technology-related field but seldom ask for professional experience for entry-level positions.
Other helpful qualifications are the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification. As you climb the career ladder, you might be required to pursue a Master’s degree in Information Systems.
Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for network and computer systems administrators is $80,600.
The security engineer’s job is to create designs that enhance the security of an organization’s computers, data, and networks. For example, a security engineer can design an intrusion detection system to handle incoming attacks.
Day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Assessing a company’s security needs and ensuring that members of staff follow best practices and standards
- Assessing security breaches to network systems and responding on time
- Designing, executing, managing, and supervising security measures
- Penetration testing
- Troubleshooting security problems and other incidents
- Enacting security change management
- Investigating security breaches
It is vital to note that the roles and responsibilities of a cybersecurity engineer partly resemble those of an information security analyst. However, while the engineer has to design and build systems, the security analyst focuses on testing their reliability.
The main qualifications employers look for in this context are a bachelor’s degree in computer science, systems engineering, information technology, or related fields. Most hiring managers also prefer candidates with two years of professional experience for an entry-level position, especially in cyber forensics and incident detection. Candidates with a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification have an added advantage.
Cybersecurity engineers often go into managerial positions. Hence, it is valuable that you stay prepared. Most employers will ask that you have a Master’s degree in related fields such as business administration or software development based on the job description.
Hard and Soft Skills Needed for Cybersecurity Entry-Level Jobs
- Knowledge of the design and function of operating systems
- Knowledge of database platforms
- The ability to perform security audits
- Advanced knowledge of various programming languages such as Python, C++, and Java
- Knowledge of how to detect and avert firewall security breaches
- Basic knowledge of cloud computing and computer networking
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Creative thinking skills
- The ability to work under pressure
- Research and leadership skills
- The ability to solve problems on the go
- An understanding of the goings on within the cybersecurity industry