Data breaches have been dominating the headlines lately, and there seem to be more cybercriminals than cybersecurity specialists. It’s time to level the playing field.
Other than the current coronavirus pandemic, the world is also dealing with cyberattacks on an ever-increasing scale. There’s either a large-scale data breach or software vulnerability and exploit being reported every other day. Cyberattacks on businesses saw a dramatic rise in 2019 at 61%, a far cry from 45% in 2018. IT budgets have been dwindling, and companies are sorely lacking employees with relevant cybersecurity skills on hand to help mitigate the risks of a cyber incident.
The Cybersecurity Skills Shortage
We are in the digital age, and as the tech sector continues its unprecedented growth, there isn’t enough talent to go around. Tech companies the world over need talented employees, but development hasn’t been fast enough to supply the right people at the right time. However, it’s not a doomsday scenario for organizations that need help and can benefit job seekers looking to start a career in cybersecurity.
Employers looking to beef up their ranks can enroll their current staff in cybersecurity workshops or more advanced courses if they’re qualified. Job seekers, on the other hand, can use this opportunity to develop the right skills to enter the world of information security.
Skills Every Employee Should Have
The cybersecurity sector has a lot of different job classifications and career paths. It would be nearly impossible to specify which skills are needed for each one. However, almost any area of cybersecurity will require an employee that possesses a particular set of skills that would make him or her a nightmare for hackers.
A typical cybersecurity job opening advertisement would look something like this:
- The candidate must be analytical and detail-oriented, with the ability to examine technical issues from all sides.
- Must have excellent diagnostic and problem-solving skills.
- Must have excellent communication skills to be able to explain complicated issues to clients and management adequately.
- Must be able to work in a team environment.
- Knowledge of governance and GDPR is a plus.
- The candidate must have a strong foundation in IT core fundamentals, like system administration and web applications.
- Knowledge of how to deploy security tools such as VPNs, anti-malware solutions, and identity theft protection to help mitigate the risk of identity theft.
- Programming proficiency in Java, C/C++, assembly language, disassemblers, and two or more scripting languages is a must.
- Must have a strong understanding of operating system architecture and administration.
- The candidate must have a deep understanding of network security, including firewalls, network routers, and switches.
- Must be well-versed in cloud security, risk management, big data analysis, and software management/patching.
- Must be knowledgeable in security task automation and technical vulnerability assessment.
Suffice it to say; employees need to have these core skills to enter the cybersecurity industry and become an expert. However, having hard and soft skills isn’t nearly enough, and past experience working in cybersecurity is an advantage.
Real-world Knowledge and Experience
While skills and certifications matter (especially on paper), nothing beats hands-on practical experience. An ideal candidate will possess real-world knowledge and the technical capabilities required to do the job well. Cybersecurity employees must be continually updated on the latest threats and current vulnerabilities affecting the industry. They should also keep abreast of the newest security trends, procedures, and practices standard throughout the world of cybersecurity.
For instance, cybersecurity employees must need to know how databases and operating systems work, identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses in the architecture so these can be better protected. Another requirement is a keen understanding of how attacks from the internet happen and how to prevent them, with a little ethical hacking prowess to demonstrate how an attacker would try to compromise a system.
Cyberattacks are only going to grow because there’s not enough talent to keep up. Cybersecurity is only as strong as the people tasked to ensure that attacks are repelled, and threats are mitigated before they can do widespread damage. Organizations looking to improve their cybersecurity team can either hire new employees or train their current staff to fill in the gaps. For people looking to enter the industry, there is no better time than now to prepare, get skilled, and join the fight against cybercriminals.