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IT Job Aspirations: Pointers for Plotting Your Cyber Security Career Path

Dec 2, 2016 by

Cyber security specialists, also known as information security analysts, develop and implement security protocols to protect a company’s computer network and systems. As the number of cyberattacks increase, the field of cyber security is constantly expanding, and so are the responsibilities of experts within the arena. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of cyber security professional analysts is growing much faster than the average for other occupations. As the potential for hackers to steal critical information grows, the demand for IT security specialist is expected to be very high.

Cyber Security Training

People wanting to follow a cyber security career will typically need a Bachelor’s degree in a related field such as IT, computer science or mathematics. Many companies now also require CISA Certification Training. An Information Systems Auditor Certification is a globally recognized documentation for IT security professionals. It demonstrates that you have the abilities to assess IT vulnerabilities to cyberattack, implement preventative controls and report on compliance.

The Roles of a Cyber Security Specialist

As a specialist in this field, you will have expertise working with a variety of IT networks. These may include networks within the retail sector, banking, the defense industry or the government and may extend to laptops, cloud computing, mobile applications and the Payment Card Industry (PCI). A cyber security professional has a number of roles, all of which are vital to protecting the safety of IT systems.

Risk Analytics

Analyzing and managing risks involves understanding the different types of potential threats, and which one could have the most impact on the business. Armed, with this knowledge, you will be able to advise company boards on how best to budget for eliminating these potential risks.

Threat Management and Forensics

One of the IT security analyst’s key roles is the front line defense of networks and mobile devices: managing networks to keep hackers out, identifying risks and eliminating them. A forensic approach is required when a security breach has occurred. This requires locating and analyzing the cause of a security breach, assessing its impact and reporting the short-term and long-term effects.

Operations and Security Management

You will also need to protect data on the network and on laptops and mobile devices. You will use a variety of tools, such as encryption, firewalls and other protective measures to keep hackers out. The emphasis here is on careful and continuous monitoring.

Penetration Testing

Penetration testing, also known as ethical hacking, involves carrying out system tests to expose vulnerabilities in security. In this role, you will attempt to hack into a system, but on behalf of the company that owns the network.

Policy Making

A cyber security specialist may also be responsible for developing a plan for how the company deals with its legal obligations for dealing with security risks. These responsibilities may include getting the policies implemented by liaising with government officials.

What to Expect on the Job

Your employer may require you to have security clearance or a background check before your contract begins. Working hours are usually in the range of 30-40 hours per week. You may have opportunities for overtime, particularly if there has been a security breach, or a special assignment is being carried out. Although most of the work will be office-based, you may be on a call-out rota.

If you are working on a consultant basis for a company, or you are self-employed, you may be able to do some of the work from your home office, while making occasional on-site visits. If you are specializing in the forensic aspects of cybersecurity, you may also be required to attend company meetings and asked to attend court as an expert witness or to give evidence in a hearing.

There are opportunities for self-employment within this field, if you already have a few years’ experience working for a company. You may want to consider setting up your own cybersecurity business or working as an independent consultant.

All businesses, however large or small, are at risk of a cyberattack and there is an obvious need for enterprises to invest in cyber protection, not only to guard their company, but also to shield their clients. Although large companies and agencies may have a bigger cyber defense budget, their huge customer bases make them worthwhile targets for experienced hackers. Skilled security personnel are needed more than ever to protect public and private sectors, and train other cyber security professionals.

Libby Stephens writes about career options in her articles. Working as a graduate recruitment consultant her informative articles highlight some of the newer career paths now available.

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