An Inside Look at In-Demand, Cybersecurity Jobs and Their Functions
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computers, mobile devices, computer networks, and data on the Internet from hackers and malicious attacks. The word “cyber” is usually associated with anything related to a computer, Internet, or computer network; whereas, “cybersecurity” means to secure computer systems against intruders. Sometimes, cybersecurity is also called information technology security or electronic information security.
When a group of individuals or a person tries to gain unauthorized access to a computer network or a computing application, it is known as cybercrime. According to recent statistics, the US government spends nearly $19 billion every year to protect its computing systems against cyberattacks. As our reliance on computers grows, the extent and the intensity of cybercrimes are also likely to increase. Similarly, the demand for cybersecurity jobs with cybersecurity certifications dealing with advanced persistent threats will also increase.
The term “cybersecurity” is used in a variety of contexts, such as securing an entire computer network or securing a mobile phone. To better understand the phenomenon, here is an overview of different contexts:
Due to high growth potential, there are a variety of cybersecurity jobs to choose from. A lot of individuals start their cybersecurity job by earning a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree in an IT field. Similarly, many individuals take IT certifications to enhance their careers, and some start their cybersecurity jobs by getting an in-demand cybersecurity certification. Whereas multiple cybersecurity certifications offer flexibility to select the best cybersecurity jobs, the wider choice of degrees and certifications often makes it harder for individuals to decide the best pathway.
If you’re interested in cybersecurity certification, you can either get a specific certification tailormade for cybersecurity or start by gaining first-hand knowledge of the different types of entry-level cybersecurity jobs. These entry-level positions will likely pave the way for getting advanced cybersecurity training. Organizations such as the National Institute of Standards of Technology (NIST) and other private companies hire cybersecurity experts. Some of the best cybersecurity jobs at entry-level include:
- System Administrator
- Web Developer
- IT Technician
- Network Administrator
- Computer Software Engineer
The job growth for cybersecurity jobs shows promise, projecting a 24% growth by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that without qualified professionals entering the field at an exponential rate, there will be an even larger employment gap than we’re currently experiencing.
Once you have gained initial experience in risk management or you have already worked in an IT field, it’s time to get specific cybersecurity certifications.
Cybersecurity Jobs in Application Security
In relation to cybersecurity jobs, application security is the process of fixing, updating, and securing computer applications from malware and similar types of security breaches that can make the application vulnerable to hackers and computer viruses. According to Veracode State of Software Security, 83 percent of the 85,000 applications tested by the experts had at least one major security loophole.
Perhaps, the most common type of application security is using a strong password to protect our computers from others. Two-Factor authentication is also a type of security designed to keep the application safe. Using a secure Internet browser to access the websites and using a firewall to prevent unauthorized access to a network-based app are some of the other examples of keeping applications secure.
Cybersecurity Jobs in Information Security
Information security is the process of preventing unauthorized access, disruption, destruction, and inspection of information. The information usually resides in the electronic form inside the computer networks and computer applications.
The social profile of millions of users on social media is an example of important information. Similarly, personal data on the mobile phone and critical data such as details of biometrics on a computer network are examples of information that can be accessed or destroyed by unauthorized sources.
Such information is highly vulnerable to attacks because it’s relatively easier for hackers to intercept the flow of information when users are careless in transferring such information from one digital source to another digital source. Accessing an unsecured website using Google or Facebook profile is also an example of an information security breach, which can make your social profile and the personal data vulnerable to hackers.
Cybersecurity Jobs in Operational Security
It’s a security procedure often used by operations managers to assess the security of their computer systems against attacks by rivals and potential hackers. Operational security encourages operation managers to evaluate the security from the perspective of an adversary to protect sensitive information falling into the wrong hands.
Simple examples of operational security and cybersecurity jobs include monitoring workers and company employees regarding their Internet use habits during office timings to prevent access to vulnerable websites. It can also include training and creating rules for sharing information on the Internet. Discouraging employees from sharing their login information using email and text messages is yet another type of operational security implemented by operational managers.
There are usually five steps of operational security, which includes:
- Identifying sensitive data
- Identifying possible threats
- Analyzing security loopholes
- Appraising the level of risk associated with each loophole
- Getting countermeasures in place
In a nutshell, the operational security procedure starts by identifying security issues. Once these issues are identified, managers evaluate how critical is a specific risk to an organization. Based on the priority level, operational managers implement safety procedures and allocate financial resources accordingly.
Cybersecurity Jobs in Network Security
As the name suggests, network security is the process of monitoring and implementing resources to prevent the misuse of computer networks and network-accessible resources. Network security is the implementation of procedures and tools to authorize access to certain individuals on a network. Defining admin roles, setting up passwords for specific network areas, and verifying the identity on a network are examples of network security.
Network security covers a wide range of computers in private and public organizations. It may involve securing everything that is connected to a network. Apart from securing a computer on a network or securing user applications on a network, network security includes securing the data while it’s transferred between network nodes. Implementing procedures and rules for workers and employees is also a part of network security.
Use of encryption when sharing information over the network was regularly used as early as the Second World War. Nowadays, network administrators and managers use two-factor authentication, security-token, fingerprints, and retinal scans as some of the useful procedures for risk management. Antivirus software, firewalls, and other intrusion prevention systems are tools used by network administrators to deal with computers connected to the Internet and advanced persistent threats.
Cybersecurity Job: Security Architect
Among the most common career pathways is to become a security architect. This is a career path for someone who loves designing, implementing, and building computer security networks.
The steppingstone for this pathway is getting certification in courses such as CompTIA Security+. Ideally, you should either have at least a Bachelor’s degree in IT or equivalent experience before starting this course. You can also start by taking one of the entry-level IT courses, as identified above.
Cybersecurity Job: Security Consultant
This is another well-known cybersecurity job. A consultant does not actively build a security network; instead, the individual assesses and analyzes risks, problems, and loopholes in the system by guiding organizations on how to protect their data.
If you want to take this path, it’s important to gain first-hand experience in the field and earn an entry-level certification such as CompTIA Security+, Cybersecurity Analyst CySA+, and Certified Ethical Hacker CEH. Since there is no direct pathway to becoming a security consultant, you will likely start by gaining certification and three to five years of experience in a related IT field.
Cybersecurity Jobs: Ethical Hackers & Penetration Testers
The growth of the Internet and cyber technologies has increased demands for ethical hackers and penetration testers who can simulate real-life cyberattacks and ensure continuous monitoring. The role of these hackers is to perform a penetration test on web applications, networks, and computer systems to investigate potential weaknesses in the network. These hackers are trained to research documents and evaluate the risks. The risks and findings are discussed with the management team and IT workers.
Unlike the other two cybersecurity jobs previously discussed, ethical hackers usually gain an initial IT certification or work experience, but the majority of their skills evolve from taking IT certification courses geared towards their specific cybersecurity job choice.
Ethical hackers learn from their experiences and initial training. Based on their performance, it’s not uncommon for ethical testers to climb up the corporate ladder quickly to become senior security consultants and security architects.
Cybersecurity Job: Chief Security Officer
Inspiring individuals seeking this lucrative and enriching career path can take any one of the three pathways defined above before securing the top-level position in an organization.
For continuous monitoring of an organization, the Chief Security Officer usually has an MBA degree so that they are often aware of the business-related concerns of their company. In certain cases, they also coordinate with the National Institute of Standards of Technology (NIST). Most Chief Security Officers have some kind of managerial experience running a company. Similarly, they also undertake some of the intermediate and advanced cybersecurity courses such as Certified Information Systems Auditor and Certified Information Security Manager.
Skills Needed for Cybersecurity Jobs
In the computer and IT field, there is usually no prerequisite to take the entry-level course. The starting point for most individuals is to acquire CompTIA Security+ certification. Lots of individuals undertaking CompTIA Security+ also ensure that they have completed the CompTIA Network+ course so they can easily correlate security issues to the network.
Since you only need to pass an exam to get the certificate, the time to complete cybersecurity certifications depends on the knowledge, pace, and lifestyle of the individual. A lot of people take training classes to enhance their experience before the actual exam. These classes run anywhere from one month to six months. A few experienced IT professionals buy an online course because they feel confident that they can pass the test without requiring formal classroom training.
The traditional cybersecurity degree pathway to a cybersecurity job lasts anywhere between two years for an Associate Degree to 5 1/2 years before candidates can complete their Master’s coursework. However, a successful candidate always has practical experience, which helps the individual understand the dynamics of cybersecurity from a real-world’s perspective.
Anyone pursuing a cybersecurity job or getting a cybersecurity degree must understand that there are multiple pathways to enter this field. It also means that the most qualified individuals possess both theoretical and practical experience before they can climb up the corporate ladder. The training is usually provided by tech schools, training institutes, community colleges, and universities.
If you have some sort of IT experience, it’s better to take a training class in cybersecurity management so you may get hands-on experience. For career switches, entry-level IT professionals, and newly graduating students, it’s also wise to gain practical experience in a classroom environment before taking the certification exam. If you don’t have the time to take a class, consider an online classroom or a well-developed extensive course to prepare yourself for the certification exam.
Cyberattack Methods & Prevention
A cyberattack is an assault launched by criminals to attack a computer or multiple computers in a network. The purpose of such attacks is to steal critical information, data, and financial information stored on the computer.
In recent years, software supply chains are increasingly becoming victims of such cyberattacks due to the influx of e-commerce and online transactions. Ransomware is also becoming a huge problem, particularly for healthcare organizations that are asked by hackers to pay a certain amount to remove the virus from the system. Some of these healthcare and other large firms are known to resort to the demands of cybercriminals because it’s relatively cheaper to pay the ransom compared to system overhaul and fines for a data breach.
Types of Cyberattacks:
Denial of Service DDoS attack: These cyberterror attacks are initiated by criminals disabling the computer. Sometimes, the purpose of such attacks is to take the system down, making it easier to initiate further attacks.
Man-in-the-Middle attack: This is a well-known technique used by the attackers as they insert themselves between the client computer and the server. In simple terms, the server continues its correspondence with the client computer after the actual session is over because the server believes that it is still communicating with the client.
XSS attack: These cross-site scripting cyberterror attacks use a third-party web resource to run scripts on the host web browser. When the victim requests the web page, the web page is transmitted with the malicious payload inserted by the attacker. In an advanced version of the XSS attack, the hacker is able to steal cookies, log keystrokes, capture screenshots, and even remotely access the victim’s computer.
Malware attack: These are some of the most common types of attacks. These occur when a software is installed in your computer system without your consent. This malware can not only leak useful information about you and your system but also replicate itself across the Internet. Every firm should invest in malware detection and security programs.
SQL Injection attack: It’s the most common type of attack executed on the data-driven websites. The attacker executes an SQL query using the input data from the client to the server. The SQL commands are then inserted to run a predefined pattern of SQL commands. If infected, the attacker is able to take on administrative roles, recover content, and in some cases, issue commands to the operating system.
Preventing Cybersecurity Issues
Cybersecurity has become an integral part of doing business. In fact, cyberattacks are so prevalent that one out of three Americans is affected by a cyberattack every year. It also means that there is a cyberattack every 39 seconds on Internet users in the United States.
While cyberattacks were mostly restricted to large companies, the advent of cloud computing has also made medium and small businesses vulnerable. A recent study suggests that 43 percent of the cyberattacks affect small businesses, and more than 40 percent of small businesses do not have their data backed up in a secure location. According to the Kaspersky Lab study, the average loss to a small and medium-sized business due to a cyber-attack was close to $200,000. [bctt tweet=”The average loss to a small and medium-sized business due to a cyber-attack was close to $200,000.”]
Under these circumstances, it’s important for businesses of all sizes to educate their employees and workers on how they can prevent cybercrime. Here are ten ways to educate workers and prevent criminals from stealing your precious data.
- Train employees in cybersecurity management using regular class sessions and team meetings. Ensure that workers understand the rules of ICA integrity, confidentiality, and availability.
- Install malware detection software and monitor the use of antivirus software on each computer at your workplace.
- Use a firewall to access the Internet.
- Ask your information technology security manager to keep the system, software, and hardware updated. Don’t rely on the older version to keep you safe.
- Always back up your information in more than one place. If possible, store the information on physical and cloud-based storage.
- Using proper security programs, control who access your computers by defining clear admin roles.
- Secure your WiFi by ensuring that it is hidden from the prying eyes of intruders.
- Each worker should have an individual user account so that they can be accounted for in case of a breach.
- Limit employee access to critical data.
- Always prompt your workers to use a strong password and change it on a regular basis.
A Different Type of Cyber Threat
Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for potential loopholes in the system. These loopholes occur either through a security lapse or a careless individual who opens an opportunity for hackers to tap into their system. In an office environment where a computer is connected to hundreds of other computers, the hacker can take control of the entire system by accessing the network from the hacked computer. Here are the most common types of cyber threats.
Phishing: Among the most prevalent cybercrime affecting Internet users, phishing is an act of deceiving a person to give information regarding important personal data. For instance, you may get an email purporting to be from a reputable company, credit card provider, or your bank asking you to share credit card numbers, personal profile, or other important information.
Ransomware: This cyberattack mainly locks the admin out of the actual account. Just like a ransom call, the user is asked to deposit a certain amount to gain control and restore access to the account.
Malware: Malware is any program or software that is installed in a computer without the permission of the user. Sometimes, users inadvertently access malware and virus-prone websites without knowing the consequences of such a cyberattack.
Social Engineering: It is an act of stealing confidential and important information from the company’s employee or premises. Sometimes, cybercriminals pose as exterminators, fire marshals, and technicians to gain access to restricted parts of the company. These criminals can go unnoticed as they are able to steal vital company information from files, worker’s desks, and laptops without someone noticing anything out of place.
DNS Spoofing: A process of hacking a computer by delivering a fake IP address to the user. The server is forced to redirect the user to the fake website. Any information such as personal data or credit card information used on the website is accessible by the hacker.
How to Practice Better Cybersecurity
If you use a computer at home or at work, protecting yourself against potential cybersecurity threats should be a top priority. Cybersecurity jobs with certifications should also ensure that workers and employees use best practices defined by the cybersecurity framework to remain safe from computer hackers. Here are five important guidelines on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.
1. Avoid unknown emails, popups, and links by staying away from interacting with them. Clicking on an unknown link can affect your computer and harm other computers on the network.
2. Respect intellectual property when sharing company photos or workspace pictures. You can easily reveal important information if there is sensitive data in the background.
3. Use a strong password and two-factor authentication for security. While it may seem difficult to create a new password every two months, two-factor authentication secures you by sending a security code to your phone before access to the system is granted.
4. Never connect to an insecure WiFi and never access social websites from public networks. Use a VPN (virtual private network) when you need to access a third-party WiFi or any public WiFi.
5. Install security software and backup your important data so you can get access to the critical information if you’re unable to access the computer due to a hacking attempt or a virus.
6. Obey rules and educate workers on the General Data Protection Regulation. It will ensure that the company maintains its ICA – integrity, confidentiality, and availability.
Risks of Poor Cybersecurity
Poor cybersecurity has adverse financial aspects for individuals and organizations. Recent research suggests that it also affects an organization’s customers and wide markets. Research by Gemalto indicates that nearly 70 percent of customers will not do business with a company after a data breach.
A large breach or a virus can also affect the supply chain and inventory management. The inability to order stock and monitor resources can delay the process leading to financial and customer service issues. Even a tiny breach or a virus can halt the business operations leading to irreversible damages.
It can also reduce your resources for growth as cash lost to ransomware, and the recovery process could be used in growing the business. Unfortunately, paying the ransom doesn’t mean that the company will get the system restored as needed. Overall, the company will not be able to pursue business aims that support the prosperity of the business.
Nowadays, there is a growing list of companies that are fined under the General Data Protection Regulation for cybersecurity framework and data breaches. It means that companies are unlikely to get away with data breaches because authorities are vigilant to uncover a possible data breach. New laws also give legislators the authority to issue heavy fines if proper regulatory practices are not followed at the workplace.
Pursuing a Career in Cybersecurity
With an estimated 1.8 million unfilled cyber jobs worldwide expected by 2022, now is the time to explore the variety of cybersecurity jobs available. Want to find out if you can be a cybersecurity professional? Learn about the University of Miami’s Cybersecurity Bootcamp program and get on the fast track to your new career in cyber.