How to Get Into Cyber Security

How to Get Into Cyber Security


If you have a knack for finding bugs and figuring out how hackers got into a system, you might be perfectly aligned to become a cyber security expert. These professionals spend their days defending computer networks, creating security plans, and cleaning up digital breaches. Often, a cyber security breach could have been prevented through more effective measure.

The 2017 Equifax breach is an excellent example of a cyber security attack that could have been prevented. 143 million Americans, Canadians, and British residents fell prey to the 2017 attack when hackers stole credit card data, addresses, bank accounts, and other personal details. Equifax was highly criticized for security vulnerabilities that many believe could have been fixed prior to the attacks.

cyber security
Some cyber security industry leaders include BlackBerry, Symantec, Fortinet, and McAfee. These companies are investing in cyber security research and actively hiring security experts. Not only is becoming a cyber security expert a rewarding profession, it's also a great line of work to pursue if you have a technical background.

Cyber Security Degree and Certification Options

Cyber security is one of the rare fields that you can break into without a degree from a college or university. There are various entry-level jobs that only require a certification and some only require pertinent experience. Some of the top options available are listed below.

1. Bachelor's degree: a number of companies do require a bachelor's degree in cyber security (or a related and relevant field). This four-year degree can be obtained through an online program or at a local college or university.

2. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): this certificate is offered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. Applicants must have five years of experience prior to registering for the CISA program in addition to a high score on the required placement examination.

3. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): this is a relatively new certification program offered by the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants. Enrolling in this program will mean learning how to use hacking skills to find holes in systems and prevent attacks from happening.

4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): this degree is based on a 250-word test that takes several hours to complete. The test is designed for professionals that have more than 5 years of experience and are seeking to secure a career as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The position of CISO is one of the best and most lucrative positions in the cyber security field, and this is the certification required to reach that status.

5. CompTIA Security+ Program: this certification requires one examination and is geared towards IT professionals with some experience. It is possible to take training through the program but it is not required. This certificate must be renewed every three years, which is something to consider when weighing the pros and cons of certification options.

Another good way to gain experience as a cyber security expert is to attend workshops and take courses aimed at improving your overall knowledge of the subject. The more you read and learn about the cyber security industry, the better equipped you will be to answer interview questions and apply the knowledge learned through coursework. Some good online options include:

  • Sans Cyber Access: this free course is self-taught and includes quizzes, videos, and other course material. You won't gain any accreditation from this course, but you can add it to your resume.
  • US Department of Homeland Security: the US Department of Homeland Security offers courses in cybersecurity in Idaho. The department also offers an extensive library of online videos and other training materials that can be accessed here.

The Path to Becoming a Cyber Security Expert

Many companies now require cyber security professionals to have a bachelor's degree, but some companies hire candidates with certifications for various positions. If you have a background in technology or have prior security experience, you may be able to obtain an entry-level job with the right certification.

Systems administrator, web administrator, web developer, network engineer, and IT technician are some of the entry-level positions that will lead to more job responsibility. The best way to increase your salary and job position is to continuously earn certifications, take courses, and stay on top of industry trends. Entry level security experts typically earn $50,000 to $70,000 with highly skilled professionals earning well over $100,000. One good way to find the best fit for your skillset is to take a look at our job postings. You'll find that some companies require many years of experience while others give entry-level job seekers interesting and lucrative opportunities.

A Day in the Life of a Cyber Security Expert

The first thing you should know about breaking into the security field is that this is not a 9-5 job. Networks never sleep (and hackers seem to sleep less), which means that you will be continuously on call to tend to any incidents that might happen. The second thing you should know is that each day's tasks are unique. While some tasks (like checking networks) require daily monitoring, the problems that arise one day to the next are never the same.

Security experts must also be excellent communicators. Often, breaches come from outside of the technical department, so you may have to give webinars on how to check for spam emails or what files not to share. You will also have to work closely with the IT team to analyze security plans and review previous breaches. In short, this job requires a lot of teamwork, investigative skills, and a knack for asking questions.

How to Get a Job in Cyber Security

Now that you know you'll need a degree and will have to brush up on your communication skills, how do you find a job in security that you will love? Believe it or not, most top cyber security jobs come through networking. Trust is one of the biggest components of working in the security field, and this means building a reputation for being trustworthy. One great way to begin networking (and showing your worth) is to attend conferences and events aimed at the security field. Job recruiters are often at these events and are interested in potential new employees.

Most cyber security experts already work in a technical or related field, but some come from other backgrounds. If you have any investigative experience, this is often seen as an asset, since you will have to solve technical mysteries (how did that hacker get into the network?) as a cyber security professional. You can also ask another professional how to start a career in cyber security or how to get a job in cyber security. Sometimes the best advice comes from someone already working in the field.

Cyber Security Interview Questions and Answers

Here are some of the questions recruiters usually ask security experts during a job interview:

  • What is your definition of cyber security? You should be able to explain what it is, what some case studies or popular examples are, and any experience you have solving a security issue or creating a security plan.
  • What is encryption? This is a basic question asked to judge whether or not you understand encryption on a technical level. Make sure to specify encryption methods and types.
  • Can you explain what risk vs. vulnerability is? There's a fundamental difference between a network risk and a vulnerable hole in a network. Note the difference between the two and how to determine whether a network is risky or vulnerable.
  • What are some common threats to networks? You could answer this questions a number of ways, but some options include: employee devices, email attachments, outdated software, and neglecting to develop a solid security plan.
  • Do you have any other pertinent experience? If you spent your summers as a sleuth or have investigative journalism experience, now's the time to mention it. A large part of protecting a network is asking questions, finding answers, and knowing where to look for the root of a problem.

If you do not yet have anything to put on your cyber security resume, consider taking some courses and attending some seminars. Learn all that you can about how to break into the field and consider signing up for a degree related to cyber security. The outlook for this profession is positive with more and more companies noting the necessity of having a skilled and qualified cyber security professional on staff.

If you are looking for the right cyber security expert for your company, take a look at the services we offer - it's important to find the best candidate for the job and we can help you do just that.

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