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Cybersecurity Pathways #2

Written By Chisom Vivian Ogbu

Hey there, friends! Welcome to the sequel to our article on Cybersecurity pathways!

In the previous article, we explored the basics of Cybersecurity, and why it is so important in our modern, digital world. We learned that Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting our systems, the data they contain, and the functions they perform from people who want to steal, damage, or misuse them.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the different career paths available in Cybersecurity, and how you can prepare for one.

Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field, and there is a high demand for skilled Cybersecurity professionals. The Bureau of Labour Statistics projects that the employment of information security analysts is expected to grow 31 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is being driven by the increasing reliance of organizations on computer systems and networks, as well as the growing number and sophistication of cyberattacks.

I know that Cybersecurity can be a very daunting topic, especially if you are new to it. There is so much to learn and the field is constantly evolving. But I want to assure you that it is not as scary as it may seem. It is a field that is full of opportunities for people with all sorts of backgrounds and skill sets and it is possible to have a successful career in the field, even if you are a beginner.

Here is a little bit about what a career in Cybersecurity might look like:

  • You will be constantly learning: The Cybersecurity landscape is constantly changing, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest threats and technologies. But don’t worry, there are tons of resources available to help you learn, including online courses, books, and conferences.
  • You will work in a team environment: Cybersecurity is a team sport. Cybersecurity professionals work together to identify, assess, and respond to cyber threats.
  • You will have a variety of career options: There are many different Cybersecurity pathways to choose from, so you can find a career that matches your skills and interests.
  • You will make a difference: Cybersecurity professionals play a vital role in protecting our data and systems from cyberattacks. This is a rewarding career that allows you to make a real difference in the world.

So whether you are a tech whiz or a complete beginner, I encourage you to read on and learn more as we explore the different career paths available in Cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity Career Paths

Cybersecurity is awesome because there are so many different career paths to choose from, each one tailored to different skills and interests. You can be a hacker who helps fight the bad guys, an engineer who builds security systems, or a strategist who helps companies stay safe. The possibilities are endless!

Let’s take a look at some of these Cybersecurity roles!!

Engineering and architecture

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Cybersecurity engineers are the backbone of Cybersecurity. They are the ones who build and maintain the systems that protect our digital infrastructure from cyber attacks. They use their knowledge of software and system vulnerabilities, and network security to create strong defences that keep the bad guys out.

In addition to building and maintaining security systems, Cybersecurity engineers also perform regular security assessments to identify and fix any weaknesses in their organization’s security posture.

I call them the security guards of the digital world. Network Security Engineers, Security Engineers, Security Architects, Cloud Security Engineers, and Application Security Engineers all fall under this specialized path. They help organizations protect their data, systems, networks, and digital assets from the bad guys by setting up and maintaining security devices, and other security solutions.

Responders (The Blue Team)

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Cybersecurity response is like the digital equivalent of first aid. When a cyber threat turns into a real security breach, Cybersecurity response professionals are the first ones on the scene. They spring into action to minimize the damage, get rid of the threat, and get everything back to normal as quickly as possible.

Imagine a doctor or nurse treating a patient who has been injured in an accident. They first need to assess the situation and figure out what’s wrong. Then, they need to stop the bleeding, clean the wound, and dress it. Finally, they need to give the patient medication to help them heal and prevent an infection.

Cybersecurity response professionals do the same thing but for digital systems. They first need to figure out what kind of breach has occurred and how it happened. Then, they need to stop the attackers from doing any more damage. Next, they need to get rid of the malware or other malicious code that is causing the breach. Finally, they need to patch any security vulnerabilities that the attackers exploited.

After the breach has been contained, Cybersecurity response professionals also need to analyse what happened and learn from it. This helps them to improve the organization’s security posture and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

They work tirelessly to keep our data and systems safe. The Incident responders, Forensic Analysts, Incident Response Managers, and Threat Researchers are all found in this specialized path in Cybersecurity.

Testing and Hacking (Red Team)

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Cybersecurity ethical hackers or testers are like digital detectives, hunting for security vulnerabilities before the bad guys can find them. They use their skills and knowledge to break down and analyse an organization’s cyber defences, looking for any weaknesses that could be exploited. This could involve simulating cyberattacks, probing software applications for weaknesses, analysing network structures, and examining systems for coding errors.

These lot play a vital role in keeping organizational data and systems safe. They are the ones who help to stay one step ahead of the cybercriminals. They are also called the Red team and roles under this specialized path include Penetration or Vulnerability Testers, Security Auditors, and Ethical Hackers.

Auditing and Consulting

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Cybersecurity auditors and consultants are the digital strategies that help organizations keep their data and systems safe. They’re like the doctors and dentists of the digital world, but instead of fixing our teeth and checking our blood pressure, they fix our security vulnerabilities and make sure that our systems are healthy and secure.

Auditors are the ones who come in and give us a check-up. They look at our Cybersecurity posture and identify any areas where we need to improve. Consultants are the ones who help us to fix those problems. They work with us to develop and implement Cybersecurity solutions, and to respond to incidents.

Both auditors and consultants are essential to an organization’s digital well-being. Specialized roles under this path include Security Auditors, Security Consultants, and IT Compliance Auditors.

Analysis (Blue Team)

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The analysis path in Cybersecurity is for people who love to solve puzzles and figure out how things work. It’s for people who are curious and analytical, and who have a knack for finding the hidden details.

Cybersecurity analysts use their skills to identify, investigate, and respond to cyber threats. They work on a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Analysing security data to identify patterns and trends that could indicate a cyber attack
  • Investigating security incidents to determine how and why they occurred, and to identify the perpetrators
  • Developing and implementing security solutions to mitigate risks and prevent future attacks
  • Communicating security findings to technical and non-technical audiences

Cybersecurity analysts are also like the digital detectives of our world. They use their skills and knowledge to solve the mysteries of cybercrime. Specialized roles under this path include Cyber Security Analysts, Threat Intelligence Analysts, Malware Analysts, Intrusion Analysts, and Security Operations Centre Analysts.

Management

A man sitting at a table in front of a laptop | Credit: Unsplash

The management path in Cybersecurity is for people who are passionate about leading and developing teams. It’s for people who are good at communicating and motivating others, and who have a vision for the future of Cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity managers oversee the development and implementation of Cybersecurity programs and initiatives. They work with a variety of stakeholders, including technical staff, business leaders, and customers.

Cybersecurity managers are responsible for a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Developing and implementing cybersecurity policies and procedures
  • Managing cybersecurity teams and budgets
  • Overseeing the deployment and maintenance of security technologies
  • Conducting risk assessments and developing mitigation strategies
  • Responding to security incidents
  • Educating and training staff on cybersecurity best practices

Cybersecurity managers play a vital role in protecting organizations from cyber threats. They are the ones who help to build and maintain a strong security culture.

How Much Do The Good Guys Make?

Cybersecurity professionals earn some of the best salaries in the tech industry, with Glassdoor reporting an average annual salary of $100,597 in the United States.

This means that even entry-level cybersecurity professionals can expect to earn a good living. And as you gain experience and expertise, your salary can increase significantly.

Here’s a breakdown of the salary range for cybersecurity professionals in the United States, according to Glassdoor:

  • Entry-level: $56,000 – $89,000
  • Mid-level: $81,000 – $138,000
  • Senior-level: $105,000 – $185,000
  • Executive-level: $185,000+

Of course, your salary will vary depending on your experience, skills, location, and the specific company you work for. But overall, cybersecurity is a well-paying field with excellent career prospects.

Skills Required To Work In Cybersecurity

Imagine that Cybersecurity is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle represents a different skill or area of knowledge. To be a successful cybersecurity pro, you need to have a good understanding of all of the pieces of the puzzle and how they fit together.

The good news is that you don’t have to complete the entire puzzle all at once. You can start by learning about the basics of cybersecurity and then gradually add more pieces to your puzzle as you gain more experience.

Here’s a tip: Let’s walk down the imagination lane again 🥹(I promise this is going to be the last 🤞). I just want us to really get down on a personal level.

Getting Started In Cyber Security

Imagine that you want to become a chef. You don’t have any formal training, but you’re passionate about cooking and you’re willing to learn.

One of the first things you can do is start by learning the basics of cooking, such as how to use different tools and ingredients. You can also watch cooking shows and read cookbooks.

Once you have a basic understanding of cooking, you can start to experiment with different recipes. You can also try your hand at baking or decorating.

As you gain more experience, you can start to develop your own cooking style. You can also start to network with other chefs and culinary professionals.

Eventually, you may be able to get a job as a cook in a restaurant. With hard work and dedication, you can even become a head chef or even open your own restaurant.

Cybersecurity is similar to cooking. You don’t need a formal degree to get started, but you do need to learn the basics and develop your skills.

Here are a few tips to help you get started and set you on the right path;

  • Learn the basics of Cybersecurity: There are many free and paid resources available online and in libraries. You can also take online courses or attend boot camps. An example is the just concluded three-month boot camp organized by the CyberTalents team in partnership with TrendMicro.
  • Identify your interests: What areas of Cybersecurity are you most passionate about? Do you want to be a security analyst, incident responder, or security engineer? Once you know what you’re interested in, you can start to focus your learning.
  • Get involved in the Cybersecurity community: There are many online and offline communities where Cybersecurity professionals share knowledge and collaborate on projects. Getting involved in the community is a great way to learn new things and network with other professionals.
  • Build a portfolio: Once you have some basic Cybersecurity skills, you can start to build a portfolio of your work. This could include personal projects, contributions to open-source projects, or volunteer work.
  • Get certified: Start with entry-level certification courses, such as the CompTIA Security+ and the new Certified In Cybersecurity (CC) certification from ISC2. Getting certified can demonstrate your skills and knowledge to potential employers.
  • Focus on developing transferable skills: Cybersecurity professionals need a variety of skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication. Even if you don’t have direct Cybersecurity experience, you can focus on developing transferable skills that will be valuable in a Cybersecurity role.
  • Don’t be afraid to start small: Many people start their Cybersecurity careers in entry-level roles, such as help desk technician or security analyst. These roles can give you valuable experience and help you to build your skills.
  • Network with other Cybersecurity professionals: One of the best ways to learn about Cybersecurity and find job opportunities is to network with other Cybersecurity professionals. Attend industry events, connect with people on LinkedIn, and reach out to people you admire.

Remember, the most important thing is to have a passion for Cybersecurity and a willingness to learn. If you have those things, you can succeed in a Cybersecurity career, no matter your background.

Good luck!

Cover Image: Circuits ¦ Credit: Adi Goldstein