The realm of cybersecurity is looking to greatly expand in 2024, presenting an opportune moment for cybersecurity professionals to immerse themselves in this field. Regardless of your background in technology or your overarching career aspirations, embracing the world or cybersecurity holds great potential.
Ironhack hopes to walk you through the specifics of a cybersecurity professional’s responsibilities and outline the importance of this field and its growing relevance across industries. This guide lays out actionable steps you can take to position yourself for success in the field of cybersecurity in 2024. Let’s get to it.
What Does Being a Cybersecurity Professional Entail?
Being a cybersecurity professional entails taking multifaceted actions with the intention of safeguarding digital systems, networks, and data from an onslaught of cyber threats. Cybersecurity professionals are responsible for protecting organizations, individuals, and governments against cyberattacks, data breaches, and unauthorized access.
Pursuing a career as a cybersecurity professional comes with its fair share of advantages and challenges. Let’s break down a few of the pros and cons of the industry:
Pro–high demand: given the ever-evolving digital terrain, there’s an increasing frequency and complexity of cyber threats. Knowing this, there’s a growing demand for cybersecurity professionals which translates into abundant job opportunities.
Pro–competitive salaries: cybersecurity professionals are often granted lucrative salaries given the specialized nature of their work and the high demand for their skills.
Pro–continuous learning: if you like learning, then that’s a positive aspect of becoming a cybersecurity professional. The dynamic field of cybersecurity requires that professionals remain engaged, adapt to new challenges, and embrace learning opportunities.
Con–significant responsibility: being a cybersecurity professional is not a job that one can slack on. They bear high responsibilities as they are entrusted with safeguarding sensitive information. The consequences of slacking off could lead to severe security breaches. This means cybersecurity professionals are under significant pressure and stress in the role.
Con–long hours: cybersecurity threats don’t necessarily sleep, which creates a need or constant vigilance. Often cybersecurity professionals will be expected to work long or irregular hours, especially during security breaches or urgent situations.
Con–risk of burnout: due to the demanding nature of the job, there’s a high risk of burnout for cybersecurity professionals. The work is often high-stress, revolves around tight deadlines, and is overwhelmed by the looming threat of a cyber attack, making it work that can weigh on professionals.
Knowing this, the field of cybersecurity offers numerous opportunities and can be incredibly rewarding work. It requires individuals to take on significant responsibilities, continuous learning, and potential stress. That said, as with any profession, the right balance of skills, interest, and dedication partnered with stress management can make the challenges enjoyable and lead to a long lasting career.
What are the responsibilities of cybersecurity professionals?
Now that we’ve laid out some of the advantages and disadvantages of working in the field of cybersecurity, let’s break down the key responsibilities for cybersecurity professionals. These include:
Identifying vulnerabilities: cybersecurity professionals must assess computer systems and networks to identify potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited by malicious actors. This means carrying out thorough security assessments and penetration testing in order to determine areas at risk.
Implementing security measures: once risks are assessed, designing and implementing security measures to protect computer systems and networks. Vulnerabilities are limited through deploying firewalls, encryption techniques, and intrusion detection systems to safeguard against unauthorized access and data breaches.
Monitoring and incident response: cybersecurity professionals continually monitor networks and systems for suspicious activities. They develop incident response plans to mitigate the impact of cyberattacks, minimize data loss, and ensure a quick recovery in the face of a security breach.
Security awareness and training: an organization’s cybersecurity protocols are only as strong as all the employees carrying them out make them. That said, a crucial responsibility for cybersecurity professionals is to educate employees and users about security best practices. Cybersecurity professionals lead training sessions to create awareness about phishing scams, social engineering tactics, and other cybersecurity threats.
Compliance and regulations: a crucial part of a cybersecurity professional’s work is ensuring that the organization is in compliance with industry-specific regulations and cybersecurity standards. They often work closely with legal and compliance teams in order to align security practices with regulatory requirements,
Ethical hacking and penetration testing: cybersecurity professionals must utilize a variety of tests in order to identify security weaknesses. Ethical hacking and penetration testing are proactive approaches that help organizations strengthen their security measures.
Keeping up-to-date: a pivotal responsibility for cybersecurity professionals is to keep updated on the constantly evolving field. In order to be in tune with potential security threats, and build the strongest security solutions, cybersecurity professionals must stay informed and embrace continuous learning.
In all, cybersecurity professionals must possess a deep understanding of technology, strong problem solving skills, attention to detail, and a commitment to ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information in digital environments.
How to Become a Cybersecurity Professional?
Becoming a cybersecurity professional involves a combination of education, practical experience, and continuous learning. Ironhack hopes this guide can help you as you learn cybersecurity and pursue a career in cybersecurity.
Qualities of a Cybersecurity Professional
If you’re new to the field, don’t worry: there are endless opportunities and entry level cybersecurity positions. That said, cybersecurity jobs require that professionals possess a variety of hard and soft skills. Successful cybersecurity professionals possess the following soft skills:
Problem solving: as a cybersecurity professional, you need excellent problem-solving skills to analyze security issues, identify root causes of issues, and develop effective solutions to mitigate security threats. A crucial part is being solution oriented; if something doesn’t work, dust yourself off and try again.
Attention to detail: being meticulous and detail-oriented is critical in cybersecurity. Overlooking small details or getting lazy in the face of potential vulnerabilities can have severe security consequences.
Ethical judgment: ultimately cybersecurity professionals are positioned to make ethical decisions regarding how to best test for vulnerabilities, utilize ethical hacking, and handle sensitive data. Having a sense of ethics and integrity is paramount to a cybersecurity professional’s success.
And when it comes to hard skills, cybersecurity professionals must possess the following:
Programming and scripting: proficiency in programming languages such as Python, Java, or C/C++ is immensely valuable in the field of cybersecurity. Scripting skills are equally essential for automating tasks and analyzing security data.
Security tools: cybersecurity professionals must be familiar with cybersecurity tools such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, penetration testing frameworks, and antivirus softwares. Being up to date with new tools and technologies and properly implementing these tools is crucial to managing security solutions.
Cryptography: understanding cryptographic algorithms, encryption techniques, and digital signatures is vital for securing data and communications.
Vulnerability assessment: skills in conducting vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to identify and remediate security weaknesses in systems and applications is crucial to a cybersecurity professional’s work.
Becoming a cybersecurity professional
If you’re looking to become a cybersecurity professional, 2024 may be your year. Cybersecurity professionals are in high demand and the industry is only growing; that said, how do you get started? Here are the most common ways individuals learn cybersecurity and enter the field:
Computer science degree: if you’re in university, pursuing a degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field will greatly enhance your credibility and job prospects.
Online courses and certifications: ultimately a university degree is not mandatory for a career in tech. We’d recommend enrolling in online or in person cybersecurity courses and certifications.
Applying for entry level cybersecurity jobs
Don’t shy away from the field if you don’t have much experience. There are many entry level cybersecurity jobs that online courses or bootcamps can prepare you for. We’d recommend the following as you apply for cybersecurity jobs and particularly entry level cybersecurity work:
Craft a strong resume: designing a resume such that it highlights your hard and soft skills, certificates, and practical experience is crucial in catching the eye of recruiters. Emphasize any transferable skills, relevant projects, internships, or volunteer work you’ve done.
Apply widely: apply for entry level cybersecurity jobs even if you do not meet all the requirements. Many employers understand that the field is highly dynamic and are willing to train candidates who show potential and a willingness to learn. Don’t let your lack of experience hold you back!
Prepare for interviews: show up prepared to discuss your skills, experiences, and problem-solving abilities. Practice common interview questions related to cybersecurity in order to demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the field.
Through following these steps, you can secure an entry level cyber security job with no prior experience. Be confident and show up ready to showcase your technical abilities, knowledge of industry trends, and commitment to collaboration and teamwork.
There are many paths into a career as a cybersecurity professional, that said, our top recommendation is to enroll in a bootcamp.
Bootcamps offer an immersive and quick way to gain the necessary skills in order to jumpstart your career in the tech industry as a cyber security professional. At Ironhack, we cater our bootcamps to what we know to be the most in-demand competencies, such that our students graduate ready to enter the job market well equipped. Our curriculum is meticulously designed by experienced cybersecurity experts and we count on the support of strong career coaches in order to fully support our students as they enter the industry.
If this resonates with you, we recommend checking out our Cybersecurity Bootcamp, which is offered both online and in-person, as a potential next step in achieving your career goals.