The internet can be a scary place where dangers lurk around every corner, but luckily we have a network of professional superheroes working to defend us and our sensitive data. Cybersecurity is so much more important than many of us realize; without those professionals, the internet would be quite unsafe to use.
Before we dive deeper into the challenges that cybersecurity professionals may confront and the tips to deal with them efficiently, let’s take a look at the field of cybersecurity: what is it?
Cybersecurity: A Quick Summary
Most people have a few thoughts when they hear the word cybersecurity. Security refers to protection and cyber pertains to the internet and technology. Cybersecurity is much more complex than simple protection over the internet. What else does it entail? Let’s dive in:
The first line of protection against a threat is cybersecurity professionals that prevent them and defend users’ sensitive data. Cybersecurity professionals have a variety of techniques to protect data, including:
Access control and user authentication
Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS)
Data Loss prevention (DLP)
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
When hackers do reach sensitive data, it’s important for cybersecurity professionals to know that it has happened so that they can start troubleshooting. For cybersecurity professionals to be notified, they need to use different techniques that will detect a perceived or actual threat and then notify them of it. They may employ techniques such as:
Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)
Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
Once the threat is detected, the final steps are to destroy the malware or corrupted software and respond to the threat with an incident response plan.
They’ve detected and analyzed the threat and now it’s time for some action. Hackers sometimes do reach the data and cybersecurity professionals must have a strong incident response plan, which consists of:
Preparation: to initiate the plan, the team has to be prepared and ready to set it into motion; this entails frequent simulations, training sessions, and a detailed guide.
Identification: at this stage, cybersecurity professionals verify that the data breach occurred and identify how the hacker carried out the cyber attack.
Containment: the first thing a cybersecurity professional may want to do when they find the malware is delete it directly, but it’s more beneficial to contain and isolate it to where it can no longer do any damage. This way, they can also study the trail and the malware itself to prevent future data breaches.
Eradication: now that the malware has been contained, any and all traces of it need to be deleted too. At this point, security needs to be reinforced and any necessary updates must be applied.
Recovery: bringing systems back to their original safe status is the goal of the incident response plan. The business can once again use the system without fear of a further data breach.
Post-incident evaluation: the last step is evaluating and analyzing the incident response plan to see where the team could have done better and highlight the wins that the team had. Holding a meeting after the completion of the incident response plan will give the team an opportunity to reflect on the full process together.
These three steps function as a continuous cycle for cybersecurity professionals. Most often they are dealing with both threat protection and detection as they focus on maintaining safe networks and defending their clients’ sensitive data; however, threat eradication happens sporadically when there is a sudden data breach or cyber attack.
Real world applications of cybersecurity
Since our society depends so much on technology and the internet, there’s a huge need for cybersecurity defense and solutions. Where can we see it in action? Check out some examples:
Government: countries around the world have hundreds of millions of citizens and each one comes along with a large footprint of data and information. Not only do citizens have their own files and data, but governments have a range of services, organizations, and other entities that they need to keep private. Cybersecurity professionals are constantly protecting this information from falling into the wrong hands because it is so sensitive.
Financial services: the financial sector depends highly on the internet to not only store and hold capital, but also to make transactions and interact with the stock market. Cybersecurity professionals must protect financial data because stealing financial data is oftentimes direct theft, or can lead to it.
Healthcare: in addition to a large amount of patient data, healthcare uses many IoT, or Internet of Things, devices that, if hacked, would be very dangerous directly to the health of a patient or to their data. The information harvested from hacks past medical portals detail so much about the individual and could be used in a variety of ways to harm them.
Cybersecurity is ubiquitously found throughout the internet and given its vastness, there are challenges that go along with it. Nevertheless, where there’s a problem, there’s also a solution.
The following are the most important cybersecurity challenges that a cybersecurity professional may experience, in addition to our advice about overcoming said challenges.
Lack of company resources and management
The tech world has expanded exponentially and one of the most available jobs related to tech is cybersecurity. Currently, there are 1 million cybersecurity open positions around the world and because of that, many companies are hiring their first-ever cybersecurity professionals. Walking into a company that doesn’t have an established cybersecurity department can be hard and stressful since it would fall on the new recruit to work with the company to create and design it from the ground up.
Ironhack’s tip: being the first one to work as a cybersecurity professional in an office can be scary but incredibly empowering! You have the opportunity to build a department from scratch and the best way to do it is to depend on other contacts. Networking and knowing other people is really helpful in this situation because it’s likely that cybersecurity professionals with more experience have lived a similar experience and can provide you with insight. So reach out!
No room for errors
As a cybersecurity professional, you may feel pressure to protect data at all costs. It’s a high-stakes situation and this can cause a lot of stress, long, sleepless nights, and other issues in your personal life.
Ironhack’s tip: As mentioned above, threat eradication is a part of the cycle and as a cybersecurity professional it’s essential to remember that cyberattacks and data breaches do in fact happen and it’s normal. It’s not a matter of if, but rather when and having that in mind may lighten the mental load. By no means should you relax, but remember that it’s an important job. When it’s impacting your mental or physical health, it’s time to look to reassess.
Keeping up with trends
Technology is constantly shifting and developing and hackers continue learning and adapting their own strategies to improve their likelihood of reaching and acquiring their target. For cybersecurity professionals, part of their job is staying not only up to date, but also ahead of the curve so that they can keep their company data safe.
Ironhack’s tip: consistent education is the key to keeping up. Courses, workshops, conferences, events, magazines, newsletters, podcasts, blogs, and online resources are all mediums for learning about new techniques and dangers. Dedicating two to three hours a week just to reading about these trends can be extremely useful.
When there are no data breaches, everything is fine
Everything is quiet and there haven't been any cyberattacks. What do you do? It can be easy to relax and think that no noise means that everything is perfectly fine. Unfortunately, in the world of cybersecurity, sometimes no problems may mean the opposite.
Ironhack’s tip: it may seem monotonous, but daily threat checks are necessary when working as a cybersecurity professional. Threat detection techniques are essential in these lulls since a data breach may have happened and threat detection techniques will alert cybersecurity professionals to the presence of malware. Constant vigilance of all networks can be facetious, yet they are crucial.
They aren’t prepared for a cyberattack
Cyberattacks will happen and when hackers do reach that information, the incident response plan should be like second nature; however, that isn’t always the case. Companies may have the plan in place and not execute simulations or practice that may cause a lot of confusion, hesitation, and/or reluctance when it does happen.
Ironhack’s tip: although you don’t have control over whether your department employs simulations and practices, you can take it upon yourself to practice on your own. It may not be the same as doing it with your team, but you will at least cover your own tracks and avoid becoming flustered or confused.
Similar to all fields in tech, cybersecurity has its challenges and for every hardship or difficulty, there is a way to attack the problem. If you want to help others, protect their data, and prevent cyberattacks, Ironhack’s Cybersecurity Bootcamp is for you!