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December 2, 2023 - 4 minutes

What Does a Cybersecurity Professional Do?

Discover what it's really like to be a cyber professional

Juliette Carreiro - Tech Writer


With the rapid shift toward the online world and a more digital way of living, more and more companies are moving their businesses online or, at the very least, are beginning to rely on a complex computer network to conduct daily business. This has become even more pertinent with the impact of COVID across the world and the fact that lots of employees are now working remotely, away from a central hub or office. With this in mind, it is not surprising that there is an ever-increasing number of jobs in IT in general. 

Cybersecurity is one area that has a rapidly growing need for expertise and many companies nowadays require a range of IT and data security professionals. Cybersecurity careers are in high demand as the protection of data and information is an essential part of any IT system or network. 

To put it simply, people working in cybersecurity protect systems and networks from hackers and other threats and develop defenses against potential attacks. Creating a safe network, as well as developing a threat detection system and incident response, is part and parcel of a cybersecurity professional's job. Cybersecurity careers tend to be very lucrative and offer excellent scope for progression and career development.

What Does a Cybersecurity Professional Do?

Cybersecurity professionals build, test, and analyze systems to keep data and information safe from hackers and other external threats. However, that’s not it:

  • They work to identify threats and find ways to keep an organization's internal computer network safe and secure from threats such as malware, phishing, password attacks, and other intrusions. 

  • There are, however, varied roles within the industry and a few different cybersecurity careers available. 

  • There is also great scope for career development in the cybersecurity industry and it can be a great career path for those looking for long-term development.

Specific roles within cybersecurity

Just like in any career path, there are numerous and varied roles in cybersecurity; let’s cover a few:

  • Starting at the top, the CSO (Chief Information Security Officer or Chief Security Officer) is responsible for protecting a company's network and sensitive data. This person will also often manage a large team of IT security professionals and needs to have a strong familiarity with the structure of IT systems. 

  • Experienced cybersecurity professionals need to know how to protect data and run analyses that identify gaps or vulnerabilities in a computer system or network, as well as implementing defenses against possible threats.

  • Entry-level positions in cybersecurity include systems administrators and network operators, who work to ensure that the right people can access the correct network and information. 

  • Security architects design and build the security system for a company, which requires regular maintenance. 

As the online world is constantly evolving and digital platforms become more and more complex, staying up to date with the latest best practices, web development, and security updates are crucial for anyone in a cybersecurity role, and in particular, those at the frontline watching out for threats and risks:

  • Some companies may have a dedicated role or team for incident response. People in this position will analyze intrusions or potential intrusions and develop tools to repair any damage caused or prevent it from occurring. 

  • Security analysts monitor potential threats and analyze the network for vulnerabilities.

  • Security engineers develop solutions for any vulnerabilities within a computer system.

  • Intrusion analysis teams often work closely with security software engineers, who build software to protect computers from cyber attacks.

What skills does a cyber expert need?

Valuable skills for any cybersecurity professional are quite varied, but include:

  • In-depth knowledge and understanding of IT in general, including systems administration and apps. 

  • Awareness of systems architecture is also helpful, as are solid coding skills (e.g. Java, Ruby, Python, Perl, and C++).

  • Data management skills and strong analytical skills are also crucial. Likewise, staying up to date and ahead of cybersecurity threats is a big part of a cybersecurity professional's job, along with strong data management skills. 

Depending on the organization and internal structure, cybersecurity professionals may also need to generate reports for various stakeholders and are generally responsible for communicating security updates to the whole company.

Managing password resets and solving other IT issues for employees may also be among the potential tasks for those in cybersecurity roles; other skills that apply to cybersecurity careers include familiarity with computer systems, understanding how they operate and their functionalities, as well as operating systems–systems processes and commands.  Understanding the principles and protocols of networks is also important, along with the different types of networks that are available.

Further Development in Cybersecurity Careers

Those with more experience can go on to develop cybersecurity careers as security consultants, providing advice on security issues and advising on the best security practices for a company to help them avoid cyber attacks. 

And if you’re interested in expanding your repertoire, cybersecurity professionals with an interest in law enforcement may branch into computer forensics and explore cybersecurity careers as computer forensic analysts. This means working with law enforcement agencies or private firms to recover information from systems that have been attacked. 

Lastly, a penetration tester tests a network by conducting controlled cyber attacks. This helps to identify any gaps or vulnerabilities in a system's existing structure and protection. 

Practical skills such as problem-solving, analytics, reporting, and time management are also crucial in many cybersecurity careers, and no matter what field you have worked in previously, there is a good chance you have transferable skills that will be highly beneficial in a cybersecurity role. Overall, the work that a cybersecurity professional does tends to be varied and is a crucial component in the vast majority of organizations today.

Ironhack's Cybersecurity Bootcamp covers all you need to know to get started in a range of cybersecurity careers, with an introduction to general cybersecurity along with an overview of the threats and risks that those in cybersecurity careers may encounter in their day-to-day work. Ready to take on the challenge? We’ll see you in class. 

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