It is not a secret that cybersecurity can be a very rewarding career path. Demand for cybersecurity professionals is at all-time high, providing many job opportunities and excellent compensation. However, this is a complicated field that requires proficiency in diverse technologies and industry subjects. Today, I am sharing my thoughts on a few building blocks that may lead to a successful cybersecurity career.
About the Author
CEO & Founder of Dynamite Analytics
Oleg is a 20-year security software veteran leading Dynamite Analytics from its inception.
Cybersecurity by nature is a very technical industry. It takes many areas of computer science and applies them in very specific ways for dealing with cyber warfare. Having a great technical foundation and motivation to learn is the best way to break into the cybersecurity space.
My top 3 technical skill sets are as follows:
- Network Administration – The vast majority of cyber-attacks are carried out on computer networks. If you have a solid understanding of the TCP/IP stack, network protocols and tools, you have a great head start.
- Systems Administration – Network hosts like servers, desktops, and smart devices are stepping stones and eventual targets of most cyber-attacks. Understanding Windows and Linux system processes, command-line tools and shell scripting will serve you as a solid foundation.
- Programming and Data Science – The demand for cyber data mining and analytics is growing very rapidly. Proficiency with Python programming and tools like Jupyter Notebooks is a great way to differentiate yourself from other job candidates.
While the extent of skills above may seem overwhelming, the good news is that you do not have to be an expert in all areas. Cybersecurity, like other industries, has many specializations. A broad skill coverage will get you started, but your actual job will take you deeper into a specific subject.
The cybersecurity field at its core is about managing cyber risk for an organization. While strong cyber defenses are based on highly technical security operations, they must be managed within a business context. If you aspire to climb an enterprise management ladder, you need to consider taking up non-technical roles as your career moves forward.
- Audit and Compliance – Cyber risk management is heavily regulated, involving compliance with a variety of security standards that are enforced by regular audits. Cybersecurity managers must navigate the ocean of security controls, processes, policies, and procedures.
- Vendor Management – Most cybersecurity organizations rely on a variety of software and hardware vendors, system integrators, and service providers. Being able to manage external partners as a seamless extension to your internal team is a sign of a good cybersecurity leader.
- Executive Track – The position of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is the most senior cybersecurity role within an organization, responsible for managing cyber risk against business priorities. A CISO’s career trajectory often starts in the cyber technology trenches due to the specialized cybersecurity knowledge required. A technical career path, in combination with strong business acumen, will commonly evolve into many leadership opportunities.
No Substitute for Character
Considering all the above, what can really make your career shine is your personal character. The golden rule spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:12 may be more profound than you think: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.”
No matter how good your professional skills are, nobody will enjoy being around a “brilliant jerk.” Your integrity and serving attitude will make you exceptional in all areas of life, including work. Keep a high ethical standard, genuinely care for others, harness your ego, and you will reap rewards far exceeding your paycheck.
About Dynamite Analytics
Dynamite Analytics is a US-based SaaS company focused on network cybersecurity. The company’s leading platform, DynamiteLab, equips cyber and network operators with intuitive, machine-enabled analytics of network packet-captures (PCAPs). DynamiteLab operates as an international community hub for research and exchange of network traffic samples. Dynamite Analytics has won multiple US federal R&D awards pertaining to network traffic analysis.