Contrary to some popular perceptions, cybersecurity is not about defending against men in ski masks hunched over laptops. Similarly, cyber attacks don’t consist of hackers typing furiously on a keyboard before declaring “I’m in.”
In reality, cybersecurity is an aspect of IT management that is an issue because of the evolving nature of threats and a relative lack of professionals in the field. Those with a better sense of the workings of cybersecurity may picture an expert as an IT specialist trying to contend with the many vulnerabilities inherent in any enterprise system.
In reality, the work is more satisfying than stressful. Whether you work in the IT department for a company or a managed services offering for cybersecurity (as I am), it can be fulfilling to know that you’re acting as a gatekeeper for one or more organizations. There seem to be some misconceptions about the industry in general. The challenges in the form of numerous cyber attacks can be seen, but it has never been a better time to break into the industry.
The Information Bind
One of the issues facing the industry is a simple lack of information. According to a survey from the University of Phoenix, most US adults are not aware of many of the cybersecurity jobs available. This is compounded by a large percentage who are not aware of the education they would need to prepare themselves for such a career, even if they have a background in skills such as programming and data analytics. It may be that, as a still-developing industry, that colleges and universities will have to emphasize cybersecurity as a career option.
Are You a Problem Solver?
As another angle, it’s worth considering the mindset required by anybody looking to break into cybersecurity. Though the technical skills necessary to get into the field exist in abundance, aspiring cybersecurity professionals should think about whether they have the problem-solving mindset. In cybersecurity, situations can change in an instant, and the ability to adapt to new information is something that cannot be taught.
More Than Just Technical Skill
In cybersecurity, strengths come not only from the ability to work with enterprise systems and identify potential attack platforms but interpersonal skills as well. A CISO or similar will need to impart critical information to employees to respond to a breach or train them in best practices. A professional in the industry shouldn’t work independently of any other department—they should be actively involved in the affairs of their organization.
Diversity is also something that the cybersecurity industry has struggled with in recent years, even as it has been proven that diverse perspectives provide benefit to any workplace. As previously mentioned, problem-solving is essential, and attracting a more diverse crop of candidates can lead to even more opportunities in the industry. It comes down to existing professionals to appeal to top talent, selling the many opportunities available to anybody making the switch to cybersecurity.