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What skills do you need to succeed in cybersecurity?

What does it take to become an expert in cybersecurity? Read on for the skills most in-demand in this thriving field.

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The world’s first computer virus, called the Creeper virus, emerged in the 1970s and infected a handful of PCs through the internet’s forerunner, ARPANET. Since then, cybercrime has ballooned into a multi-million-dollar industry, with many millions of variations of malware threatening every internet-connected device on Earth.

As a result, everyone is eager for assistance protecting their digital assets — which means cybersecurity is an excellent career option for those looking to enter a lucrative field.

What does it take to become an expert in cybersecurity? Read on for the skills most in-demand in this thriving field.

Hard Skills

Cybersecurity requires a handful of hard skills or knowledge and abilities gained through formal training, which allows cybersecurity professionals to identify threats, build defenses and otherwise keep systems safe. While top cybersecurity experts might devote years of higher education to gain these skills, beginners can gain the credentials they need through an online cybersecurity course. The most critical hard skills for cybersecurity include:

SIEM 

Security information and event management (SIEM) software is a class of tools that help security professionals track activities within a digital environment. Because SIEM is so indispensable within the cybersecurity field, understanding how to navigate these tools is imperative.

IDS/IPS

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are cybersecurity tools that analyze network traffic and thwart threats before they cause damage. Understanding how these tools work and how to deploy them effectively is key to a cybersecurity career.

Application Security

Many businesses employ cybersecurity professionals to help secure bespoke software and applications. Thus, cybersecurity professionals should have a fundamental understanding of app development to assist with closing vulnerabilities and keeping businesses and users safe. 

Mobile Device Management

Increasingly, networks include not just grids of desktops but a variety of mobile devices, like smartphones, laptops, tablet computers and more. Knowing how to integrate mobile devices into a network without compromising security is key.

Data Management

Different types of data require different kinds of management. Thus, cybersecurity professionals need to be able to recognize, analyze and securely store all types of data to appropriately assist clients.

Digital Forensics

All cybersecurity professionals will endure at least one attack, if not several. Knowing how to investigate an attack is beneficial not only in closing vulnerabilities afterward but in developing stronger defenses to thwart any and all attacks.

Soft Skills

Unlike hard skills, which are honed with formal practice, soft skills tend to be somewhat innate — though one can improve one’s soft skills with the diligent application.  Such non-technical skills can be useful in many fields, but they are absolutely imperative for cybersecurity professionals. Success in this field will come more easily to those who are adept at:

Intelligence

Cybersecurity combines a variety of existing and emerging technologies, which means professionals in this field must juggle knowledge and skill to accomplish their tasks. The density of information and the difficulty of different tasks necessitates an innate intelligence in these workers.

Problem Solving

Cybersecurity is nothing if not a long list of problems that need solving. Those looking to be experts need to be capable of identifying issues and finding answers, often taking a complex and creative approach. 

Attention to Detail

Rarely are threats to a system or network incredibly obvious. Cybersecurity experts need to be detail-oriented to detect as many vulnerabilities and risks as necessary to keep data and devices safe. One small mistake could result in millions of dollars of losses for a client, so paying close attention to one’s work is critical.

Communication

Cybersecurity is not an island. Most cybersecurity professionals work closely with dozens of other departments, many of whom lack the background knowledge and skills required for cybersecurity work. Thus, workers in this field need to be able to communicate not just with others in cybersecurity but also workers elsewhere within organizations.

Curiosity

Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field, as new threats emerge and new defenses are developed. Top security experts tend to have a natural curiosity which compels them to continue learning even as they excel in their career. As a result, they are able to deliver cutting-edge services to their clients. 

Cybersecurity isn’t a new concept, but over the years the demand for knowledgeable and skilled cybersecurity professionals has only grown. Entering this field is a smart career choice for those with the above hard and soft skills. 

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