Slideshow The Hottest Job for 2017: 10 Tips for Cashing In On Cybersecurity

  • November 28 2016, 6:30am EST
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The Hottest Job for 2017: 10 Tips for Cashing In On Cybersecurity

As we approach the New Year, the job forecasts and salary predictions all agree: The most in-demand job in IT remains cybersecurity, and the highest IT salaries in 2017 will go to experienced cybersecurity professionals. If you haven’t already gained experience in cybersecurity, here’s how to start.

Cybersecurity is the fastest growing job role

“Today, cybersecurity is arguably the hottest technology sector on the planet,” notes Ryan Naraine, head of Global Research & Analysis Team, USA, at Kaspersky Lab. “With the evolving threat landscape, the weaponization of code, and the rise of the Internet of Things, staffing skilled security professionals is more necessary and important than ever before. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that employment of computer and information technology professionals is expected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. This is expected to add 488,500 new technology professions, from about 3.9 million to 4.4 million jobs during this ten year time frame.”

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Job growth corresponds to the increase in threats

“The growing demand for cybersecurity professionals is directly correlated to the increase in the number of sophisticated cyber threats businesses are regularly facing,” according to Naraine. “With an average of 315,000 malware threats detected on a daily basis, organizations are quickly realizing that in-house expertise is required for faster, more cost-efficient assistance.”

The shortage of talent bodes well for security contractors

“Today’s lack of in-house cybersecurity talent is leading businesses to pay a premium – up to three times more – for third party security services,” Naraine says. “Recent research found that large businesses hiring outside help pay between $1.2 million to $1.47 million to recover from a cybersecurity incident, compared to large businesses who have in-house IT security experts to handle a crisis who pay a cost of $100,000 to $500,000.”

A perfect time to test the waters in cybersecurity

“As the New Year approaches, many take this time to refresh their goals and career paths,” Naraine says. “The cybersecurity sector provides exciting, rewarding careers that are complex in nature and, perhaps most importantly, largely in need. Pulling from my experience as a member of Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research & Analysis Team (GReAT), those who seek this new career path should leverage the following tips to jump start a profession in the cybersecurity industry come 2017.”

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Fuel your passion for cybersecurity as early as possible

“Cybersecurity professionals come from a wide range of backgrounds,” Naraine notes. “Each person contributes a unique set of skills and expertise, but the one thing they have in common is a passion for what they do. This passion often originates during childhood. It’s common for cybersecurity professionals to start learning coding techniques and working with computers at a very young age.”

Curiosity and an open mind will serve you well

“Some of the best cybersecurity minds aren’t formally educated; in fact, many people first enter the industry as a hobby with home testing labs,” Naraine explains. “That said, I recommend attending university and completing a degree, simply because it shows drive and follow through. Never stop asking questions. Don’t be afraid to learn new things, be open minded (try to go the extra mile when you learn something), and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Apply for internship positions, even if there are no openings displayed on the website. Sign up for your local security group in your city. Get involved in local security social groups and expand your network among peers. In many ways, your social circle is just as important as your security education.”

Decide on an education or certification route

“Typically, there is no streamlined route to get into cybersecurity from education to industry,” according to Naraine. “Most cybersecurity jobs require a four-year college degree, while others require experience and industry standard certifications. In fact, Burning Glass, a job posting site, reports that one third (35 percent) of cybersecurity jobs call for an industry certification, while 84 percent of the site’s cybersecurity postings specify the need for at least a bachelor’s degree.”

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Colleges and universities offer specialized programs

“Some critics claim there is a lack of cybersecurity skills in computer science college degree programs,” Naraine says. “Some regions are even taking steps to ensure that those pursuing relevant qualifications will receive a basic grounding in cybersecurity fundamentals. To complement this, many universities currently offer specialized cybersecurity degrees with post-graduate opportunities available upon completion of the degree.”

Gain practical experience in general IT

“Having experience in a related discipline, such as IT support, allows you to migrate skills into, or specialize towards, the cybersecurity field through training or self-education,” Naraine explains. “In order to have a successful career in cybersecurity, you should be capable of everything a traditional IT person is capable of and more. You can't be expected to protect computers if you don’t know how to properly administer and configure a computer system on your own.”

The basic skills needed to succeed in cybersecurity

“Some individuals will begin their cybersecurity career with an entry level job or internship in IT, to gain a few years of experience on a resume,” Naraine explains. “Fundamental skills required for cybersecurity jobs learned in these IT roles include administering and configuring systems, database management, coding, audit and compliance, firewall/IDS/IPS skills, analytics and intelligence, SIEM management, access/identity management, advanced malware prevention, and cloud computing/virtualization. While these are the most common skills, most cybersecurity roles require a handful of these skills and more.”

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Stay informed of trends in cybersecurity

“As with all industries, it's important to stay on top of industry news and trends,” Naraine stresses. “Make yourself knowledgeable by reading about the latest cybersecurity threats and challenges on a daily basis. Don't just read technical information, but dive deeply into each individual case. It’s important to learn about the business ramifications and how the actual breaches and attacks unfolded. The more you know, the more you're able to put yourself in the shoes of the cybercriminal, which is one of the most important qualities an experienced cybersecurity expert can have.”

Get involved in cybersecurity competitions

“Industry competitions are a great way to get yourself noticed,” Naraine advises. “If you enter competitions, and progress to the face-to-face stages, you are likely to meet people in the same industry and potential mentors who can advise you throughout your career. An example of such an initiative is Kaspersky Lab’s Talent Lab, an international competition for university students and young professionals aged 18-30 that encourages talent to find innovative solutions to various cybersecurity challenges. Sign up for your local security group in your city. Start doing Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions. A good starting point for future CTFs is Find some friends from your university or social circle and start solving the challenges! You never know how things will turn out in the end.”

A new year is the perfect time to consider a role change

“While we’ve already witnessed a spike in the number of cybersecurity professionals needed in the workplace, experts predict the need will only continue to rise as more organizations look to hire internal expertise,” Naraine says. “With a new year often comes a new career, making it the perfect time to consider a profession in the booming technology sector.”