20 Cybersecurity Skills to Boost (or Jumpstart) Your Career

Erin RuppErin Rupp | 10 minute read | May 3, 2022
Cybersecurity Skills to Boost (or Jumpstart) Your Career

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Cybersecurity—the practice of securing networks, devices, and data from unauthorized access or theft—has never been so essential. But the need for cybersecurity experts is currently outpacing the supply of qualified candidates. Unfilled cybersecurity positions reached 3.5 million in 2021, up from 1 million in 2014. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 33% increase in cybersecurity jobs between 2020-2030. As Vasu Jakkal—corporate vice president of Security, Compliance, and Identity at Microsoft—has said, “Cybersecurity needs you.”

To become a cybersecurity analyst, you must first know which skills are required to land a job and succeed in this industry. Here are 20 skills that every cybersecurity professional should have.

Technical Cybersecurity Skills

cybersecurity skills: Technical Cybersecurity Skills

Technical skills are essential for anyone looking to jumpstart their career in cybersecurity. Here are a few of the most common technical skills for a cybersecurity analyst.

Networking and System Administration

Networking and system administration are two of the most important technical skills for cybersecurity professionals. Networking involves configuring and managing computer networks, while system administration is the managing of systems that run on those networks.

Networking and system administration allows you to build and maintain network infrastructure. This is essential for protecting data from unauthorized access or theft. These skills also set a strong foundation for building other technical skills.

Networking and system administration basics can be learned in technical schools, colleges, online certificate programs, or bootcamps. The CompTIA Security+ certification is one of the entry-level networking and security certifications that lead to specialized careers in cybersecurity. 

Risk Analysis

A risk analysis examines potential problems with the goal of preventing or mitigating those issues. Analysts consider the possibility of adverse events, identify their potential for harm, and estimate their likelihood. 

Risk analysis is critical for cybersecurity professionals because it allows them to assess the impact of potential security breaches. In addition, analysts can develop strategies for preventing and responding to them. Cybersecurity professionals can acquire risk analysis skills by taking specialized courses in risk management or security studies.

Security Incident Handling and Response

cybersecurity skills: Security Incident Handling and Response

Incident response (IR) management is the monitoring of a security event from start to finish. This process involves identifying and investigating security incidents, overseeing response efforts, and restoring systems and data to regular operation.

Security incident responders work to neutralize or eliminate the immediate security threat, while IR analysts oversee the implementation of solutions. In a security system breach, the IR analyst is responsible for determining a remediation strategy. 

Cybersecurity professionals can acquire security incident handling and response skills by participating in training programs or workshops, reading learning materials, and attending conferences.

Security Auditing

Security audits allow organizations to identify any weaknesses in their security infrastructure. During this examination, security professionals measure if security protocols comply with a list of established criteria. Auditing also ensures that organizations comply with regulatory requirements and industry standards.

Auditing skills are essential for cybersecurity professionals. Auditing skills require an in-depth understanding of everything from hardware configurations to user data. Staying up to date on the latest security trends and the practices of other organizations is essential as well.

Laws and Regulations

Regulations and laws govern the field of computer security. While there is no single federal law regulating cybersecurity and privacy, several states have passed laws regarding cybersecurity and notification of data breaches. Because these laws and regulations can differ from one state to another, professionals need to be familiar with the specific rules in their region.

These laws protect individuals and organizations from cyberattacks, so knowing and understanding them is crucial to mitigating risks and resolving problems. Reading government websites, consulting with legal professionals, and attending industry conferences are excellent ways for cybersecurity professionals to stay up to date on the laws and regulations governing their field.

Understanding of Operating Systems and Virtual Machines

Cybersecurity professionals must be familiar with operating systems and virtual machines because these are two of the most common attack vectors. The implementation of OS and VM security techniques includes antivirus software, regular OS updates, and firewalls.

Cybersecurity professionals can better understand operating systems and virtual machines by reading technical manuals, taking online courses, and attending industry conferences.

Network Security Control

cybersecurity skills: Network Security Control

Network security control is a critical skill for cybersecurity professionals. By using network security controls, professionals can detect and prevent unauthorized network access, identifying and mitigating potential security risks.

For cybersecurity professionals, understanding how to control network security and safeguard data is vital. Some of the most common security controls include firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems. Professionals can create a robust defense against cyberattacks by using these and other security controls.

One of the best ways for security analysts to learn network security control skills is by attending a cybersecurity training program. These programs offer students a comprehensive and in-depth look at how to protect computer networks from cyberattacks.

Malware Prevention

Malware can cause harm to individuals and organizations, including theft of data, destruction of data, and even financial damage. Knowing how to prevent malware attacks is a crucial skill for cybersecurity experts, as 28% of data breaches are caused by malware. Many methods and tools are available to protect computers from malware, including antivirus software and authentication methods. Using these skills, professionals can detect and prevent unauthorized access to their systems and mitigate potential security risks.

Those working in cybersecurity can acquire malware prevention skills by taking security courses, participating in security training programs, and staying abreast of the newest threats. In addition, cybersecurity professionals can also join cybersecurity forums and discussion groups to learn from others.

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Coding

Programming languages used in cybersecurity are intended to protect networks and systems against intruders or attackers who want to hack into their operating systems. 

Some of the best programming languages for cybersecurity include:

  • C and C++. These are the most powerful languages since most computers run on them. They are more complex than higher-level languages like Python or Java.
  • JavaScript. This is one of the most important languages on the web. This is also one of the most hacked tools since it can collect user input and browser data and manipulate webpages for virtually any purpose.
  • Python. Security professionals can use this code to automate scripts, enabling them to build programs instead of buying them.
  • SQL. Structured Query Language (SQL) is the programming language that manages databases and data stored within them.
  • PHP. The PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) language makes updating websites convenient. About 78% of websites are written in PHP

For entry-level cybersecurity jobs, coding expertise isn’t usually a requirement. But as you advance in your career, you’ll need to interpret lines of code. Coding can be learned online or through educational institutions. Code tutorials, among other online resources, can assist individuals in gaining the skills needed to code effectively.

Cloud Security

Businesses using cloud computing must ensure that their systems are protected from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. Since many organizations now store their data and applications in the cloud, cloud security is a critical skill for cybersecurity professionals. The most significant security risk in the cloud is user misconfiguration, so security professionals must understand how to configure the system correctly.

Professionals in the cybersecurity field can acquire cloud security skills by taking courses or attending seminars. They can also read articles, white papers, and other materials on cloud security or speak with other professionals who specialize in the topic.

Familiarity With Analytics and Intelligence

Familiarity With Analytics and Intelligence

Analytics and intelligence are essential for cybersecurity professionals to effectively protect their systems and data. These skills are essential for predicting and understanding cybercrime behavior. Understanding how attackers operate is a critical responsibility for cybersecurity analysts, as it enables them to protect their systems and data.

To acquire a familiarity with analytics and intelligence, cybersecurity professionals can attend courses or workshops that teach these topics. They can also read books or articles on the subject, or watch videos that explain these concepts.

Intrusion Detection

An intrusion detection system (IDS) identifies malicious activity or policy violations on a computer or application. Most IDS solutions, such as antivirus software, also include intrusion prevention capabilities. They can identify threats in real-time and report them to the appropriate personnel.

Some of the critical skills needed for intrusion detection include identifying suspicious activity, understanding network traffic, and using detection tools. Cybersecurity professionals can learn and grow these skills by taking courses or training programs on intrusion detection.

SIEM Management

SIEM is vital in cybersecurity because it allows professionals to monitor and manage the security of computer systems and networks. SIEM helps companies detect and respond to cybersecurity threats by collecting, analyzing, and reporting security event data. 

Cybersecurity professionals can acquire SIEM skills by taking courses and training programs that teach how to collect, analyze, and report security event data. They can also learn about SIEM by reading books and attending conferences and webinars that focus on SIEM.

Soft Skills Required for Cybersecurity Jobs

Cybersecurity professionals need to have a combination of technical knowledge and soft skills. Here are some of the most relevant soft skills required for a cybersecurity career.

Communication Skills

Cybersecurity requires effective communication. Analysts must be able to convey complex technical information to other team members, clients, and customers. Furthermore, being able to communicate is key to teaching people security policies and protocols, recording security events and audits, and presenting potential solutions to management. 

Analytical Mindset

To protect their networks, cybersecurity professionals need to be able to think logically and critically. This skill is essential for cybersecurity professionals because it allows them to approach complex problems and find solutions. This skill helps analysts break down problems into smaller, more manageable parts to quickly find answers.

Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Problem-solving skills are crucial in cybersecurity because they allow professionals to identify and solve complex problems quickly and efficiently. Panelists on the Wall Street Journal’s Cybersecurity Executive Forum said they don’t necessarily look for technical skills when recruiting, and that problem-solving skills matter more.

Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is a crucial skill in cybersecurity, where one mistake can have serious consequences. IBM reports that nearly half (49%) of data breaches are caused by human error and system errors. In addition, security threats can be difficult to recognize because they often involve small changes that may not seem significant. Security analysts must notice these little details right away to protect their network’s security.

Adaptability

In cybersecurity, adaptability is vital. New technologies and security threats are constantly evolving. A successful security analyst continuously monitors developments in security software and the latest trends in cyber threats. Adaptability allows security analysts to improve security practices as changes occur.

Critical Thinking

Effective cybersecurity specialists need to possess the critical thinking skills to analyze problems, evaluate alternatives, and decide upon a solution. 

Jill Knesek—Chief Security Office at Cheetah Digital—has said, “The most critical skill for a cyber security professional is critical thinking—understanding the ‘why’ and not just the ‘how’ so you can make good decisions and implement solutions that address the root cause of an issue and not just the symptom.”

Always Learning

The cybersecurity field is constantly advancing and changing as the digital world does. The best way to combat cybercrimes is to remain aware of industry trends and adjust to evolving techniques. Security analysts must engage in continuous, open-minded self-education to adapt to their environment. 

4 Ways to Acquire Cybersecurity Skills

4 Ways to Acquire Cybersecurity Skills

If you are interested in pursuing a career in this field, you can do a couple of things to acquire the necessary skills. Consider these suggestions:

  • Pursue a degree in cybersecurity. You can acquire the necessary skills to work in this field by taking comprehensive courses that lead to a degree. Undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity programs are available at many universities and colleges.
  • Attend a training program or bootcamp. Training programs can help you develop the skills needed to become a security analyst, usually in a shorter time than a degree program. Professionals in the cybersecurity field often get their skills from certificate programs and on-the-job training instead of a degree program. Bootcamps like Springboard are also an excellent option to receive a comprehensive education in all skill areas needed for cybersecurity.
  • Study cybersecurity books and attend conferences. Cybersecurity is the subject of numerous excellent books and presentations. Though these materials may not provide you with all the information you need, they are excellent supplements to cybersecurity education. Watching recorded cybersecurity conferences can also help you absorb information much faster. 
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity news. Keeping up with the latest news can be challenging, but there are many cybersecurity news sites, blogs, and magazines that can help. CyberCrime Magazine is a leading source of information regarding the cyber-economy, including employment statistics and cyber-security spending data.

FAQs About Cybersecurity

Still have questions about cybersecurity careers? We’ve got the answers to some of the most common questions.

Does Cybersecurity Require Coding?

No. Coding is not essential for beginners in cybersecurity, but learning to code can be beneficial, as it gives you a better understanding of how systems can be attacked. Furthermore, programming knowledge can open doors for career advancement.

What Are the Best Ways To Learn Cybersecurity?

There are many ways to learn cybersecurity. People who prefer self-study can learn cybersecurity on their own. Others prefer taking classes or attending cybersecurity bootcamps. Find a method that works for you and that offers the cybersecurity resources you need to excel.

Can a Beginner Learn Cybersecurity?

Beginners can definitely learn cybersecurity, prior computer knowledge or experience is beneficial but not necessaey. Most programs have their own requirements. Some may have prerequisite courses or require programmings knowledge. 

Students can enroll in Springboard’s Cybersecurity Career Track regardless of their work experience or field of study. You just need strong analytical skills and the determination to complete the course.

Since you’re here…
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Erin Rupp

About Erin Rupp

Erin Rupp is a productivity, design, and lifestyle writer. Her words have been featured on Springboard, Freedom, and BlissMark. When she isn't clicking-clacking her way through the day, she's writing snail mail, jamming to classic rock, and proudly sporting a writer's bump.