From insurers Hiscox reporting that more than half of firms have experienced a cyber-attack in the past year to the NHS being hit by ransomware, cyber security is as much a hot topic in the news as in the jobs market – this blog gives a snapshot of the why, what, where and how of getting into a career in cyber security.
Why cyber security? As the amount of commercial and organisational activity conducted through or dependent on the internet continues to rise and cyber criminals and hackers become ever more sophisticated, cyber security skills are fast becoming some of the most sought after in the technology and financial services sectors. This rapidly growing demand is creating a number of opportunities for graduates to build a career in a diverse and ever-evolving field. Being so diverse, the cyber security field offers a range of both technical and non-technical roles open to graduates from a variety of disciplines. Keywords such as ‘cyber’, ‘security’, ‘information risk’, ‘information assurance’ and ‘penetration tester’ will help you to search and explore this wide range, as well as track down entry-level and graduate roles.
What is cyber security? Cyber security involves developing and employing a range of technologies, processes and practices to protect computers, data and networks from attack, damage or criminal intrusion. Cyber security, therefore, isn’t just about ensuring that an organisation has the right technical infrastructure, such as firewalls and anti-virus software, or detecting and stopping system breaches. It’s also about putting in place the right policy and procedures to ensure those technical measures are supported by the behaviour of staff, such cautious web browsing, proper use of hardware, software and data, and the use complex passwords.
Where can I find roles in cyber security? The main employers of cyber security professionals are specialist firms whose staff are hired for their expertise by a range of institutions and businesses. However, some larger organisations that handle and, therefore, need to keep secure particularly large amounts of data – such as network providers, banks, airlines, universities, and the government – employ in-house cyber security teams. There is also potential for self-employment as a consultant.
How can I get into cyber security? Cyber security is particularly suited to graduates with a degree in computer science or STEM subject. But given the diverse skills required by the array of roles on offer, it’s not unheard of for graduates from other disciplines to get into the field. Clearly, strong technical knowledge of hardware, software and networks is a key skill for cyber security professionals, but equally important is having an agile mind-set and keen problem-solving ability.
As with breaking into any career, building your CV through work experience, internships and personal projects (like mastering popular encryption tools) alongside your academic achievements to show that you have both the technical know-how and transferable skills to succeed, will put you in a stronger position. Look for graduate schemes, such as those offered by ING/East London Business Alliance, GCHQ, Marks & Spencer, BAE Systems, IBM, FDM and Atos. There are also a number of specialist postgraduate qualifications on offer. Book a 1-to-1 appointment with a Careers Consultant to explore your options.
Another option for kick-starting your career is to enter a Cyber Security Challenge UK competition, designed to identify people with cyber security skills with prizes such as paid internships and bursaries for relevant university courses on offer.
Want to know more? Find out lots more about careers in cyber security with Cyber Security Challenge UK, Inspired Careers, Prospects and TARGETJobs. Read what professional penetration testers have to share about getting into the field.