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4 qualities you need to succeed in a cybersecurity career

14 Oct 2022

Cybersecurity requires people who see the ‘big picture’. To get ahead in the sector, you should work on the soft skills to complement your tech skills.

Cybersecurity professionals are in demand right now, and have been for the past number of years. This is partly because cybersecurity is an ever-evolving industry and partly because there’s a pretty significant skills shortage in the sector.

These two problems are interconnected in that it’s proving tough for organisations to hire people with cybersecurity knowledge because that knowledge is constantly changing.

Last October, a report by international cybersecurity organisation (ICS)2, claimed that Ireland needs 10,000 workers to plug its own skills gap.

With new tech and increasingly innovative cybercriminals, almost every business needs to have cybersecurity staff. But, often, either the professionals aren’t out there or they don’t have the requisite skills.

Many organisations are racking their brains trying to figure out how to solve this problem.

That’s not to say that there are no talented cybersecurity workers here in Ireland. There are plenty. If you are one of them and you want to improve your skills, read on.

Attention to detail – risk analysis and legal

Cybersecurity is about identifying possible risks and then working to mitigate these risks. You have to be alert, dynamic and adaptable in this career.

Part of your job will include carrying out security audits for organisations so you can identify flaws and vulnerabilities in their information systems. It’s pretty high stakes, because if you don’t spot flaws in time, an organisation’s internal data could be compromised.

Another area it’s important to pay attention to is the legal aspect of cybersecurity. If you work for a business that stores customer data, you need to keep up-to-date with privacy and security laws around this, otherwise your employer could get stung with fines.

Adaptability – incident response

When there is a security problem you have to act fast and smart. The problem might not always be obvious at first, which is why you’ll need to be calm and troubleshoot thoroughly.

Use all of the technical skills (more on those later) in your arsenal to inform your response. For colleagues who aren’t as technically minded or who don’t work in cybersecurity, you will have to communicate very clearly to them what the problem is so they are made aware.

Some problems can be fixed easily, but more often they are company-wide or happen because somebody is careless. You might have to implement strategies for co-workers to avoid stumbling on security challenges as they go about their work.

Tech skills – network security, operating systems

Cybersecurity workers should be comfortable with all operating systems, such as Mac OS and Windows.

You should know how to configure and maintain computers, too. This means playing around with their settings, including their firewall settings.

It’s also vital to have a very good understanding of how networks work as this will help you understand how data transmission works from a technical point of view.

It goes without saying that these are the bare minimum when it comes to tech skills for cybersecurity. There’s a whole lot of other areas you should be keeping an eye on including cloud, data science and more.

You can do short online courses to brush up on your tech skills via platforms such as Coursera, Udemy and CompTIA.

Coding skills

Like the general tech skills above, you can also look into doing short courses online to boost your coding knowledge.

There’s a lot of programming languages out there, so if you know even one or two you’ll have an advantage.

C and C++ are languages you should definitely acquaint yourself with as a cybersecurity professional. HTML is another good one to learn, and it is relatively simple to pick up.

Other examples include JavaScript, which can prevent cross-site scripting attacks; while Python can help identify and fix vulnerabilities.

SQL, Go and PHP are others you might want to consider.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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