Cybersecurity skills
Image: Petr Bonek/Shutterstock

What skills do you need to work in cybersecurity?

9 Apr 2018

You only need to look at recent headlines to know that the cybersecurity industry is booming. But what skills will you need?

Cybersecurity is becoming more important every day. Data breaches are almost becoming a daily occurrence, and the war for talent in infosec is stronger than ever.

While the tech sector as a whole is struggling to find enough talent, infosec seems to be far worse off. As the demand for talented employees has skyrocketed, the development of said talent is nowhere near catching up.

Future Human

While this paints a scary picture for those in desperate need for cybersecurity experts, jobseekers looking to develop a tech career can look at this as a glass-half-full scenario.

Talent is sorely needed. Suffice to say that these employees will be well paid and looked after because any organisation that snags strong infosec experts will need to retain them. All you need is the right skills.

So, what are organisations looking for in their cybersecurity experts? What skills do you need to enter the world of infosec?

There are so many different jobs within this sector that it would be impossible to nail down the specifics, but almost any area of infosec will require a certain type of candidate with some key skills and experience.

Hard skills

First, you will need a solid grounding in IT fundamentals, such as web applications and systems administration. You will also need coding skills and a strong understanding of architecture, administration and operating systems.

In particular, you will need a deep understanding of how network routers, switches and firewalls work.

Proficiency in programming in Java, C/C++, disassemblers, as well as assembly language and programming knowledge of two or more scripting languages, will go a long way. You will need the ability to write tools to automate certain security tasks and coordinate technical vulnerability assessments.

Soft skills

Cybersecurity experts will need to be very detail-oriented. The ability to dive into technical issues and examine them from all sides will be essential for infosec problems.

On that note, excellent problem-solving, analytical and diagnostic skills will carry you through your job in cybersecurity.

Communication skills are also essential for being able to convey complex issues effectively to management and customers.

Experience and real-world knowledge

As well as having the technical capabilities on paper and the soft skills required to do the job well, this is one area in particular where it will be critical for you to keep abreast of the latest trends within the world of cybersecurity.

You will need an extremely current understanding of vulnerabilities, as well as knowledge of contemporary standards, practices and procedures around security.

Not only will you need to know how operating systems and databases work, but you will need to identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities and know security best practices. You should also understand and be able to demonstrate how attacks from the internet occur.

Ready to look for your dream job in cybersecurity? Check out who’s hiring!

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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