As the demand for talented cybersecurity professionals becomes more intense, companies are now focusing on key skills when hiring. Certainly, most organizations are well aware of the value of security personnel with current skills and education.
In a recent research report, about 92% of businesses surveyed reported that security professionals should constantly update skills to match the rapidly evolving cyberthreat landscape. One reason companies have a difficult time finding talented cybersecurity professionals is because there is a shortage of people who have mastered both technical skills and soft skills. Here are some of the top skills you need for cybersecurity job success.
A Strong Technical Knowledge Base
Most people tend to think of technical skills at the mention of a career in cybersecurity. Of course, technical skills are a part of the puzzle and form the basis of your ability to succeed in cybersecurity. The necessary technical skills can be subdivided into subcategories.
1. Practical Hands-On Technical Skills
Hands-on technical skills are acquired by actually doing the job. The practical technical knowledge can include aspects like penetration testing, firewall installation, or network configuration. The specific skills required in this area can vary significantly from one job to another. Notably, skills are continuously growing as the number of cyber threats continues to grow.
The best way to identify the most in-demand practical technical skills for most jobs is by studying the technologies listed on various job postings. Most importantly, bear in mind that the cybersecurity field is quite wide, and employers tend to list the skills they think they need most. Therefore, the practical technical skills you need to get your feet in the field may be fewer.
2. Conceptual Technical Knowledge
Conceptual technical knowledge can be loosely defined as the technical knowledge that supports practical experience. It includes things like understanding the subnetting ability and the port numbers of various system protocols. Typically, this forms the basis for the skills that help you become proficient in your work. It is the boring but very crucial base of knowledge necessary to work in the cybersecurity field.
The most appropriate way to accumulate conceptual knowledge is to dedicate time to learning something related to cybersecurity. In the end, the most valuable bits of conceptual knowledge will always come from your educational efforts. Further to enhance your cybersecurity skills, please checkout our curated list of cybersecurity online courses.
- University of Washington via edX
- 6 weeks (2-5 hours weekly) of effort required
- Course type: Self Paced
- Course level: Introductory
- University of Colorado System via Coursera
- 12 hours of effort required
- 19,753+ already enrolled!
- ★★★★★ (385 Ratings)
- State University of New York via Coursera
- 22 hours of effort required
- 12,435+ already enrolled!
- ★★★★★ (491 Ratings)
Logical Reasoning and Troubleshooting Skills
The propensity to detect problems and implement solutions is among the technical skills employers covet and often the hardest to find because it requires a lot of time to develop.
It’s vital to master the basic cybersecurity technical knowledge and hone your ability to think logically. But troubleshooting and problem-solving skills can catapult your career in cybersecurity.
To nurture your troubleshooting and logical reasoning skills, it’s imperative to acquire hands-on practice and focus on challenging scenarios that require logical problem-solving. Nevertheless, you need to do this without causing more problems.
Ability to Research and Embrace Continuous Learning
Resourcefulness and the appetite for continuous learning are vital to your success in the field of cybersecurity. And this is because cybersecurity is a fast-paced industry, and technology tends to become obsolete pretty fast. Most importantly, you have to learn to keep up with the trends and identify reliable sources of new information when necessary.
The best way to nurture your research and learning skills is by becoming a lifelong learner. Make it a habit to cultivate natural curiosity so that when you come across a problem or unfamiliar technology, you naturally embark on finding answers. That curiosity and continuous learning will be pivotal in your cybersecurity journey.
Ability to Be an Autonomous Self Starter
Most entry and intermediate job positions in cybersecurity seldom spend their time in meetings. And while you are expected to be an active part of a team, most cybersecurity roles do not include group work. Your ability to work autonomously and solve problems to keep the organization safe is what you will be focusing on.
And since this is an individual effort and trait, being a reliable self-starter is vital. The last thing most supervisors look for is a person that needs a lot of micro-managing. Therefore, if you have mastered the ability to work independently and can be trusted while working autonomously, you’ll be set for greatness.
Solution Implementation Skills
Every proficient cybersecurity expert knows how to review a company’s security system with a holistic approach. And this includes threat modeling, testing, vulnerability assessment, and implementation. They also have a deep understanding of security issues linked to networking, OS, and virtualization software.
But the most important skill is not about understanding; it’s about internalizing solution implementation. Typically, information security experts have to study the architecture networks and systems, identify the various security controls in place and determine their security levels.
Similarly, junior cybersecurity staff can use their coding skills to develop tools that automate various security tasks. But this depends on the company’s technology capability, and there is often an option of implementing pre-built tools that can take over many security functions.
Senior cybersecurity professionals are tasked with organizing and coordinating technical vulnerability assessments that include networks and systems vulnerability assessments. Often, they will oversee various assessments like web application assessments, penetration testing, social engineering assessments, wireless security assessments, and then implement the necessary security infrastructure solutions.
Information security professionals are charged with choosing and setting the technical procedures for managing security incidents. And as far as soft skills are concerned, cybersecurity personals should know how to explain and demonstrate how an attack materialized.
Communication and Leadership Skills
Experts and thought leaders in the security industry often say that soft skills like communications and leadership skills are hard to find in the industry. Basically, communication skills have always been a serious issue in the broader technology field.
But it has become quite important in business since security personnel needs to nurture the ability to communicate technical concepts in a manner that a layman will understand.
The most skilled threat hunters can barely advance their careers without the ability to explain basic security concepts to a non-technical audience. And this means skipping the complicated technical analyses in favor of plain and direct talk. In essence, you need to explain to the top management how cybersecurity risks can affect sales, profits, and reputation.
Threat Intelligence Analysis and Penetration Testing
While there are countless threat intelligence tools available on the market today, few people can use these tools to analyze threat trends properly. With the increasing cyber threats incidents, companies are having a hard time finding staff with this talent. Therefore, this job requires solid analytical skills, high curiosity, and the propensity to handle intense pressure.
Threat intelligence professionals are skilled in analyzing and interpreting digital forensics. Security professionals interested in the cybersecurity area can gain experience by working with incident response teams since this is where most of these skills are honed.
Professionals with penetration testing skills play on the offensive security side. With the expertise, they can approach companies, inform them about security weak points, and recommend appropriate remedies. However, it takes several years of intense training and experience to hone this skill, and that is why businesses are struggling to find these people.
Talented penetration testers can hack most systems. But it takes confidence and skills gained in school and hands-on experience on the job.
- University of Colorado System via Coursera
- 12 hours of effort required
- 26,683+ already enrolled!
- ★★★★★ (605 Ratings)
- New York University via Coursera
- 19 hours of effort required
- 10,380+ already enrolled!
- ★★★★★ (484 Ratings)
To succeed in the cybersecurity industry, you need to combine specific security knowledge, broad technical skills, and various soft skills. Mastering these skills will set you apart from the rest. Ultimately, becoming an all-star practitioner naturally results in lucrative opportunities in the security field.