Acting as the policing equivalent for the cyber sphere, the job of a cyber security professional is essentially to apply their expertise to identify and prevent cyber-attacks. Being able to differentiate between a possible intrusion attempt and general network traffic is a key skill in cyber analytics, where the bulk of the job involves intensive analysis.
Responsibilities of a Cyber Security Professional
Cyber security jobs have quickly become a priority for businesses all over the world as the number of threatening security events increases, technology continues to advance and the hackers get smarter in their quest to override and undermine the parameters of cyber security. So for candidates applying for a role in cyber or information security they should be aware of the expectations that will be placed on them:
- Staying informed of the latest international security news via every medium, including social media
- Analysing and evaluating potential security threats
- Monitoring and analysing a business’s network to prevent theft of sensitive information
- Putting plans and measures in place, ie. firewalls, passwords and encryption to combat a security breach
- Preparing technical reports
- Educating other areas of the business on the importance of cyber security
A Day in the Life
Regardless of the specific title of a cyber security professional, the day that lies ahead of them is unlikely to follow a generic 9 to 5 pattern. The unpredictable nature of information security means that though certain tasks will always need to be completed, such as checking in with the latest security news reports, the days’ events will likely differ from its predecessors. The likelihood is that cyber security experts will be working for a number of different types of businesses and when one comes under attack the job that unfolds consists of various components of detection, prevention and protection. Due to the immediate and sensitive nature of a cyber-attack and its effect on a business, the cyber security team will work day and night to expose the attack, shut down access to IT systems, remove the network’s weak spots and then reach out to affected customers and stakeholders.
The job of an information security manager or risk analyst is to act as the front line of defence against external threats through constant monitoring and analysis. Implementing measures to keep a company’s security systems up to date is vital in establishing a protective shield against hackers. Analysis equates to the bulk of a cyber security professional’s daily job load, with around half their time committed to dealing with current detections and incidents and slightly less than that dedicated to the detection of new threats.
Understanding potential threats relevant to the specific business they could endanger is key to successfully navigating their demise, with cyber security analysts needing to be able to detect a breach as soon as it occurs and effect an immediate response plan to minimise potential loss. Cyber analysts need to think like a hacker in order to premeditate their actions and prevent them. There are those professionals working in cyber security whose job it is to test a company’s system with the sole purpose of exposing any holes in their security. Assuming the role of hacker, they attempt to override the passwords and security applications within the organisation’s network whom they are working for; this then highlights what upgrades are required to strengthen security. So not only building systems but also deconstructing and destroying them to better understand how a hacker would infiltrate the network is a key skill in the field of cyber security.
In addition to staying updated with security news events, a cyber security professional will also have access to the tools of the security trade as they come onto the market, experimenting with them to remain informed of how cyber criminals operate. With a worryingly expansive appetite for customer information, both financial and otherwise, those working in cyber security jobs have an increasing responsibility to ensure businesses and individuals are aware of the risk they face without the proper security protocols in place. Thus a proportion of the time must be spent explaining the role and importance of cyber security to all departments within an organisation.
Jobs within cyber security typically carry the expectation of confidentiality, as most businesses won’t want it made known that they have fallen victim to information theft thus bringing disrepute and distrust to their brand. While the majority of calls received by cyber security analysts come in the aftermath of an attack, there are those clients who bring in an INFOSEC team as a precaution in order to nullify any potential risk. In these cases, the cyber security experts will conduct a thorough security assessment to identify where the organisation may be vulnerable and then put a plan in place in the event those vulnerabilities fall prey to a cyber-attack.
Candidates applying for cyber security jobs need to demonstrate a highly scientific, mathematical and analytical mind, the aptitude for creative thinking, excellent communication skills and a passion for understanding and staying informed of the latest technology. Professionals coming from IT Audit, risk, compliance, IT or an executive within a business are the common contenders for information security roles. However, aside from technical expertise, cyber security professionals need to have the right attitude as the role can see you sitting at a computer for hours on end, sifting through reams and reams of information and being available at any time of the day or night.