6 Essential Skills for Cyber Security Professionals

August 2nd, 2013 | Articles, Job Search | No Comments »

IT Security

Cyber security is one of the most high-demand, lucrative careers in the current IT job market. According to a report by Burning Glass Technologies, the total number of available jobs in IT security has grown by 73% from 2007 to 2012. That’s 3.5 times faster than other IT disciplines and 12 times faster than the average for all other jobs.

Now, with major security breaches afflicting upper level tech companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Sony which would presumably have secure infrastructures, every competitive business is vying for the top security talent to keep their data safe. So, if you’re looking to cherry pick the best of the best positions, a cyber-security professional like you needs to look into mastering these certifications and skills.

Pick Up Security Certifications

There are a number of information security certifications, with broad and magnified focuses, that are imperative for any cyber-security professional worth his or her salt to know. Security certifications provide a potential employer with a twofold incentive for adding you to the team. One, it shows that an impartial board of accredited professionals is willing to stake their reputations on your subject matter mastery. Two, it shows that you’ve been schooled in a high standard, ethical approach to your job. That way, they’ll feel assured that you’re not a Black Hat masquerading as a cyber-security tech for just long enough to infiltrate their system and gorge yourself on the data held inside.

Though any certification is better than none, here are five that will definitely turn heads:

CISSP – The Certified Information Systems Security Professional

If you have at least 5 years of IT experience, this certification is essential. CISSP opens you up to work with the Dept. of Defense (it’s a non-negotiable for their contractors and employees) and can elevate your salary to six figures.

CISM – Certified Information Security Manager

CISM can give anyone interested in mid to senior level cyber-security management positions the chance to prove themselves to employers. Focused on governance, compliance, and risk management issues, this certification is another key to landing high profile positions.

GIAC – Global Information Assurance Certification

More on the specialized side, the GIAC certifications can provide cyber-security professionals with hands-on technical training with a tightened focus. Major areas of focus are incident handling, forensics, intrusion detection, and reverse malware engineering, skills that will pay off in the trenches.

CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor

A 2011 Tech Republic identified the average salary of a CISA cyber-security pro to be $115,000 (imagine where that number is now). Sure, the test is admittedly a certification gauntlet not for the faint of heart but the benefits of passing this test (held twice a year) are incredible.

CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker

For those less established in the world of cyber-security, the CEH is a great way to boost your reputation. Big companies like Fortune 500s are looking to staff their entry level positions with CEH certification holders. The allure of a relative rookie who can perform web application and penetration testing without blinking an eye is too great to pass up.

Cryptography, Cryptology, and Software Obfuscation

Have a penchant for mathematical algorithms? Your passion could land you full-time or contract work with cutting edge software companies. A division of cyber-security is arising with the ultimate goal of creating an ironclad impediment to hackers that prevents them from seeing and stealing sensitive information. It’s known as software obfuscation, a process which encrypts software in a way that prevents any use contrary to the original intentions, and it’s becoming more and more effective.

Before, the cryptographic process could only keep hackers at bay for a few days tops but now, a research team out of UCLA might be able to keep intruders dumbfounded indefinitely. They’ve created a system that is impossible to reverse-engineer without solving mathematical equations that most can’t compute in any timeframe less than several hundred years. So, if you can put those types of algorithms to use in software, creating a multilinear jigsaw puzzle that is near impossible to decode without the key, software developers will be knocking at your door.

Staying Sharp

These certifications and skills are definitely at the cutting edge now but if you get complacent, you won’t stay in-demand for long as the world of cyber-security continues to turn. Legions of hackers regularly descend upon cyber-security structures, turning what was once impenetrable into digital slag before less proactive security architects and administrators know what’s hit them. So, to keep those juicy contracts coming your way and avoid seeing your handiwork in ruins, you need to keep your skills sharp or risk hackers busting through your rusty locks.

by James Walsh

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