Working in cyber security

Looking for a new career direction? Working in cyber security is a challenging and rewarding choice that can deliver both good career prospects and a flexible balance for working parents.

In this article we’ll explore a cyber security job description and find out what it’s like to work in this sector.

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What is cyber security?

Cyber security is a term that describes any activity that’s taken to protect people and businesses from online crime. That might include hacking, online fraud, data breaches, leaks or any kind of digital attack on a company or person’s online information.

As life moves increasingly online, criminals are ever-seeking more sophisticated ways to make money through illegal means. It is estimated that around half of UK businesses have been subject to some kind of attack in the last 12 months. Cyber security is the practice of defending against online crime.

Cyber security job description

A general cyber security job description is as follows:

Cyber security professionals search for vulnerabilities and risks in hardware and software and manage and monitor any attacks and intrusions. It is their role to research and suggest security measures for all information and to design strategies and defensive systems against intruders.

A cyber security specialist will also monitor systems for unusual activity, reporting any incidents and leading the response. As cyber security is a rapidly changing area, you must keep up to date with the latest trends, developments and defences.

Cyber security roles are amongst the highest paying jobs in technology. Salaries range from around £20,000 for entry-level cyber security consultants, to more than £100,000 for security directors at the top levels of business.

Types of cyber security

Much as there are different kinds of cyber crime, there are different roles within cyber security. Typical areas of include:

  • Infrastructure security: protecting major systems from failure. Examples might include a power grid or air traffic control.
  • Network security: making sure that internal networks can’t be broken into, to protect important and confidential data.
  • Application security: Defending apps and programmes from being attacked by criminals.
  • Information security: Protecting both physical and digital data against unauthorised access.
  • Cloud security: Using and designing software to help eliminate the risk of people accessing information that’s stored virtually.
  • Data loss prevention: Developing policies and processes to prevent data being lost and information being exposed.
  • End-user education: Training and supporting company users and customers from inadvertently putting information and system at risk.

What qualifications will I need?

Many cyber security jobs will require education to degree level, ideally in a related discipline. You can study for a degree specifically in cyber security, but computer science and information technology degrees will also be relevant – as will most mathematical and technology qualifications.

You can also study for other cyber security qualifications – but do seek out apprenticeship and other traineeship opportunities where you may be able to study alongside work, as part of the role.

Check out the cyber security courses available with our partner e-Careers.

What kind of person is suited to cyber security?

Cyber security is essentially about identifying and managing risks and problem-solving, so it will suit anyone who likes addressing challenges and has a good understanding of technology.

You will also need to be a good communicator to explain the risks and how to mitigate them.

As cyber crime and security is such a rapidly changing area you will need to ensure your knowledge and skills stay relevant, so it’s important to enjoy learning and keeping up with the latest developments.

Finding jobs in cyber security

Cyber security is a very important area of IT, and there tend to be more vacancies than people, so it’s a career choice presenting lots of opportunity.

It’s easy to find cyber security roles all over the UK using online job boards. Once you are working and building up your network, you should encounter many more job options.

Flexible working in cyber security

Like most technology roles, flexible working arrangements are becoming more and more common. Remote working is the norm for many companies today, catching up with colleagues, clients and partners via video conference and online collaboration tools.

Because cyber security specialists are in high demand, it is usually straightforward to negotiate part time or flexible hours, although this sector can of course require significant time commitments if a crisis does hit your organisation.

Generally, cyber security roles are considered to be relatively family-friendly and a good choice for working parents.

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