With pandemic lockdowns and remote work, people have never been more connected to technology. With that, though, comes increasing threats to corporate and personal data from cyber criminals. In October, the Identity Theft Research Center found that data breaches were already up by 17% over 2020’s year-end figures, which means 2021 could be a record-breaking 12 months for attacks.
Given the rise in breaches, companies of all sizes are looking to hire cybersecurity professionals to help protect their operations. A recent PwC report noted that 51% of technology and security executives surveyed were planning to bring on full-time cybersecurity staff in 2021. There’s one problem: there aren’t enough cybersecurity experts to go around. A study from (ISC)², a cybersecurity professionals association, estimated that there are 4.2 million people working in cybersecurity, but that 2.7 million more people are needed to combat growing threats.
That means that those looking for a career change would be wise to consider cybersecurity. But what does that entail? In this article, we explain more about what you can expect from a role in cybersecurity and the state of the field more generally.
More Cybersecurity Professional Needed
Sonya Goulet, Cybersecurity Program Manager and Curriculum Lead with the Fields Institute, as well as one of the facilitators of Palette Skills’ Accelerated Cybersecurity Training Program, explains why the field of cybersecurity is growing so quickly. “Anything you do online has requisite data – passwords, credit cards, staff numbers, protected health information, sensitive documents like copyrights, trade secrets, patents,” she says. “Data is the new currency. It’s valuable to the hacker. Usually the way they can convert the value of getting that data is by selling it for cryptocurrency.”
Not only is it lucrative for hackers to pursue data vulnerabilities, it’s expensive for companies to manage the fallout when they’re successful. The average cost of a data breach in 2021 was $6.75 million, according to a recent IBM report. It’s up to organizations, whether they’re in government, finance, health care, telecoms or any other industry, to secure the vast amount of sensitive information to prevent data breaches. The only way to do that is to hire employees who specialize in cybersecurity – at the management and senior leadership levels, but most importantly, at the technical level-entry level, or mid-level is most needed.
Start in a Technical Position
If you’re new to the field of cybersecurity, it’s best to start in a technical role, according to Goulet, simply because these are the roles in the highest demand. There are dozens of job titles within this category, but at their root, technical roles tend to focus on analyzing and securing the data in an organization.
For example, you might choose to focus on cloud security because many companies now make use of cloud architecture instead of on-premise servers for storing their data. Or, you could consider being a cybersecurity analyst, someone who defends the infrastructure of an organization. Another option is a role as a security engineer, someone who is responsible for testing and screening security software and monitoring networks and systems for security breaches or intrusions.
Governance, risk and compliance officers, which are another role in the cybersecurity industry, help create policies and procedures in an organization to make sure everyone’s following the right protocols – where data is stored, how employees handle it, who touches it and when they should access information.
“All of these are critical pieces in an organization due to it’s all digital footprint,” Goulet explains. “It’s different from when it used to be an HR office under lock and key. Now, it’s accessed by numerous individuals within an organization through software, and that access can vary in terms of permission level.”
Skills and qualifications
You have to have foundational cybersecurity training to obtain cybersecurity roles.
Many of the skills that people learn in other technical jobs or perhaps in their spare time, such as web development, programming or understanding computer networks, are transferable to cybersecurity roles. Of course, a degree in computer science, math or engineering gives an individual advantage of being aligned well with the technical cybersecurity components.
It also helps to have critical thinking skills, know how to research and problem solve, and have an ability to analyze data. Interpersonal skills are crucial in this sector. Gone are the days when an IT department barely interacted with the rest of an organization’s employees. Now, IT is a part of nearly everything, which means communication and collaboration are incredibly important.
Palette’s Accelerated Cybersecurity Training Program will teach students everything to prepare for a new cybersecurity career, such as networking, securing and defending networks, risk management and security management and all of the soft skills– essentially, all the tools you’d need in a job placement for cybersecurity.
“The cybersecurity professional is integral in every part of an organization. They are now sitting at the table being a part of how the company moves forward,” Goulet notes. “They are part of it because of the application, the software, the people touching the data and the people who need to know how to access the data. They have to understand how to protect the business and work well with a team.”
Get set up for success
What makes Palette’s Accelerated Cybersecurity Training Program an ideal gateway into the sector is that it’s not just teaching technical skills. Students learn how to interview for jobs, prepare their resumés and cover letters, and there are industry partners ready to meet and interview students as soon as they complete the program. In fact, because demand in the field is so high, the employment success rate for graduates is nearly 100%.
“You can start a very prosperous cybersecurity career and never have to worry about unemployment for the rest of your life,” Goulet says. “The income is fabulous in this sector and you also have a great chance for career advancement. It is definitely a solid career to choose.”
The demand for cybersecurity professionals comes with lucrative salaries. Entry-level positions in Canada start at more than $70,000 per year, according to Talent.com, while experienced workers often make well over $100,000 per year.
If you are thinking about a transition to cybersecurity, apply to our 8-week Accelerated Cybersecurity Training Program. You deserve a great career! Let’s get started.
– Written by Glynis Ratcliffe