CYBER SECURITY IS ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING AREAS OF TECHNOLOGY, BY FAR.
It offers a wide range of opportunities for both technical-minded and more strategically focused people and incorporates a rare mixture of areas that you don’t see in other areas of technology as strongly.
But cyber security isn’t just about technology. It’s about the risk, the people, the legalities, everything else in between and the overarching policies and processes that ensure everything ticks in the way that it should.
Companies are increasingly realising that a strong cybersecurity strategy is essential in today’s business environment. So, if you like being at the forefront of new technologies, solving challenging problems and working collaboratively, it’s an exciting career choice.
Essentially, cybersecurity professionals work to protect the assets and value of a business. Just like a security guard at a store or museum, cybersecurity experts put in place safeguards and run practice drills to make sure hackers can’t walk away with a business’ money, products, intellectual property, HR data, or anything else that the business needs to operate successfully.
So, what does a cybersecurity role require, and how do you get into the field? We sat down with Emily McMeeking, solutions & services manager at BSS, to find out more.
Emily is the solutions and services manager for BSS, a small cyber and risk solutions firm. She works with customers to identify challenges and risks and finds experts within particular fields to remediate them. Emily is also a cyber security consultant and provides extra support when necessary. She mostly consults around GRC, third party risk and ISO27001.
Cybersecurity is an excellent field to enter if you enjoy solving challenging problems and having no two days be the same.
Today’s cyber landscape comes with a variety of threats for organisations, such as the rapid rise in ransomware attacks over recent years or the growth of organised cybercrime groups.
Remote work in the post-pandemic era has also added new challenges. With workforces now dispersed geographically, the possible attack surface has grown significantly. In turn, it then becomes more difficult to monitor what’s going on with all teams at once. Working in cybersecurity involves finding ways to best protect companies from these possible attacks while also looking at the human side of technology and using non-technical skills like communication.
A career in cybersecurity involves solving not just today’s problems, but also tomorrow’s, which makes it an exciting industry to work in.
GETTING INTO CYBERSECURITY
You don’t need a computer science degree to work in cybersecurity—my degree is in neuroscience, which is what first sparked my interest in criminality and hacking.
My first role was part of a graduate scheme at a major reseller, where I was working across a range of tech areas including platform, hardware, networking, and security.
Security sparked my interest at this first role, in part because of my background in neuroscience and my interest in how criminality plays out. I began to see where the gaps were between the threats organisations were facing and the level of their current cybersecurity, and became interested in how to help them address these vulnerabilities.
Since then, I’ve worked across both the private sector and the public sector, which has given me a great overview of the different security challenges faced by different sizes and types of organisations.
I’ve also worked across a few different industries, which has given me insight into how security landscapes can differ, especially in highly regulated industries like financial services or the NHS, where the need to protect patient data means a strong cybersecurity strategy is essential, but the resources available for cybersecurity aren’t as easy to come by as in the private sector.
I love the variety a career in cybersecurity provides. My current role is in account management, and essentially involves doing everything I’ve done in my career at once.
My job involves a mix of business development and consulting. I get to the bottom of the challenges faced by my clients, helping them develop solutions, and seeing those solutions through to completion.
Honing communication skills in addition to understanding the technology behind the threats you’re helping mitigate and the protection measures you’re putting in place is also key skill you’ll learn working in cybersecurity. Your ability to understand business objectives, strategy, and management is also incredibly valuable, as is being able to build relationships with clients.
As I said, you don’t need a degree to work in cybersecurity and there’s a path for everyone, regardless your background or skillsets.
Ultimately, If you enjoy problem solving and building relationships with clients, as well as gaining an understanding of organisations in a wide range of industries from the inside out, I’d encourage you to consider a career in cybersecurity.
TAKING THE LEAP
Unfortunately, women are still underrepresented in cybersecurity. It’s a career path which is notoriously male dominated but don’t let the statistics deter you. The number of women across both technical and strategic roles is growing year on year.
There are lots of great resources out there to get started, including women in cybersecurity groups that you can find online, which provide support, guidance, and sometimes run events to help you get started. These groups are often broken down geographically, so take a look online for one in your area.
Cybersecurity is an increasingly important part of the business and tech landscape in the 21st century. A career in cybersecurity means solving the problems of the future and taking on a new challenge every day, combining technical skills with business acumen and communication abilities. If that sounds up your alley, I’d strongly encourage you to consider it as a career option in 2023.