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What to expect from a role in cyber security

Filed under: Features — Jonathan on July 19, 2013

Cyber security is an umbrella term which embraces a range of measures and tasks aimed at protecting IT systems from digital crime and malfeasance. Indeed, the array of cyber threats is ever present, with cybercriminals constantly looking for new and different way to penetrate corporate and government systems. Indeed, a core part of any cyber security professional’s daily work is simply keeping up with the latest inventions by the authors of malicious code.

Common cyber threats with which businesses have to contend include the following:

– Unsolicited network intrusion (or hacking): This can be for any number of reasons, but stealing client details (include login and credit card details), or industrial espionage, are common ones.

– Denial of Service attacks: These are attempts to bring down a network by flooding it with pointless or bogus requests, to the point that it is incapable of handling normal traffic.

– Botnets: Hacking into, then harnessing the power of, individual computers (to form a “botnet”) in order to carry out co-ordinated cybercrime activities.

– Mobile device malware: Cyber criminals are focusing increasingly on mobile devices as users are less familiar with how to make them secure. What’s more, they tend to mix company and personal business on their phones and tablets, potentially providing rich pickings to those with dubious intent.

The various roles

A cyber security professional could come at these threats from a number of different angles depending on their job of choice.

In the role of security analyst, for instance, you would be expected to have an all-but- perfect combination of detailed knowledge and forensic attention to detail. Your job would be to audit a computer network, identify any potential weaknesses and suggest realistic solutions. You would need excellent people skills too, as uncovering bad news and telling senior people all about it is not the most comfortable task in the world. Striking the right note while proactively suggesting solutions is most important. As well as proven experience in IT networking, a suitable qualification for this role could be a degree in cyber security. Alternatively, a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) certification might well come in handy.

On the other hand, as a Penetration tester (or pen tester), you would have a more hands-on and practical role. Your job would have the relatively narrow focus of trying to expose weaknesses in a corporate security setup by simulating a hack. A deep working knowledge of networks and security protocols, as well as of advanced hacking techniques, would therefore be essential.

Finally, on a more senior level, as a Chief Information Security Officer, you would be considered to be at the height of the cyber security profession. Your role would be strategic, a lot to do with spotting trends early and getting appropriate defences in place. It is highly likely that every aspect of the cyber security scene would land in your in-tray at some time or other – from decisions about firewall hardware purchases to invitations for address conferences.

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