Cybersecurity Skills for 2017



Not enough people understand the value of practicing good cybersecurity strategies to protect their personal data, and surprisingly the same is still true of many businesses. Perhaps not too surprising when we consider the big name breaches making world news, most devastatingly the $1 billion Yahoo accounts breached just last year. The gap for cybersecurity professionals is a critical one for organisations to fill, though with so many roles going unfilled due to a shortage of properly qualified professionals those candidates planning to make a dent in the cybersecurity skills deficit would be wise to educate themselves on the must-have skill areas employers are desperately in need of for 2017. 

Network Security Analysts are first on the list of coveted cybersecurity jobs in hot demand on the market. Receiving a median salary of around $64,000, network security specialists are key to managing a business world that revolves around virtualisation and cloud initiatives. Applying security experience and technical knowledge, organisations need those individuals who are adept at identifying suspicious network activity. Quick-thinking when it comes to defending vulnerabilities within an organisation’s infrastructure, experienced network security experts possess the know-how to protect their business. Candidates looking for roles in this area should focus their search onto technology firms, consulting companies, government, retail and healthcare who are specifically hiring to boost their network security function. 

Often candidates applying for cybersecurity jobs are told that a vital skill to have in their armoury is the ability to think like a hacker and that’s where the need for penetration testers comes in. Effecting regular checks on services and applications, penetration testing is the answer to foreseeing an organisation’s areas of weakness and security flaws that could lead to the leaking of sensitive data. From phishing employees via email to scanning a company’s network for vulnerabilities and bombarding servers as a real life attack would, these “ethical hackers” are able to detect the holes in a company’s systems as well as guiding said company to a fixable solution. In strong demand, the average salary for a qualified penetration (or pen) tester rests somewhere around the $79,000 mark. 

Application security is another key area employers are seeking skilled cybersecurity professionals in. With many organisations not acknowledging the need for secure software and application development practices which should comprise a core element of their security strategy, a rise in data breaches is only likely to continue. Investing in strengthening their applications may demand significant outlay for businesses in the short term but will pay off down the track as those applications will be less likely to sustain a breach later on. Candidates looking to get into this sect of cybersecurity, which typically starts employees on salaries of around $66,000, should look to upskill their application security knowledge by familiarising themselves with secure coding practices and obtaining the relevant certifications. 

Businesses lacking in knowledge of cloud security are nurturing a culture reluctant to employ cloud initiatives. The security benefits related to cloud technology are thus misused creating opportunities for data breaches, identity and credential hacks and improper technology use. Professionals with cloud security skills, and the addition of a CCSP certification, are of huge value, promoting good insider threat detection critical to accelerating cloud investment.  

From cloud to data security, the latter finds itself at the very top of the business priority list for 2017. As the devastation in the aftermath of hacks like the ongoing Cloudbleed breach which has impacted Uber, Yelp and Fitbit, the need to better protect sensitive data increases. With the average cost of a data breach leaving organisations short $5.28m (or the equivalent of 20% of their revenue), not to mention a dent in their brand reputation, employers are upping the ante in the search for skilled data security professionals. Furthermore, ahead of the EU GDPR regulation, due to be enforced in May 2018, the pressure is on for companies to invest in the relevant experts in order to strengthen their compliance with existing and future standards when it comes to data protection. 


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