Data breaches and cybercrimes such as identity theft, phishing scams, and hacking are on the rise in our digitally connected world. In their 2020 global report, industry heavyweight McAfee estimated that the cost of global cybercrime was over $1 trillion. This could explain why cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing professional fields.
The incalculable risk that nations, companies, and individuals face from organized and individual cyber criminals has been the primary motivator for emphasizing the critical need for Cyber Security.
So, is cyber security hard? While it is obvious that competent cybersecurity professionals are in high demand, it is natural to wonder what cyber security skills are and what it takes to feel competent in this role.
The job prospects in cyber security are growing as technology continues to advance. Learning cyber security can seem intimidating to many of us. However, if you enjoy technology and solving complex problems, various cyber security positions are available that can make your experience enjoyable and well worth the investment.
Now, for the main question – Is cyber security hard to learn? In all honesty, the answer to this question depends entirely on the strength of your resolve and the depth of your desire to succeed in a field that offers untapped potential.
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What Is Cyber Security?
Simply put, the practice of identifying cyber security threats, blocking malicious attacks, and securing internet-driven services, networks, devices, and programs from cybercriminals and hackers is cyber security.
Cyber attacks are typically used to gain access to, alter, steal, or destroy sensitive data. Identity theft, phishing, stealing personal or corporate information, forging financial transactions, and extortion enabled by ransomware are the most frequently occurring cybercrimes.
Cyber security employs technologies, methodologies, and processes to secure devices and networks from attacks. These include verticals like:
- Network security
- Application security
- Data Security
- Identity management
- Mobile Security
- Disaster Recovery
- Penetration Testing
Why Is Cyber Security Important?
The most valuable resource for an organization is its data. Companies like Amazon, eBay, Microsoft, etc., would be in serious trouble if cybercriminals had access to sensitive data about their plans, technologies, staff, etc.
According to a recent report published by a global powerhouse, 43% of cybersecurity threats are aimed at small and mid-sized businesses, only 14% of which are equipped to protect themselves. The same can be said for U.S. federal agencies like the United States Department of Defense, the United States Department of Energy, and many more.
Cyber attacks threaten the very fabric of society by putting citizens of the nation at risk. Today, cyber security has become the top priority, and businesses worldwide are equipping themselves with industry experts in the fight against cyber crimes.
How to Become a Cyber Security Expert?
If you have a degree in computer science, electrical engineering, or a related discipline, you will likely possess most of the skills needed for a cyber security job. If you are an aspiring cyber security professional in need of direction, here are four aspects you should focus on to get a head start:
Get a Degree
The cyber security domain is quite nuanced and needs expertise to some extent. Acquiring technical knowledge through a formal course will only bolster your chances of employment. Degrees in computer science, information technology, and other related streams can provide the foundation to deep-dive into cyber security.
There is no shortage of schools offering cybersecurity programs, but be sure to use reputation, course content, and the faculty board as metrics to identify schools that will pave future paths for you.
Cyber security certifications are one of the most effective ways to show potential employers what you’re capable of. Presently, there are a wide variety of online courses and boot camps that you can pursue to further your knowledge and network. To get a jumpstart, look for online resources that elaborate on basic cyber security concepts.
Technology is in a constant state of evolution. Trends that may be pervasive today can very well be irrelevant tomorrow. The cybersecurity industry also evolves daily, and prudent security professionals must make it their business to stay updated.
Attending seminars, using news curation applications, participating in workshops, and using social media to connect with cyber security experts and ethical hackers will help you gain practical knowledge and propel your career forward.
Cyber security Community
Joining the cybersecurity community is one of the best ways for budding cybersecurity professionals to check the industry’s pulse. Networking with seasoned industry experts may open doors to job opportunities and is integral to the cumulative learning process.
Platforms like LinkedIn, Quora, and Reddit are home to some of the largest and most active cybersecurity communities. These avenues make learning, networking, and upskilling easy.
Furthermore, credibility is crucial for a successful career in Cyber Security. Relevant educational qualifications and certifications will be essential for newcomers to the field. Whereas for industry professionals, academic and experiential qualifications will be crucial.
Apart from the obvious, however, a successful security professional must possess a valued and diverse set of technical skills and knowledge. These include:
Network & System Administration
Understanding computer networking is an essential skill for a cybersecurity professional. Similarly, gaining a grip on system configuration and upkeep can help derive meaningful insights into features and settings that might otherwise be a blind spot for the inexperienced.
Network Control refers to the methods, practices, and measures deployed to intensify security. Firewalls play a significant role in restricting unwanted incoming traffic to the system. Firewalls monitor and track attempts to gain unauthorized access and protect the system from unrecognized visitors.
It’s obvious, yet noteworthy that a security professional must understand operating systems well. Getting well acquainted with Mac OS, Linux, and Microsoft will help you comprehend the pros and cons of each respective system. Furthermore, you will have a battery of tools for penetration testing, research, forensics, etc.
Though not imperative, blockchain is an emerging technology that has become a subject of great interest because of its high-security capabilities. Speculations suggest this technology will play a pivotal role in mitigating cybersecurity threats, and getting an early start on it will help you stay relevant.
How Hard is Cyber Security?
Earning a degree in cyber security requires a deep conviction and commitment toward achieving the results. To ensure you get the most out of the course, make sure you:
- Maintaining a structured learning environment goes a long way.
- Learning it may be challenging, but an unenthusiastic predisposition makes cybersecurity hard to understand. Nurture a curious attitude towards the course.
- Small, consistent steps make the journey manageable.
- A sure-shot way to ensure success is to practice, practice, practice. Using simulated environments and virtual labs can help you hone your skills.
Many aspiring security professionals tend to interrelate cyber security and programming. To better differentiate between the two, take a look at the table below:
|Cybersecurity is the process of preventing unauthorized individuals or groups from accessing networks, data and devices.
|Programming is the analysis of particular requirements and the development of the tools necessary to construct the software to satisfy those requirements.
|The task of developing and executing security strategies and processes to safeguard the organization’s security position from viruses, hacking, and other breaches falls to cybersecurity professionals.
|New software must be created, maintained, evaluated, and tested by programmers.
|Requirements to become a security professional:
Attack detection and response Knowledge of programming languages Ability to hack
Understanding of digital forensics
Ability to develop, deploy and maintain firewalls
|Requirements to become security professional:
Software development experience
A track record of successful projects in a variety of languages
Aptitude in coding
Experience in using techniques and tools used for software development
How Long Does It Take to Learn Cyber Security?
You can learn cybersecurity through certification courses, short-term intensive courses, and associate/bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Whether you are a working professional looking to upskill or an undergrad looking for a viable career path, you can find a cyber security course that fits your needs.
|Takes about 2 years to complete
|Takes a couple of weeks to complete
|Does not expire
|Must be renewed
|Advanced concepts and skills are learned
|Introduction to the fundamentals of cyber security
|The objective is to grow holistic in knowledge and experience
|The objective is to pass the certification exam
|Designed to pursue management roles
|Designed to equip entry-level roles
|Results in a high increment in earning potential
|Results in low to mid-range increment in earning potential
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most systems and IT-related positions require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A degree will provide you with the necessary skills and knowledge for management positions.
Is Cyber Security Career Good?
The cybersecurity industry is one of the fastest-growing domains in the U.S. As per BLS, cybersecurity is the 8th fastest-growing industry, with thousands of open seats.
Even though several streams of IT cross paths with cyber security, the future demands highly focused subject matter experts that can guarantee protection for governments and enterprises. Here are 4 reasons why a career in cyber security is a great decision:
- Currently, the cyber security employment growth rate is projected to continue growing at a rate of 35%, which highlights abundant opportunities, job security, and growth.
- Cybersecurity professionals earned a median pay of $102,60 as of 2021.
- As per national statistics, the U.S. currently has approximately 700,000 openings in the cybersecurity domain, and the numbers are likely to grow exponentially by 2025.
- Cybercrimes and digital threats have grown immensely since the pandemic leading to a considerable demand gap in cybersecurity.
Is It Hard to Get a Job in Cyber Security?
Today, the U.S. is experiencing a talent crunch in cyber security. With hundreds and thousands of open positions, companies and national agencies are scrambling to meet their recruitment needs. Armed with a degree, the employment opportunities for cyber security professionals in the present scenario are limitless.
Some of the top cyber security jobs that are in high demand include:
Analysts examine information, look out for murky activity, and repair flaws in the system. This position usually requires a bachelor’s degree.
They design and create security systems. This is one of the most abundantly available job opportunities today.
Security architects are important for every company. They are the people that gauge the reliance on a system and ensure the infrastructure is impenetrable and upgraded with emerging technologies.
One needs a deep knowledge of network and system weaknesses to practice ethical hacking techniques. Vulnerabilities can be exposed and addressed by performing legitimate attacks and penetration tests.
Cloud Security Analyst
Most corporations are making the transition to cloud-centered technologies. Cloud analysts and engineers are in high demand and enjoy a high level of job security.
Top Employers in the United States
- Check Point Software Technologies
- Rapid 7
- Palo Alto Networks
Cybersecurity is currently one of the most promising career paths. This is especially true for those of us who are already technologically inclined. Get in touch with the New England Institute of Technology to learn more about cyber security courses that will help you enhance your career.
NEIT is one of the country’s most sought-after academies for aspiring professionals looking to study cybersecurity and build a successful career. They provide associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs to prepare you for a successful career.
Does Cyber Security Have a Lot of Math?
Most entry and mid-level positions in the cyber security domain are not math heavy. You may be required to assess graphs and data; however, an advanced aptitude in math is optional. Many have built successful careers with basic problem-solving and programming capabilities.
How Valuable Is a Cyber Security Degree?
It is significant for someone looking to build a successful career in the industry. A cyber security degree provides a deep understanding and access to professional networks, and the course helps groom professionals for management positions. Completing a cyber security degree program will help you achieve new heights if you are serious about pursuing a cyber security career.
Does Cyber Security Pay Well?
According to Glassdoor, the average salary of a cybersecurity engineer is between $106,547 to $120,000. These figures indicate that cyber security professionals earn a relatively high salary compared to most other occupations currently in demand.
Can You Get into Cyber Security Without an IT Background?
It’s important to understand that cybersecurity is a subgroup of information technology and computer science. Should you possess the relevant technical skills and have a sufficient understanding of the subject, you can pursue a career in cyber security. However, the entry barriers are much lower, and the employability quotient of individuals from IT is much higher.