Information technology has grown in sophistication over the last 20 years, with multiple streams of expertise, and cyber security is standing out more as one in need of new recruits.
There are boot camps for exam prep, and self-sourced learning offers another way to gain knowledge on the subject, but a full-fledged program presents a route toward gaining certification in and a comprehensive understanding of the security field.
Today, an ideal expert is T-shaped, meaning they have knowledge depth in a particular security field and soft skills such as communication. The gold standard to become a leader in the cyber security space is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, says Jeff Clark, director of customer protection and cryptographic services for ScotiaBank.
“No longer can an IT practitioner consider security as a small portion of their role. We now need dedicated skill sets and roles to keep up with bad actors on a global scale, and we need them yesterday,” says Clark. “Cyber security training through academia is unique in its ability to deliver material, exercises, and collaborative discussion topics that employ the student’s analytical and critical thinking skills.”
Cyber attackers are no longer geeks in a basement, but rather coordinated and well-funded perpetrators, maturing the tactics they use to steal data and make money. The newer generation of students have an advantage because they’ve lived more connected lives and understand that despite the risks, security doesn’t impede business, but rather increases consumer confidence, Clark adds.
Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer and cyber security specialist who has authored several books on security technology, believes that the industry is rife with opportunity for newcomers who want to learn and grow.
“There are more jobs needed to be filled industry-wide than there are people to fill them,” says Schneier. “And, there are a number of specialties within cyber security that people who are interested can look into, so this isn’t one thing that has a linear focus.”
That trend shows no signs of abating, he adds, and the fact that jobs in this particular sector can offer good salaries with upward mobility should add more of an incentive.
“If you like the concept of an adversarial situation where it’s you against someone up to nefarious deeds, then you will like working in cyber security because that’s how it is every day,” Schneier remarks.