Once upon a time, all threats and security measures were located in the physical world. The defenses against burglars were walls, locks, and armed guards. If a piece of valuable information needed protecting, it was kept in a vault with a key or combination in the hands of a select few. Today, the nature of security has transformed, and the new frontier of both theft and defense is in the digital realm.
Information is easier to transmit than ever. Cloud software and internet video conferencing allow for remote collaboration and telecommuting, giving companies more freedom in terms of hours and location. Productivity has skyrocketed. But then, so have cyberattacks.
Hackers have more means of infiltrating a company’s defenses than at any point in the past, with cybercrime increasing by 600% since the beginning of COVID-19. Unfortunately, one in five small businesses doesn’t have any cybersecurity defense, and one in three rely on free cybersecurity software.
Having a cybersecurity specialist in-house or even as an out-of-house resource is essential to keep your company from suffering a serious data breach. Will there be some cost involved in hiring a cybersecurity specialist? Yes. However, the cost won’t be as high as what you’ll experience if you have sensitive information stolen.
What Does a Cybersecurity Specialist Do?
The short answer is that a cybersecurity specialist protects your company’s information against hackers. They are either part of the IT department or work closely with IT. Their specific skillset involves:
● Finding security vulnerabilities
● Creating strategies to fight threats
● Making reports regarding the state of a company’s cybersecurity
● Assessing strategies and implementing security measures
● Responding to security incidents
You should expect any cybersecurity specialist you hire, whether they work in your building or not, to stay on top of the latest security trends and news. New viruses are developed constantly, and hackers are always revising their techniques to be even more sneaky.
Cybersecurity specialists also focus on seemingly more mundane tasks, such as updating software with patches or upgrading to new hardware. These activities may seem routine, but they prevent hackers from using known security vulnerabilities.
How Much Do Cybersecurity Specialists Make?
On average, cybersecurity specialists make around $90,000 per year. This figure can fluctuate based on location, with small markets paying in the $65,000 range, with large cities like San Diego paying, on average, over $155,000 per year. This number can be even higher with the growing demand for specialists.
This cost might sound like a large financial investment to make, but consider it this way: Hackers and scammers, who are working diligently to separate your company from its information, can steal financial data that could funnel far more money than the yearly salary of a cybersecurity specialist into their pockets.
Also, many businesses that have experienced ransomware attacks have ended up paying millions to hackers to regain access to their data.
If your business stores consumer data that gets stolen, you may face lawsuits from angry customers. Companies with government contracts through the Department of Defense are subject to the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Compliance (CMMC) framework, which outlines specific penalties for having lax cybersecurity standards.
What Does It Take to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist?
Since cybersecurity is a rapidly expanding field, it’s not surprising that there are more education and certification opportunities than ever before.
Education and Degrees
Before there were specific degree paths for cybersecurity, companies looking for someone to head up their cybersecurity efforts would look for a candidate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology.
These are still excellent degrees to get, especially when paired with the appropriate certifications, but there are now specific degrees in cybersecurity, as well.
Those who get an education in cybersecurity will get a bit of a head start over other degree holders. Cybersecurity curricula focus on coursework that will be more targeted at information defense rather than a broad view of computer technology and information systems. These courses include:
● Digital and computer forensics
● Database design and administration
● Information assurance
Generally, it will not be necessary to have a postgraduate degree to become a cybersecurity specialist since this is more of an entry-level field. Once someone wants to move into being an analyst, architect, or engineer, they’ll need to have more specialized training.
A great cybersecurity specialist is always improving their knowledge base and their skills. Having certifications shows that they are on top of the latest security trends and techniques. Some of the more high-profile certifications include:
● Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
● Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
● Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
● CompTIA Security+
● EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)
● Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
● Certified in Risk and Information System Control (CRISC)
This list is not comprehensive, but achieving any of these certifications demonstrates a top-level marketable skill and shows that the individual is knowledgeable about cybersecurity methods. Each certification requires extensive training and testing to get, so they’re something you’ll want to look for on a resume.
Hiring a fresh cybersecurity specialist shouldn’t be concerning as long as they have relevant experience. Having done internships or entry-level jobs within the field of information technology or computer science is essential. In those positions, an individual would have become familiar with cybersecurity techniques and practices.
Having experience in these fields also helps someone make the appropriate connections to enter the world of cybersecurity. Since it’s a fairly new field of study, many people enter cybersecurity laterally from a related field, and those who have networked will have created the right connections for making such a transition.
Someone who has worked as a network or system administrator would find the switch to cybersecurity to be a logical step.
The old trope of the grouchy, reclusive computer nerd is outdated. Anyone with a position in cybersecurity will need to develop soft skills in addition to their hard skills. Soft skills include public speaking, developing presentations, having good people skills, and solid communication.
Hard skills, like understanding how to code and set up a network server, are essential, too, but without the requisite soft skills, a security employee can never be a real benefit to the company they work for because they won’t be able to communicate their knowledge to others in a meaningful way.
What Is the Value of an Experienced Cybersecurity Specialist?
Your cybersecurity specialist will be one of your major lines of defense against hackers and scammers. Not your only line of defense, but possibly the most important.
Every employee in your company needs to have a basic understanding of cybersecurity, but that understanding will likely be imparted by your cybersecurity specialist, which is why their soft skills are so important.
Hackers look for the weakest targets in an organization to get passwords and usernames or gain access through poorly secured workstations. Your cybersecurity specialist will be able to identify these weak points and work with your staff to ensure they’re able to fend off hacking attempts.
Having an experienced, knowledgeable cybersecurity specialist prepares your company for the future. You don’t have to have a deep understanding of firewalls, antivirus software, and the security vulnerabilities of certain computer hardware, but they do.
They will ensure that your IT infrastructure remains up to date and able to serve your employees’ needs. Their actions will help you avoid downtime and maintain a competitive edge.
How SugarShot Cybersecurity Services Keep You Safe
SugarShot is a leading technology support company offering cybersecurity services, MSP support, and IT infrastructure. As a pioneer in modernizing the way in which technology and IT support are offered to businesses in the United States, we believe we offer the value and power of technology-enabled growth, done differently.
SugarShot has an entire team of cybersecurity specialists. We know how to create and maintain an IT infrastructure, and we know how to defend it, too. Pioneering and modernizing technology and IT support is what we do, and we offer value and the power of smart tech.
For businesses in the United States, Sugarshot offers complete managed IT and cybersecurity services so you can continue to do business with peace of mind. If you want to keep your data safe, contact us today, and we’ll make it happen.