Cybersecurity, Information Technology Security or Computer Security, is the discipline of safeguarding computers, networks and other related infrastructure from unauthorised access. Due to the rising risk of data loss, data breaches, malware and other similar threats, the demand for experts in cybersecurity has increased substantially.
Essential Qualifications for a Career in Cybersecurity
The minimum educational requirements for entry-level Cybersecurity roles differ depending on the job position. Nonetheless, the qualifications below are typically essential for such roles:
- A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information science or a related field that takes four years to complete.
- Adeptness in utilising the three most commonly used operating systems, namely Windows, Unix and Linux.
- Competency in programming; acquaintance with SaaS and cloud platforms; and other related skills.
- Comprehensive knowledge of computer and network security, ethical hacking, network testing, and similar fields, with relevant certifications.
The Most Common Entry-Level Roles in the Field of Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity industry is continuously evolving, with novel threats being discovered frequently. It is therefore imperative for those working in this field to keep up with the latest trends to stay ahead of potential risks. Various positions are accessible in the cybersecurity industry for both junior and senior levels. These roles comprise, but are not restricted to the following:
1. Security Analyst
- Security professionals are experts in detecting and resolving security gaps in computer systems. They investigate security incidents, evaluate the extent of the damage and recommend the appropriate actions needed to resolve the problem. They also meticulously supervise and ensure conformity to security procedures, and devise and execute effective solutions.
2. Technical Security Analyst
- Security Engineers are responsible for continuously analyzing and monitoring data to identify any possible security incidents and taking decisive action. They are also obliged to keep updated on the latest methods and technologies that enhance security infrastructure.
3. Security Planner
- Security Architects are accountable for devising and executing security infrastructure. Hence, it is recommended to have a Security Architect in charge of any team entrusted with this job.
In Cybersecurity tasks, adept advisors and specialists are accessible to deliver expert and specialized knowledge. Such individuals are commonly highly skilled in a particular area of Cybersecurity.
The Cybersecurity industry has diverse elements that are specific to different locations, such as the range and magnitude of employment opportunities available. This is because different regions have varying needs, and diverse companies of different sizes and types. The roles available in the Cybersecurity sector include administrative, protective, and security services.
Common Hazards in the Cybersecurity Industry
Daily, Cybersecurity professionals encounter an extensive range of hazards. There are myriad of possible risks and weaknesses that must be closely monitored.
1. Concealed Entrances
- A backdoor refers to any tactic that aims to circumvent authentication or other validation techniques. These backdoors can be created intentionally as part of a system or algorithm, or they may arise unintentionally due to shortcomings in the design or development phase. Regardless of their purpose, whether malicious or designed for legitimate use, they heighten the susceptibility of the system. Identifying backdoors necessitates source code access and/or a comprehensive understanding of the computer’s operating system.
2. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks
- Denial of Service (DoS) attacks are malevolent actions aimed at obstructing legitimate users’ access to a system’s resources. This is accomplished by overwhelming the system/network with incorrect passwords, locking accounts, or exhausting the resources. It is more frequent to experience multiple attacks from various IP addresses than a single IP address, which makes them simpler to predict and thwart.
3. Direct Access Attacks (DAAs)
- Assaults on computer systems where an assailant has direct access to the device are termed physical attacks. This may involve stealing information, introducing loopholes, or other ill-intended activities. To curb the risk of such attacks, disk encryption and trusted platform modules can be employed.
- In this social engineering attack, attackers impersonate legitimate users with the aim of obtaining their login details. This is accomplished by sending deceitful messages that induce the user to disclose and input sensitive data.
- Impersonating a legitimate user and providing counterfeit credentials to illicitly gain access to confidential information is known as spoofing. Some spoofing techniques, such as email spoofing, resemble phishing, whereas others, such as IP address spoofing, MAC address spoofing or biometric spoofing, involve obscuring pertinent identification data.
Cyber Security Countermeasures
Previously, we have delved into the various risks and vulnerabilities prevalent in the cyber security domain. Thankfully, there are techniques to manage these threats, although their categories remain unaltered, despite the divergent cyber security roles. The employment of countermeasures such as specific procedures, hardware or software is necessary to pinpoint and prevent vulnerabilities and threats, while confining their impact. Depending on your role, you may be obligated to take one or more of these universal cyber security countermeasures.
Incorporating Safety in Design: Implementing safety measures from the beginning is imperative, and as such, several security measures are usually deployed. These may involve:
The “Least Privilege” Principle: This principle guarantees security by segregating sensitive data. It entails restricting access to data or privileges solely to what is required by different components and/or users for accomplishing their respective tasks. This ensures that if a hacker gains entry to one part of the system, their access to the rest of the system will be restricted.
Defense in Depth: This functionality is akin to the one mentioned previously, although it operates by combining human, technological, physical and procedural measures, rather than relying on data segmentation to establish multiple barriers. Fail-safe digital processes can be established to reduce the impact of possible breakdowns. Improving vulnerability disclosure and communications can shorten the attack window and minimize the potential failure points in the event of an attack, while also aiding investigations by enabling the tracing of trails, making it difficult for offenders to conceal their actions.
Infrastructure for Security: The IT security framework is established by the placement and integration of security controls in the overall IT architecture to guarantee the observance of different security aspects, including privacy and authentication. Essential elements of such a framework comprise standardized controls, the adoption of risk assessment to determine controls, and the acknowledgement of associations and interdependencies among the various components.
Managing and Minimizing Vulnerabilities: To guarantee the security of our systems, it is crucial to identify any existing vulnerabilities and take appropriate measures to mitigate their impact. This should consist of regular scans for open ports and outdated software, as well as system upgrades and frequent penetration testing.
Abbreviated Forms Used for Cybersecurity Job Titles
Cybersecurity is a swiftly advancing field, with emerging threats surfacing regularly. Therefore, those who venture into this profession are anticipated to possess a superior level of comprehension of technical jargon than in other early-career roles. Familiar expressions utilized in the realm of Cybersecurity encompass:
Computer-Assisted Theorem Proving: This branch of mathematics leverages computers to establish the validity of theorems. Proof verification, conversely, involves inspecting the precision of pre-existing proofs. As an effective ‘security by design’ method, it is used to validate the reliability of critical applications.
Integrity Continuum: This technology is employed for protecting against malicious code, while simultaneously providing a great deal of adaptability. It is a vital component of cybersecurity, as it is utilized for certifying digital certificates.
Endpoint Protection: This phrase refers to a mechanism of safeguarding computers using wireless connections between client devices. Endpoint security aims to guarantee that endpoint devices adhere to basic security necessities, as these connection points are exposed to security risks. Antivirus software has evolved into more resilient security measures that can detect, explore and counteract data leakage protection threats.
Logic, Time, and Fork Bombs: Logic bombs are malicious software that remain inactive until a particular trigger is initiated. They can either function independently or be part of a virus or worm. They share similarities with time bombs in that they can be configured to trigger at a specific date and/or time. However, the principal difference is that logic bombs may also utilize alternative triggers, such as time-based conditions, while time bombs only function to start and stop. Fork bombs, by contrast, possess a trigger but do not execute additional code – rather, they replicate ceaselessly, consuming the machine’s resources.
Firewalls: They are a form of network security system that inspect data traffic among protected and vulnerable networks, using an established set of regulations. Usually, they are utilized for blocking data from moving from a confidential network to the broader internet.
Inert Air Gaps: Establishing an air-gapped network is a security strategy adopted to diminish the possibility of unauthorized entry into a confidential network. It is accomplished by physically segregating the network from public ones and ensuring that no network interfaces exist on the air-gapped system or network.
Submissions Focusing on Cybersecurity and Job Vacancies
With the ubiquity of computers, networks, and software, cyber security has emerged as an essential component of nearly every industry. Prominent instances encompass:
Financial Techniques: Malicious actors have recently targeted the financial system, indicating its appeal as a target. Phishing schemes, along with large-scale attacks on stock exchanges and commercial sites, frequently concentrate on bank accounts due to their simple accessibility. Additionally, tampering with ATMs is another potential means of attack. Since most monetary systems are internet-connected, isolation via air gaps is not a practicable approach. Consequently, cyber security professionals in the banking sector should be knowledgeable about firewalls and have the ability to train users on recognizing and evading phishing scams.
Industries: The energy sector is especially susceptible to cyber security infringements, as the systems that underpin our economy and society make for an easy target for sabotage. Secondary industries, such as transportation and finance, would also be hard hit if an attack succeeded. Air-gapping local networks is a common method of preserving security, though certain high-value assets, like those impacted by the Stuxnet virus, are still in peril. Given the interdependence of modern economies, cyber security professionals operating in this sector must keep up to date on more than just air-gapping techniques and be prepared for sustained attempts to breach their system.
Transport: The worldwide dissemination of technology has had a significant impact on the transportation industry, making interconnectivity indispensable. This has magnified the dangers of digital attacks, especially in busy locations, like airports and ports. GPS is a critical navigation and coordination system in these areas, which makes them highly susceptible. Even the railway industry is vulnerable in urban locales, especially when cargo is involved. Nevertheless, the gravest risk arises from indirect attacks, as they can paralyze a nation’s transportation, irrespective of the effectiveness of its systems.
Corporate: Corporations and the financial sector have some similarities regarding being the target of an attack, but not all. Instead of trying to obtain money, attackers today are mainly interested in stealing sensitive information from businesses and/or disrupting their operations. Companies usually save users’ confidential information, like financial records, on internal, encrypted servers. This makes them a prime target for financially motivated hackers who use industrial espionage tactics to purloin trade secrets and other exclusive information, such as patents. Additionally, many businesses are susceptible to hacktivism and cyber attacks, which could take the form of defacement or ransomware.
Government: Cyber attacks conducted by foreign entities and hacktivists pose a significant threat to government networks. The consequences of a successful attack differ in severity based on the level of control wielded by the central authority over other sectors. Unfortunately, job opportunities in cyber security related to government networks are not as appealing as those in the private sector, largely due to lower remuneration and the use of outdated equipment. This is mainly due to the expense of upgrading infrastructure to modern standards and the challenge of finding personnel with expertise in both old and new technologies.
Consumer: Cybercrime has heavily impacted the retail and consumer goods industries. Personal devices, like smartphones and laptops, are especially susceptible to being monitored without the owner’s awareness or authorization due to the data they store and the added features embedded in the device, such as cameras, microphones, GPS receivers, and accelerometers. Criminals may also target Nest thermostats and other home automation systems.
Shielding sensitive information online is not a new concept. Shielding methods to safeguard computer systems and networks against attacks have existed since the first computer malfunction, induced by a short circuit in a vacuum tube. With developments in technology, such as the transistor, this is now more of a figure of speech than an actual threat. In 1971, the first computer worm was created to deter piracy and caused significant disruption, but a defense was soon released. Since that time, it has evolved into a continual arms race. Cybersecurity professionals must remain alert to possible threats to perform their jobs well. Some may even have to work in hostile environments; however, cyber security and cybersecurity jobs will remain crucial as long as there are dangers.