January 12, 2023

So This Is Cybersecurity (Updated)

Learn What it Looks Like to Pursue Your Passion in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity isn’t just installing virus protection and monitoring servers.You don’t need to look much further than the news or social media to see real-world examples of cybersecurity in action - and its immense importance in our world. All across the globe, data breaches cause companies, and the individuals impacted, major headaches, liabilities, and costs that make it all the more important to focus on keeping things secure so that a breach doesn’t occur.

Think of it this way: an organization's information is as valuable or more valuable than its real estate! And for this reason, ill-meaning hackers are using individual skills to attack security on a number of fronts. But this unfortunate reality yields opportunity. Depending on your individual skillset, there are unique opportunities to advance into some very interesting cybersecurity jobs that can lead to a fulfilling and long-lasting career. 

Cybersecurity professionals can specialize in pretty much any aspect of information security you can think of. To give you an example of what this could look like, below are five very different, and very interesting cybersecurity jobs. If you are interested in defending against cyberattacks or working in one of these roles, keep reading to learn how to get started on this career path!

#1 First Responder (Incident Responder)

In the field of cyber security, first responders are the valuable individuals who come to the rescue in times of security system trouble. This dynamic and fast-paced role involves identifying, mitigating, and eradicating attackers while their operations are still unfolding. While preventing breaches is always the ultimate goal, smart businesses know they have to expect the worst and be prepared to handle it. Assuming a breach will one day happen, incident responders are trained and prepared to locate the attackers, minimize their ability to damage the victim, and ultimately remove them from the environment. This role requires quick thinking, solid technical and documentation skills, and the ability to adapt to attacker methodologies.

Common Duties

  • Recognize any errors or possible vulnerabilities in the network or system
  • Develop a system of procedures on how to handle an emergency
  • Effectively oversee systems and applications for any suspicious activity
  • Collaborate with other cyber security team members
  • Run penetration tests, risk analysis and security audits
  • Develop a system for the communication trail that needs to take place during an emergency, and how to relay necessary information to law enforcement
  • Provide well-composed incident reports to proper management team members

#2 Cryptographer

You’ve probably heard a thing or two about data encryption in recent years; cryptographers are the experts behind those security-enhancing algorithms. While perhaps not the most common cybersecurity job title, cryptographers play an important role in data security by building and deciphering encryption codes and algorithms. These professionals are often sought after by organizations dealing with highly-sensitive data—think financial institutions, healthcare providers, government agencies, and the military. Their work requires a strong background in mathematics and an understanding of computer science principles.

Common Duties

  • Develop and test mathematical models to analyze data and solve security problems
  • Test models for reliability and accuracy
  • Test new cryptography theories and applications
  • Look for weaknesses in wireless networks, cell phones, emails, etc.
  • Ensure credit cards, inter-bank, ATM, online transactions, etc., are secure
  • Ensure wireless networks are not illegally accessed or altered
  • Decode cryptic messages for military, political and law enforcement agencies
  • Update methods for efficient handling of cryptic processes
  • Advise work staff on cryptical/mathematical methods and applications

#3 Threat Hunter

A professional “Threat Hunter” is responsible for searching networks to detect and isolate advanced threats. So really, it’s like the name sounds! This expert applies new threat intelligence against existing evidence to identify attackers that have slipped through real-time detection mechanisms. The practice of threat hunting requires several skill sets, including threat intelligence, system and network forensics, and investigative development processes. Instead of waiting for potential threats to emerge, the threat-hunting process is centered around searching the organization's environment for anomalies that might indicate vulnerabilities and then implementing proactive threat-hunting to validate assumptions and mitigate risks.

Common Duties

  • Search for vulnerabilities and risk factors in data and systems
  • Stay up to date on the latest innovation in cybersecurity
  • Study trends in cybercrime around threat actors' behaviors, tactics and goals
  • Analyze collected data to find potential anomalies in the security environment
  • Eliminate any risks and vulnerabilities

#4 Red Team, Blue Team

Like it sounds, these professionals simulate roles on different “teams” where they help each other hone in on their skills and become better at facing and anticipating cybersecurity attacks.

Red Team: These professionals participate in real-world cyberattack simulations. In this role, you will be challenged to look at problems and situations from the perspective of an adversary, i.e. attacker. The focus is on making the Blue Team better by testing and measuring the organization’s detection and response policies, procedures, and technologies. This role is important to help answer the common question of “Can that attack that brought down company X, happen to us?” Red Teamers will gain a holistic view of the organization’s preparedness for a real, sophisticated attack by testing the defenders, not just the defenses.

Blue Team: These professionals design defensive measures and harden operating systems. They are often categorized as the all-around defender and primary security contact for a small organization that must deal with engineering and architecture, incident triage and response, security tool administration, and more. This job role is highly important as it often shows up in small to midsize organizations that do not have the budget for a full-fledged security team with dedicated roles for each function.

#5 Media Exploitation Analyst

This expert is a professional cybersecurity sleuth. He or she applies digital forensic skills to a multitude of media that encompasses an investigation. In this position, you will assist in the forensic examinations of computers and media from a variety of sources, in view of developing forensically sound evidence. This role is critical to an organization because it is often the first responder or the first to touch the evidence involved in a criminal act. Common cases involve terrorism, counter-intelligence, law enforcement, and insider threat. 

“This is like solving a puzzle or investigating a crime. There is an exciting element to the unknown and the technical complexity of countermeasures. The sensitivity of content and potential to get real evidence on something is exciting.” - Chris Brown, American singer/ songwriter

Common Duties

  • Develop methodologies, tradecraft, and procedures for conducting identity exploitation 
  • Detect, extract, and combine biographic/digital attribute data for reporting
  • Organize and share findings and data in a meaningful way and with recommendations 
  • Use a hybrid of skills merging digital forensics with intelligence analysis

The Big Takeaway - Getting Started

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other interesting, exciting, and fulfilling jobs in this career field that offer ongoing opportunities for growth and advancement. Some of these involve titles like Deepfake Analyst, Driverless-Car Security Specialist, Implanted-Device Guardian, Anti-Cheat Referee, Chief Identity and Digital Officer. 

If you want to learn more about what it takes to get started in a career in cybersecurity, NuPaths has answers! We offer a comprehensive IT Security Analyst program where you can train in just 26 weeks. And 95% of NuPaths students receive a scholarship. The best way to get started is to use this free tool to see if a career in technology would be right for you. A NuPaths Career counselor can review your results with you and outline the best options to consider.

What are you waiting for? Take the next step by learning more and talking with a student success coordinator today!

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