9 Steps to Land a Cyber Security Job, According to Experts | Top Universities

9 Steps to Land a Cyber Security Job, According to Experts

By Laura Bridgestock

Updated March 2, 2021 Updated March 2, 2021

Sponsored by the Cyber Security Center at the University of Warwick

Cyber security has always been a thrilling and technologically advanced field to work in, but there’s no doubt it got a boost in popularity with the debut of the popular TV series Mr. Robot, and its lead character Elliot Alderson.

Whatever your reasons for being interested in working in cyber security, you’ve probably found your career counselor’s knowledge of cyber security leaves something to be desired.

Fortunately, the cyber-specialists running the University of Warwick’s Cyber Security programs: MSc Cyber Security Engineering and MSc Cyber Security and Management, can help. Here’s everything they reckon you need to know in order to be well-armed when you join the cyber security battle.

1. Read cyber security stories online

To break into cyber security, you need to stay on top of trends happening in the tech sector. Sign up to Slashdot’s weekly newsletter for a concise digest of news about devices, cyber security policy, and brand and consumer trends. (Also follow Slashdot on Twitter, Facebook and Google+).

Complement your reading material with stories from The Register, a really helpful resource of news about emergent tech, data, security, business and science. If you like, you can also follow the publication on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for live updates.

2. Practice your skills on capture the flag (CTF) games

There are many capture the flag games available online to help students practice their cyber security skills including cryptography, computer forensics (the analysis and recovery of data) and hacking. Among them, PicoCTF involves using reverse engineering, hacking, decryption and other skills to resolve the mystery behind the sudden disappearance of your character’s father.

3. Experiment with a second computer

To work in cyber security, you need to teach yourself the basics, and these days you can learn most things online. So, here are a few things you could play around with at home if you had a second computer.

Firstly, install Linux, BSD, Qubes OS and other operating systems on it.

Then, plug it to an Arduino board (i.e. an electronics platform that can read input like a light or touch sensor or your social media messages), and turn it into an output (publishing something on Twitter, switching on an LED or whatever).

Don’t forget. Install security and (with permission) monitor the networks that you connect to.

4. Learn how to program!

This is a pretty major one. To work in cyber security, you need to know how to program in languages such as Python, C or Assembler… But happily, the web is teeming with free resources specifically designed to help aspiring programmers. Check out Code Academy, a freemium interactive learning tool that covers a broad range of modules – from HTML and CSS to JavaScript and PHP. So, get coding! Or check out these 27 online resources to learn how to code.

5. Talk to as many cyber security professionals as you can

Attend networking events and cyber clubs aimed at young people and professionals looking to break into the industry. Does your country run any schemes designed to nurture talent in cyber security? What about schools and clubs? For those of you living in the UK, the National Cyber Security Center’s ‘New Talent’ web page is worth a read.

6. Don’t underestimate the importance of ethics and integrity

Working in cyber security, you need to be behaving responsibility and with integrity at all times – an especially fraught task given the nature of the work. So, think about the content you publish on your social media accounts and be especially wary of posting insensitive material which could come back to haunt you later in life. You need to be able to demonstrate you’re trustworthy.

7. Research other disciplines

Cyber security is not just a technical discipline. Knowing about psychology, economics, persuasive language and data science will make you a far more effective cyber security professional.

8. Read these books

The American mathematician and philosopher, Norbert Wiener, who taught Math at MIT and was also a famous child prodigy, defined cybernetics as “the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine”. To work in cyber security, you need to be familiar with the concepts within cybernetics, particularly applied to the control of devices and the analysis of information.

Start by reading:

And also:

  • The Cuckoo’s Egg: Tracking a Spy through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll.

9. Go to grad school

The University of Warwick’s Masters’ programs in Cyber Security combine research-led teaching with real-world input, at one of the world’s top universities.  These courses train students for careers in cyber security and are provisionally certified by GCHQ (National Cyber Security Centre).  By studying an MSc, you’ll get a clear understanding of the cyber threat landscape.  You’ll gain the skills to build and manage secure systems, and will be equipped to apply these strategically within an organization.  Graduating with a Masters in Cyber Security from Warwick will be a surefire way to kick-start your career!

This article was originally published in March 2017 . It was last updated in March 2021

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