Guest Editor: A Passion for Cybersecurity

“Cybersecurity is one of those careers that engenders real job satisfaction and passion amongst those working in the industry”

I believe that cybersecurity is one of those careers that engenders real job satisfaction and passion amongst those working in the industry. However, have you ever stopped to ask yourself what it is that makes you passionate? Why do you work in this industry? What is important or rewarding to you?

Over the past few years, for me this has been about the chance to bring others into an industry that desperately needs new people, an industry that makes a critical difference in our ever more digital world. We might not be on the frontline in A&E saving lives or out policing the streets, but in cybersecurity we’re providing a vital support service for the vast number of businesses, individuals and organizations that cyber-criminals target. From the energy sector and utilities to small businesses, cybersecurity is a supporting pillar of the modern world.

Consider the challenge ahead of us though. We have a shortage of practitioners, a developing skills gap, more and more use of technology everywhere around us and all of this is evolving at speed. How do we share that passion and interest with young adults to help build the next generation of security practitioners? There are many smart people out there who have never considered cybersecurity as a career path and we need to ensure its firmly on the radar for people making career choices.

I am passionate about skills development, which is one of the main reasons why I and the SANS Institute began developing the CyberStart Game, and subsequently why we were so hugely excited to partner with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to deliver it to 14-18 year-olds as part of the Cyber Discovery program. I remember sitting down in a café four and a half years ago and starting to write some of the first lines of code of CyberStart. We knew that gamification and interactive labs could be a powerful tool to show young adults the interesting challenges and problems we encounter in our industry. We wanted to let them connect with our passion for this important work.

As part of the activity around Cyber Discovery, I put together a top 10 list of reasons why cybersecurity is a great career. I thought it would be interesting to share here and would love to hear from you about how and why you got involved in cybersecurity.

  1. It’s an interesting, ever-changing space. Jobs which continually challenge you are arguably the most interesting, and there’s no ‘average’ day in cybersecurity. There are also some really cool shared moments that security professionals experience – like the first time you find and fix a flaw to prevent a cyber-criminal from attacking.
  2. You get to help people every day. Whether it’s thwarting malware to stop it from attacking friends and family online, or unpicking exploits to prevent future breaches, you’re making technology safer for everyone. A job in cybersecurity pays the bills, but it also makes a difference to the world.
  3. You’re learning transferable skills. Problem-solving, logic, being able to identify creative solutions to bleeding edge problems – these are phenomenal skills that will help you further your career. Even more so, in cybersecurity, you get to compete with a challenging adversary every day. Cyber-criminals are creative and fast to deploy new tactics – it’s your job to stay one step ahead and find new ways of stopping them, before they gain the upper hand.
  4. Cybersecurity skills are in demand. If you decide to pursue a career in cybersecurity, you’ll gain a variety of new, sought-after skills – from coding, to cryptography, to programming and forensics. Salaries associated with the profession make cybersecurity very interesting and rewarding for those prepared to put in the work in order to excel. 
  5. You never stop learning! New technologies, new programming languages and new devices unfortunately bring new vulnerabilities ready to be exploited by hackers. As a cybersecurity professional, you’ll be tasked with looking for the latest attack and identifying how to thwart it, which means there is always a new language, tool or concept to digest.
  6. Cybersecurity will take you into new realms – quite literally! A career in cybersecurity isn’t just about dealing with breaches when they happen, and trying to stem the bleeding. It’s also about building security into new technologies before they are used by the masses. Imagine working alongside a team putting a new spacecraft together, and figuring out how cyber-attacks might work in space, or securing the latest, life-saving medical devices. These initiatives need security, and robust security requires motivated and curious people.
  7. A diverse workplace. Cybersecurity is becoming a more diverse place to work, with people from a wide variety of backgrounds pulling their skills and experiences together to solve challenging issues. Across the world, countries are trying to develop their cybersecurity workforce, making you part of a huge global network of people trying to make our planet more secure.
  8. A multi-disciplined career. Cybersecurity is not a single role, despite common preconceptions. There are a huge number of different disciplines, enabling you to pivot throughout your career to new technical, advisory or managerial disciplines. There are great progression opportunities and diverse roles for you to experiment with as you grow.
  9. A career that lasts. Technology use is only increasing in our modern world, and even with the drive to build more secure technology, the number of incidents and opportunities for attackers is increasing notably too. That means you will have a job for a very long time, helping to secure all of the new technology that is being built around us.
  10. Be a champion for the public. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or another well-known website, every other week you see a new data breach in the news, damaging huge numbers of internet users. Our data is hugely valuable to criminals and separating our physical and digital lives is growing harder day by day. By pursuing a career in cybersecurity, you get to work in a field which helps thwart this damage, makes technology more trustworthy and changes the shape of our future technology landscape.

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