To wrap up this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we asked a handful of our employees for advice they would give to someone who wanted to start a cybersecurity career. Here’s what they have to say:
Stay on top of trends and keep learning
With new attacks emerging every week, cybersecurity is not a field where you can get your degree and expect to coast through your career. Staying current with threat actor groups and new trends in cyber is a crucial part of the job.
Ryan, a Senior Security Engineer, suggests to “Follow the experts. Look at what the best people and businesses in the industry are doing and replicate that. Read their books and blogs, watch their conference talks, and stay up to date with the latest news and trends on Twitter. To me that is the best way to learn and gain an advantage in your career.” Ryan adds that he enjoys the ever-changing nature of cybersecurity because there is always something new to dive into and learn.
Blake, a SOC Analyst, has a passion for technology and people, and felt that cybersecurity was a great blend of both. He acknowledged that it can be a hard field to break into for some, but to “Find the domain of cybersecurity that interests you the most. Then study and practice that more than you think you should. Most importantly, have fun while you learn. Build a home lab, or work on projects that bring you joy that way you never burn out while learning and growing,” he said.
If you aren’t sure which area of cybersecurity most interests you, MDR Support Engineer Alex advises to “start with the basics. Learn a little bit about all facets of IT. The more general knowledge you have, the easier it is to spot when something abnormal is occurring.” Alex enjoys helping people and learning new things, as well as getting to help customers and teach them how to use our solutions to protect their businesses.
Jake, Counterintelligence Lead, entered the field because he enjoyed the challenge of identifying new threats. Helping to stop attacks and assisting clients after a breach gives him a sense of accomplishment. He advises those starting a cybersecurity career to “retain as much knowledge as you can and constantly stay on top of the new trends and attacks happening. Knowing the types of attacks that have happened previously and how they were carried out can help you to identify and mitigate new types of attacks.”
Communication skills are important for infosec careers
Kim, a team lead for our Threat Hunting team, decided on a cybersecurity career when she observed the infosec team remediating a cybersecurity issue they had discovered. The process of solving the problem appealed to her. However, she says, “while technical skills are important in this field, so are communication skills. While technical skills are important in this field, so are communication skills. A large part of a career in security is communicating thoughts and ideas, presenting findings, identifying risk, and selling new controls and solutions. How these are presented could be the tipping point of whether a new control or detection gets implemented or whether it doesn’t.”
Make connections in the field and ask for help
“Make connections to others and find ways to keep learning,” says SOC Analyst Aaron. “Of the people I meet, those who want to keep learning and growing are the most successful.” Prior to his cybersecurity career, Aaron had been involved in Peace and Conflict studies and wanted to contribute to the resolution of conflicts within communities. He saw the tie-in with cybersecurity in being able to mitigate threats like ransomware attacks that disrupt people’s lives.
“Be humble, but never be afraid to ask questions,” is advice from Andrew, also a SOC analyst. Andrew enjoys the variety and growth opportunities to meet challenges. He cites a love of technology and “the opportunity to help thwart chaos” as his reasons for deciding on a career in cybersecurity.
Threat researcher Ian echoes these sentiments: “I think collaboration and networking is key to success,” he says. “This community in general is very oriented around sharing knowledge and lifting each other up. It is also important to persevere. This work is difficult and everyone no matter how veteran or noteworthy struggles from time to time. It is perfectly okay to reach out for help and it does not mean you are not good enough.” Ian served in the military and drew upon his experience during his service to kickstart his cybersecurity career. He takes pride in protecting people’s businesses and intellectual property from threat actors.
Take initiative to forge your cybersecurity career path
The best way to break into a cybersecurity career is just to go for it. Tech Lead Charles notes that “situational awareness is the key in an ever-changing threat landscape. The same goes for building a career in cybersecurity. There are new opportunities opening up every day. But if you do not pay attention, someone else will take the initiative before you do.” Charles was interested in an infosec career once he observed the way the internet transformed the way we brokered information—from searching through filing cabinets for a patient record to having that information instantaneously.
Jigyasa, a Quality Assurance Architect, enjoys learning new technologies and jumped at the opportunity to complete an MS in Cybersecurity. She had to overcome some obstacles to begin a cybersecurity career, including having a non-technical background and being a single mom. However, she said, “I kept on moving forward … I did not expect anything from anyone but I kept on learning, kept on trying and overcoming the weaknesses that I identified in the process.” She adds to “NEVER let go of your passion … hold on to that dream and make it happen.”