Cybersecurity is one of the most sought jobs, and its demand in the market is growing. A lot of this could be attributed to the massive digital revolution and growing frequency of reporting of different cyber-attacks. The recent controversy involving the Pegasus Spyware attack is a case in point highlighting the importance of cyber security. The significance of cybersecurity has increased in recent days. Moreover, the penetration of the Internet for communication and similar services by individuals and companies alike has left us vulnerable to the increasing complexities of security threats, privacy breaches, etc.
‘Cybersecurity’ or the related terms like ‘Computer Security' or ‘Information Security’ broadly deal with the protection of a computer system and all its resources like hardware, software, firmware, electronic data, communication networks, etc. Specialists in this field are constantly analyzing the reasons behind such attacks and exploring a better solution to protect the digital world.
Dense network/web of opportunities
Cyber security has its roots in Cryptography. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, cryptographic solutions were restricted in use for military/government services. During the 1980s, the use of cryptography crossed its boundary by being implemented for telecommunication and financial industries. In the 90s the ubiquitous use of the Internet made the requirement of information security necessary for every individual, every organization, either government or private. Therefore, recently the demand for cybersecurity professionals has increased, but still the supply is far less.
With advancements in technology and the increased complexity of emerging attacks, this comparatively young domain faces tremendous challenges in real life while preventing security-related attacks or proposing strategic plans to implement security solutions. The field needs lots of researchers and security enthusiasts to work together to improve the current state-of-the-art. Now is the time to improve the security culture in every organisation and it is the correct time to think of a career in cybersecurity.
Career paths in Cyber Security can take you to many different places. You could be a Cryptographer who is designing or analysing different security tools, a forensic expert helping in exploring digital artifacts towards solving a crime scene, behaving like an attacker to figure out security flaws in a system ethically, working as a professional helping to enforce software security, etc. Based on the interest one can enhance his/her expertise in one of the existing domains. However, to be trained either as an entry-level security professional or becoming an expert, one needs to follow any of the approaches mentioned below.
Apart from different security-related courses, cybersecurity requires the understanding of computer networks, information theory, communication media, mathematical understanding of the areas like Algebra, Linear Algebra, etc. Students majoring in Computer Science or related areas such as Electronics, Electrical, Mathematics, and Physics can greatly benefit. At an undergraduate level, foundational courses in Information Security, Cryptography, Mathematics for Computer Science, are very important. At the master’s level, different specialization courses mostly termed as ‘Specialization in Information Security, or ‘Cybersecurity’ are available under different universities covering relevant subjects of study.
Those interested in academics or research may opt for higher studies like Ph.D. or Post Doctorate programs in security-related areas and be directly considered as domain experts after the completion of the program. Others interested in pursuing a career in the industry may focus on security-related courses during their undergraduate program and intern at security-related companies. They can also explore some certification courses available online/offline. Few career options based on different skill sets are Cybersecurity Engineer, Information Security Analyst, Chief Information Security Officer, Security Architect, Penetration Tester, Information Security Crime Investigator/Forensics Expert, Ethical Hacker, etc., (interested individuals are requested to explore online resources for specific details).
The demand for cybersecurity professionals is increasing day by day and the challenges imposed by cybercriminals are also increasing at the same pace. As per the security experts, the future of cybersecurity will be highly challenged by social and technological changes. Therefore, it is very likely that future security solutions would incorporate machine learning-based approaches though not completely. A machine can help in a deterministic way, but otherwise, circumstances would always challenge us, and therefore, demand for cybersecurity professionals will be high for the foreseeable future.
Written by Sweta Mishra. The author is Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, Shiv Nadar University.