11 Dec 2020 15:28 IST

Specialising in cyber security can make for a recession-proof career

The Data Security Council of India predicts that the Indian cyber security market will grow to $7.6 billion by 2022

Cyber security is the next booming domain and offers immense growth opportunities to everyone. The increasing dependency on technologies and digital services has also increased the vulnerability towards new cyber threats.

The cyber security space has seen exponential growth as workforce management and business models have undergone a drastic shift during the Covid-19 pandemic. This has caused protection providers to become financial investors’ main point of focus. A report by the Data Security Council of India (DSCI) predicts that the Indian cyber security market will grow to $7.6 billion by 2022.

Cyber attacks have increased during the pandemic. GoDaddy, the world’s largest web domain registrar, experienced a breach that saw a hacker gain login data information for the hosting accounts of 28,000 consumers. On April 23, 2020, the organisation recognised suspicious action on a subset of servers and immediately began an investigation. The investigation found that unauthorised access to customers’ login credentials was used to connect to the secure shell (SSH) on its hosting account. The company reset the usernames and passwords of the targeted customers and removed the SSH file from its platform to resolve the attack.

As data breaches increase, the demand and salary for cyber security experts are also going up. With ransomware, malicious hacks and threats getting more regular, a company’s need to focus on protection has grown. There are 6,000+ job openings for Cyber Security professionals on portals like LinkedIn and Naukri.com combined.

While the domain’s growth is exciting in itself, the jobs in this field are likewise rewarding. The average annual salary of a cyber security specialist with 2-4 years of experience is in the ₹5-8 lakh range. With 5+ years of industry experience, a professional in this domain can earn ₹10-14 lakh per annum.

Many sectors have faced recession because of Covid but the cyber security space has emerged more resilient and robust. With people working from home, organisations’ data has become more vulnerable to cyber threats and companies are more focused on security protocols, thus boosting demand for professionals in this space, and holding out the promise of a recession-proof career.

So, how to build a career in this ever-growing domain? For starters, you could choose to upskill with the help of available resources, like an online certification program in Offensive Technologies or Defensive Technologies. Anyone with a Bachelor’s degree in IT or related field is eligible to enrol in these courses.

Offensive Security and Defensive Security are the two most important pillars of cyber security and organisations arm themselves with professionals proficient in these skill sets.

Defensive and offensive

Defensive technologies use traditional methods of protection. Experts perform an analysis of organisational network systems to identify security flaws and ensure that all security measures are effective. Such experts are also called Blue Team Specialists.

Offensive technologies, on the other hand, take a proactive approach. Offensive security experts, also known as Red Team Specialists, use ethical hacking techniques like penetration testing to find vulnerabilities in networks and systems.

Lucrative career opportunities

Professionals proficient in cyber security skills have growth opportunities in different industries like IT/ITES, Banking & Finance, Retail and Media, to name a few. After learning relevant skills (offensive or defensive), learners can build their careers in various industries, such as:

SOC analyst

An SOC Analyst works as part of a team that monitors and fights threats posed to a company’s IT network systems and builds measures for weaknesses and possible improvements. Network Defence, Ethical Hacking, and Incident Response are among skills needed to become an SOC Analyst.

Security analyst

Security Analysts mostly work in industries like IT, consulting firms, or banking and financial corporations. They are responsible for planning and carrying out security measures to protect a company’s network and systems. Networking, Incident Response and Handling are a few of the skills you require to become a Security Analyst.

Intrusion detection analyst

The responsibility of the Intrusion Detection Analyst is to analyse and detect gaps in the networks. Vulnerability assessments, incident response, and determining malicious traffic are among skills in great demand.

Network security administrator

These professionals are responsible for planning security infrastructure and continuously controlling networks to look out for suspicious activities. Understanding router and firewall configurations is a basic skill required, Being proficient in configuring and implementing security programs is also recommended.

Penetration tester

Penetration testers help companies find and resolve security vulnerabilities. They are also called ethical hackers. In-depth knowledge about vulnerabilities, coding, complete control over operating systems like Windows, Linux, etc., are among the must-have skills.

Apart from the above-mentioned positions, aspirants can try their hands at exciting and adventurous job roles like Vulnerability Assessment Specialist, Digital Forensic Analyst, Incident Responder, SOAR Developer, Cybercrime Investigator, to name but a few, with a fine salary package.

Many professionals have switched lanes and built a successful and recession-proof career in Cyber Security.

Rama Chandra, a Certified Cyber Crime Intervention Officer (CCIO), shares his thoughts: “I have 18 years of IT experience. I started my career as a C and Unix programmer. I thoroughly enjoyed programming and the work was most satisfying initially. I reached the Project Manager position, where I was stuck for years. I didn’t find any passion for work. I attended the CYPHER conference, listened to talks by HackerU and Jigsaw Academy folks about the Cyber Security career path. I thought that was the call for me," he says.

If you wish to become an expert Cyber Security professional, but are unsure which specialisation (Offensive or Defensive) would best suit you, check out Jigsaw Academy’s website. It will surely help you build a promising and recession-resilient career.

(The writer is COO & Co-founder, Jigsaw Academy)