A Beginner’s Guide to Developing Cyber Expertise
We aren’t safe anywhere, especially in the online world!
3100 servers were attacked, US$50 million ransom in bitcoin demanded
The above sentence coincides with the highlights of the biggest cyberattack in recent history. On a Monday morning in November 2021, MediaMarkt employees in 1000+ stores across Europe began their routine work. The network administrators logged on to their systems only to find that it was “impossible” to access data. To make matters worse, retail store computers could not be used any longer. It was later found that a cryptovirus infected several Windows servers. The operations of one of the largest retailers of consumer electronic goods were brought to a standstill in no time. This incident accurately describes the extent of damage a cyberattack can cause.
While the world battled Covid-19, hackers seized the opportunity and cybercrimes rose exponentially. This highlights the need for cyber security and the development of cyber expertise.
In this blog, we answer a few questions related to cybersecurity expertise:
What are the different areas of cybersecurity expertise?
The term “cybersecurity” refers to using technologies, controls, and processes for protection of systems, devices, data, programs, and networks from cyberattacks. To protect against unauthorised access by intruders, cyber experts perform security audits across system hardware and software.
Based on the digital infrastructure that needs security, there are five main areas of cyber expertise:
- Security of critical infrastructure: This ensures the protection of the digital infrastructure of systems and services essential for our society and economy. In other words, it implies protection of our public systems like communication grids, hospitals, and transportation systems.
- Application security: At present, we use an app for everything from ordering food to paying bills online. Application security involves building safety measures like encryption, anti-virus systems and firewalls to protect data and application codes.
- Network security: An area of cyber expertise focused on preserving the integrity, accessibility, and confidentiality of computer networks. The antivirus software installed on our laptops is the best example of network security.
- Cloud security: A complete stack of protocols, best practices, and technology utilised for protection of our applications, data, and general cloud environment.
- Internet of Things (IoT) security: Security of the devices connected with the Internet. For example, the security cameras installed at someone’s residence or the tracking device put in a pet dog’s collar.
Why are cybersecurity skills in demand?
As per the findings of Markets and Markets, the size of the global cybersecurity market is expected to grow to US$266.2 billion by 2027 at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.9% from 2022 to 2027. Some factors driving the cyber security market growth include an increment in target-based cyberattacks that causes operational disruptions, Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture (CSMA) approaches becoming more popular, and the rising demand for cyber-savvy boards. Unprecedented technological advancement has led to an increase in the risk of cyber attacks. Due to an increase in the frequency and severity of cyber-attacks, it is imperative to mitigate the skill gap in this field. Moreover, businesses must try to stay a step ahead of cybercriminals.
How are new technologies like IoT going to change the need for cyber expertise?
As per Statista, 30.9 billion active devices are projected to be connected by 2025. The large volume of IoT devices compels cybersecurity experts to focus on their security. For users of IoT devices, it implies following some basic security practices like blocking unwanted remote access or changing default security passwords. For example, a device can be switched off when not required.
IoT device manufacturers can also take the following steps for the security of IoT devices:
- Sending proactive notifications to users about outdated OS/software versions.
- Effective password management. For example, making it mandatory to change the default password on newly installed devices.
- Deactivating remote access of a device unless needed for core functioning.
- Access control policy for application program interfaces (APIs).
What are the new emerging practices in cyber expertise?
As per Cisco’s report, 73% of Indian organisations experienced a jump of 25% or more in cyber threats since the beginning of Covid-19 in March 2020. Covid-19 accelerated the adoption of several cybersecurity practices. Organizations are now adopting a “proactive” approach and seeking out new ways to strengthen data security against increasing cyberattacks. Below are a few practices being adopted by organisations to safeguard themselves against cyber threats:
Enterprises have started to add an extra layer of protection for data security with multi-factor authentication (MFA). Users need multiple devices to confirm their identities. For example, a user accessing his official email on the phone enters his username and password. Simultaneously, he receives an SMS with a code and a notification on the authenticator app to enter the code to log in.
The amount of data continues to multiply by the day. Therefore, automation provides more control over information. Moreover, the need for more quick and competent solutions has made automation more useful than ever before. The incorporation of security measures during the agile process helps in building more secure software. Organizations have begun considering the implementation of automation tools for real-time collection and analysis of data as well as incident response time acceleration. An increase in data quantities has made hyper-automation imperative for organizations.
Prioritise Increase in the cybersecurity workforce
Around 56% of companies reported a shortfall of cybersecurity personnel in 2020. The shortage continues at present. Organisations should increase their cybersecurity workforce to secure themselves in a digital world.
A threat cannot be prevented unless it is identified. Educating employees on techniques for the identification of possible threats and developing a culture where cybersecurity awareness is considered a responsibility is important.
What are the skills needed for cyber security expertise?
The demand for cyber security professionals continues to increase with time. To excel as a cyber security professional, one needs to have the following essential traits/attributes:
- Basic technical knowledge
- Logical thinking and troubleshooting
- Verbal & written communication skills
- Curiosity to learn new technology
- Ability to work independently
Candidates looking to kickstart a career as a cyber security expert should possess the following skills to start with:
Networking and systems
Learning networking helps an individual understand the technical aspects of data transmission. An aspirant can enrol for networking certifications like Cisco CCNA and CompTIA Security+. System administration is another skill to master. In the end, it’s all about the configuration and maintenance of computers.
Knowledge of virtual machines and operating systems
A cybersecurity expert must be hands-on with different operating systems. Knowledge of operating environments like Mac OS, Linux, and Windows is essential. One must also be comfortable working with virtual machines (VMs).
Network security control
This simply means the measures deployed for the enhancement of a network’s security. To ensure a network’s security, one must understand the workings of a network, firewalls, routers, and other devices. As a cybersecurity expert, it is necessary to leverage firewalls for the prevention and filtering of any unauthorised traffic in the network. Knowledge of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) are additional must-haves.
Businesses are moving to cloud infrastructure for data storage and application management. Therefore, the demand for cyber security professionals capable of safeguarding digital data has reached its peak.
What are the best practices in cyber security?
Any organisation can fall prey to cyber-attacks. In recent times, remote working and an increase in digital activities have encouraged attackers to find new ways of reaching sensitive data.
There are a few best practices that an organization can rely on for the prevention of cyber attacks:
An enterprise should just educate all its employees on the latest security protocols. They should also understand the need for and significance of cyber security.
Limit access to critical assets.
In a world of dynamic security protocols, the timely review of access management policies is crucial for the protection of critical assets. Do not provide access to critical assets to anyone unless it is really needed. Ensure that such assets cannot be accessed through remote devices.
Protection of sensitive data
Take a backup of all sensitive data regularly. Monitor all the activities associated with critical resources. Carefully watch the actions of privileged users. These measures can help you mitigate the risks related to data theft or compromise.
Stringent cybersecurity policies and guarded networks
Streamline technology infrastructure; ensure that a hierarchical cybersecurity policy is in place for the protection of corporate networks with IoT security.
Utilize biometric security and multi-factor authentication (MFA) for password protection. Make sure that users have sought permission from the relevant authorities before accessing critical assets.
What is the roadmap to building expertise in cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a field that provides an opportunity for people with diverse backgrounds and interests to pursue a fulfilling career. However, it is important to understand the right track that helps people become cybersecurity experts.
Any basic qualification like a graduation or any degree equivalent to graduation is the building block to begin a career as a cyber security expert.
Start with the basics
Start learning the basics of cybersecurity. Begin with understanding concepts such as working knowledge of the Internet, security policies, kinds of threats, hacking tools, and network terminology.
Learn a few security tools and begin to practice. However, before practising, remember to get as much knowledge as possible with security measures and firewalls in place.
Keep an eye on certifications
Look out for certifications to help yourself stay abreast with the latest in the field of cybersecurity.
Talk to other aspiring professionals
It is said, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Try talking to like-minded professionals to enhance your knowledge. Often, such conversations are both educational and interesting!
Practice to become perfect
It is important to update cyber security skills regularly and gain knowledge in the process.
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