You may be wondering what skills you need to work in cybersecurity. Generally, there are some skills every cybersecurity person would benefit from having. Otherwise, your role in cybersecurity will determine which hard skills to have.

You may be wondering what skills you need to work in cybersecurity. Generally, there are some skills every cybersecurity person would benefit from having. Otherwise, your role in cybersecurity will determine which hard skills to have. Below, you will find a breakdown of some of these skills.

Between 2010 and 2015, cybersecurity postings went up by 74%. By 2015, cyber-attacks were leading to losses of about $3 trillion. Statistics project that this number will go up to $6 trillion annually by 2021. A report in 2017 predicted that the Cybersecurity industry would have a shortage of 3.5 million workers by 2021. This is according to data by Cybersecurity Ventures.

Companies may have been okay using rudimentary firewalls in the past, but that doesn’t cut it anymore because cybercriminals are much smarter and can easily break through them. Large organizations, particularly those that handle a lot of personal customer information, need to put together a Security Operations Center and an Incidence Response team.

Their IT Security department needs adequate training to be able to handle the challenges they will face. If there are any gaps in an organization’s security needs, they can hire in-house personnel or contract the services of consultants to meet them.

Hard skills

Hard skills are the technical and implementation skills needed to do the job. Cybersecurity is a very specialized field. It would help if you had more than basic knowledge in handling technology. From troubleshooting systems to hacking and creating new software, your career line will require you to know your way around technology.

You won’t be working with computer systems alone. You will also need to work with mobile devices, different operating systems, and cloud, and wireless networks.

Here are some concepts you may need to know the ins and outs of:

  • Know how to perform a security analysis so that you can be able to identify breaches and potential vulnerabilities in your system. Also, learn how to set up a firewall to filter unauthorized access.
  • Understand the structure of operating systems. Also, know how to troubleshoot systems so that you can solve problems in your network.
  • Know how to manage SIEM (security information and event management) tools and services.
  • Know how to program and script in several languages.
  • There are some security guidelines and regulations that any organization needs to follow. They include HIPAA, SOX, and PCI DSS. You should be able to perform an audit of how well they are being followed. Failure to comply may lead to hefty fines for the organization.
  • Cybersecurity personnel must perform application security development. This means that they must be able to find and fix any vulnerabilities in the applications they create and use.
  • They should have a working knowledge of antivirus programs and antimalware. They should be able to identify and prevent malware that is not detected/stopped by regular antivirus and firewalls or other security solutions in place.
  • They should come up with incidence reports. It will outline what constitutes a breach and what each security team member will do in its event.
  • They must understand the software/hardware architecture of the organization.

A degree in any of the following fields can be a good starting point for those who want to work in cybersecurity.


This is an excellent degree for those who wish to venture straight into cybersecurity. Students learn how to identify, evaluate, and defend against attacks and threats to information systems, networks, and data. They may also learn how to design and implement prevention and protection measures. They have a choice to specialize in various concentrations in the field, like analysis or forensics.

Computer science

This is a more general degree. It covers various networks, operating systems, algorithms, and programming languages.

Software engineering

A professional with this degree can create useful and effective software.

Information Assurance

This degree equips students with the know-how to structure, maintain, and protect digital assets.

Those with the last three degrees may benefit from earning supporting certificates in cybersecurity. This will allow them to align their knowledge with the needs in the cybersecurity field.

While a degree in cybersecurity puts you at an advantageous position, you don’t have to have one to work in cybersecurity. In most cases, however, employers will still require some form of certification. It allows them to know your knowledge base. That is how they evaluate which part of their cybersecurity team you can work with. Having experience on top of certification is a bonus.

Here are some relevant certifications you can get and what they will help you to do.

OSCP (Offensive Security Certified Professional)

If you are looking for a job as a penetration tester, this is one course you must do. For those who are just starting in cybersecurity, this is an excellent introductory certificate. The Offensive Security organization issues it. The course work is very rigorous. The goal is to produce students with not only book knowledge but also actual skills.

(OSCE) Offensive Security Certified Expert

This is a good way for a penetration tester to enhance their knowledge from the OSCP. It focuses on exploit development. There are two goals. The first, for students, to identify advanced misconfigurations and vulnerabilities in various operating systems. The second is to execute organized attacks. Passing the course and exam proves that you have mastered advanced penetration testing.

GCIH (GIAC Certified Incident Handler)

GIAC stands for Global Information Assurance Certification. Its goal is to assure that IT professionals have real-world skills. A person with a GCIH certificate can detect, respond to, and resolve computer security incidents. They are equipped with a wide range of security skills to do this.

CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)

A certified ethical hacker is also called a white hat hacker. Their work is to inspect an organization’s network infrastructure with the consent of the owner. They look for security vulnerabilities in the network which a malicious hacker can exploit.

CISA (Certified Information Security Auditor)

This is a certificate issued by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). Professionals with this certificate can monitor, manage, and protect an organization’s IT and business systems. It showcases an IT auditor’s expertise, and skill in assessing vulnerabilities and implementing IT controls in an enterprise environment

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

This certificate showcases a professional’s ability to design, implement, and manage cybersecurity programs effectively. It is an independent information security certification. It is given by ISC² (International Information System Security Certification Consortium), one of the world’s largest IT security organizations. Three concentrations build upon CISSP. They are;

Information Systems Security Management Professional (CISSP-ISSMP)

This certificate validates a professional’s ability to establish, present, and govern information security programs. It shows their ability to lead security teams in various situations.

Information Systems Security Engineering Professional (CISSP-ISSEP)

This certificate was developed with the help of the U.S. National Security Agency. A professional with this certificate can effectively develop secure systems by applying systems engineering principles and processes. Therefore, they can incorporate security into organizations’ projects, business processes, applications, and information systems.

Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSP-ISSAP)

This is good for chief security analysts or architects. This certificate attests to your expertise in developing, designing, and analyzing security solutions.

There is so much to do when it comes to keeping your organization safe from cyber-crimes. One fundamental way an organization can keep its security personnel up to par with industry standards is to employ cyber ranges. They allow your security teams to obtain real-life experience in a virtual environment. Technology is evolving very fast, and those in cybersecurity need to continually read and improve their knowledge base to keep up with the changes.

Soft Skills

Some soft skills enable you to succeed in any career. Some are highly useful in a cybersecurity career. Here are some soft skills you should acquire

Management skills

All the people who work in a cybersecurity team need to be managed so that they work optimally. This role may typically fall on senior security team members. However, there is nothing wrong with learning this skill earlier. Usually, a security team comes up with an incident plan—this plan outlines who does what in response to an incident and what order. Routine day to day activities and assessments also need to be coordinated.

Social psychology skills.

Social psychology involves understanding how people think, relate to one another, and influence each other. You apply social psychology skills in two main scenarios:

To try and understand how the cybercriminals think. By learning social engineering tricks, you can identify malicious activities.

To know how your customers think. This way, you will be able to predict what kind of attacks they may fall for.

Research and writing skills

The cybersecurity field is continually evolving. You will need to document any noteworthy incident properly. You will also need to research new findings in your area and develop write-ups that explain them. You may also need to come up with documents on new policies for enforcement.


In a continually evolving field, a growth mindset beats a fixed mindset. Cybercriminals are getting smarter by the day. Criminals are creating new worms and viruses and finding new ways to breach firewalls. If you think you know and have done enough, you will find that there is more to be done. It would help if you learned to adapt to new changes because your organization’s security depends on it.

A combination of these skills will lead you to thrive in whatever role you pick in cybersecurity. Be sure to work to improve yourself and not become complacent continually. This is the only way to stay on top of the game.


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