Cyber-attacks are on the rise. In Australia alone, organisations have reached a breakpoint, with the average cost of a data breach now up to $1.9 million. While skyrocketing cyber breaches are bad news for business, it’s good news if you’re planning to study cyber security.
With a burgeoning job market, now is the right time to invest in cyber security education and training. Postgraduate study will help you lay the foundations for a promising career in cyber security. Here are five roles you can pursue after graduating.
Often referred to as ethical hackers, penetration testers crack into IT systems and simulate a real attack scenario. Having the ability to think like the enemy, their main job is to assess the weak points across organisational networks and devices. They look for system vulnerabilities to help organisations avoid threats and potential disruptions – or full-scale disaster when it comes to malicious cyber-attacks. With the types of attacks relentlessly evolving, penetration testers don’t just focus on problems, they also look at preventative measures such as alternative coding processes. Continually learning about the movements of hackers, their role is to stay one step ahead of the real hacking game.
The role of a penetration tester is not all technical – your soft skills will also be in high demand. Penetration testers are required to research, evaluate and document their findings. Part of their role is to create reports and recommendations from these conclusions, which they are then required to present to the IT team and management.
Businesses and government departments rely on penetration testers to ensure that their profitability and/or reputation won’t be undermined by unforeseen circumstances such as a data breach. According to IT Governance UK, data breaches are more damaging than many natural disasters. This makes the role of a penetration tester crucial and it’s why financing penetration testing is a sound decision for the bottom-line. For instance, a thorough penetration test could have saved US credit agency Equifax from a massive data breach that affected 143 million consumers – and the ensuing public relations disaster that left the company with egg all over its face.
Cyber security specialist
This is a role that entails network security, vulnerability assessments and intrusion detection. The core responsibility of a cyber security specialist is to plan, coordinate and implement security programs – that means deciding who gets access to what information. To regulate this information gateway, cyber security specialists will typically design firewalls that are built into network infrastructures, establish file access permissions and manage user access of company information. As part of this remit, they’ll also establish and apply security policies and procedures.
Threats such as viruses, malware and hacking have become security headaches for every organisation. Cyber security specialists play a key role in analysing breaches and detecting intrusions through regular security audits. They also look for risks in hardware and software and implement procedures to secure the IT infrastructure of an organisation.
Cyber security specialists are required to have a range of soft skills and hard skills which include knowledge of SIEM (security information and event management) and being familiar fluent in programming languages like PHP, Java, C++, C# or C.
Cyber security analyst
Cyber security analysts, otherwise known as information security analysts, find creative ways to protect organisations from cyber risks, by identifying and addressing system flaws. They’re often the first line of defence when it comes to safeguarding computer systems and networks. Their core duty is to analyse risk, anticipate where risk will come from and take appropriate measures to avoid breaches. Unlike a cyber-crime investigator, cyber security analysts don’t get called in after an attack. Their job is to constantly monitor and audit systems for unusual activities, intrusions and illegal activity.
Cyber security analysts also play a broader role in terms of creating cyber security awareness and best practice across teams. They’re responsible for giving out advice on issues such as spam and unwanted malicious emails, as well as providing recommendations on how to avoid future exposure. They may even simulate security attacks to unearth possible threats and vulnerabilities. It’s the job of a cyber security analyst to keep up-to-date with the latest technology. It’s also their responsibility to be informed about the new weapons hackers are using to slip in the back door of unsuspecting organisations. Their goal is to prevent sensitive information or confidential data getting into the wrong hands – as in the case of the Under Armour data breach which revealed the details of 150 million accounts on its food and nutrition app, MyFitnessPal.
IT auditors collect and evaluate information about an organisation’s systems, practices and operations to ensure that they are compliant with the latest IT standards and regulations. They audit an organisations capability to innovate. This involves looking at aspects such as the management of IT and enterprise architecture, databases, encryption, and the use of controls for client-connected servers and networks. IT auditors determine whether an organisation’s standards are outmoded, and check that the relevant IT controls are in place to keep data and records secure.
Following an audit, IT auditors will create an internal audit report which will outline the potential problems an organisation may have with efficiency, risk management and compliance. IT auditors will use the findings from their report to communicate with stakeholders and recommend an action plan to address points of organisational weakness.
Cyber security engineer
Cyber security engineers develop, design, test and deploy security-related systems. With networks exposed to nasties like spyware, adware, and phishing, the role of cyber security engineers is to provide secure network solutions. Acting like a caped crusader, cyber security engineers guard against hackers trying to infiltrate an organisation’s digital files and infrastructure.
Part of a cyber security engineer’s responsibilities involves managing and tracking incidents, installing products and software to prevent intrusions, investigating breaches, and introducing strategies and practices to resolve security matters. Cyber security engineers work closely with other IT professional and vendors to create security protocols that will protect the system by detecting and neutralising threats.
Find out more about how to become an expert by studying a Master of Cyber Security.