A job in IT security is no walk in the park! This is a very technical role that can often require you to be calm under pressure and to react quickly to security issues. As such, it’s certainly not a role for the fainthearted and those in the industry must ensure they have all the right skills and qualifications to succeed.
This means employers can be pretty particular when hiring for their IT security team. After all, the security of their websites, databases and devices is of the utmost importance, especially with all those pesky hackers and cybercriminals out there. Not to mention that GDPR guidelines require stringent security systems and measures to be in place and quick incident response plans – otherwise the business could be faced with hefty fines.
For this reason, if you’re considering a job in IT security, there are a number of skills you need to make sure you possess before you begin applying to roles. Of course, you might not always be expected to tick every box, but there are several soft and hard skills you will be required to have as standard. So if you’re looking to get into the industry, here are 15 of the top skills you’ll need for a job in IT security.
The hard skills
In some industries, you’ll be able to get by on your transferable skills alone, but the IT industry is not one of them. Technical skills are vital for being able to protect devices, systems, databases and networks from cybercriminals. This is why IT security professionals are some of the most sought-after professionals in the world right now. With this in mind, these are some of the most important soft skills you must possess:
- Knowledge of hardware, software and networks – An understanding of the most popular hardware, software and networks is key, even if this is a very basic understanding that you can work on as you come across new systems you haven’t used before.
- Deep understanding of security systems – Similarly, you’re going to need a good grasp on the most useful and common security systems. For example, you need to understand how to use firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware softwares.
- Incident response and handling – IT security professionals must be able to handle security incidents and any potential threats as quickly and effectively as possible.
- Security audit and compliance – One of the key roles of an IT security professional is being able to conduct audits to ensure that the company’s security systems are up to scratch and as strong as they can be. They must also have good knowledge of security compliance to ensure the business is ticking all the right boxes and won’t end up facing fines or penalties under GDPR guidelines.
- SIEM management – Security information and event management (SIEM) is also a key part of an IT practitioners roles, therefore knowledge of SIEM tools and services is important. Not only this, but you must have the ability to create automation with SIEM and to translate this into an incident response plan.
- Intrusion detection – For effective security, professionals must be able to operate the IDS, identify suspicious traffic on the network and look out for any violations of company security policies.
- Being up to date on cybersecurity trends – IT security professionals must stay up to date with how hackers work, any new trends or scams and the latest fixes for combatting these security issues.
- Digital forensics – One of the most interesting but also important parts of security is digital forensics. IT security professionals must understand the most helpful forensic tools and methods and then be able to use these to spot any threats, anomalies or malicious activity from criminals targeting the business.
- Mobile device management – Nowadays, smartphones and devices are an integral part of the way we work. As such, being able to secure, delay and protect these devices has become a big part of IT security. Professionals must be able to implement the best possible security strategies for these devices, especially when people are using these outside the office and to work remotely.
- Data management protection – Data protection is arguably one of the most important aspects of a security professional’s role, especially since GDPR came into effect in 2018. A security practitioner must know how to handle, analyse, protect and safely secure all types of data.
The soft skills
While technical skills are so important, there are also a number of soft skills that IT security professionals must possess in order to be successful in their role. Below, we’ll look at some of the most important transferable skills for security professionals:
- Problem-solving – IT security is vital and in the event of a data breach, malicious attack or even the threat of a hacking, security professionals must be able to solve the problem as quickly, calmly and effectively as possible.
- Collaboration – Cybersecurity is not confined to the IT department, it is something that all employees must be aware of. As such, collaboration across departments and teams is going to be important and IT professionals must be able to work effectively with others.
- Communication – Communication is so important in most roles, but IT security workers must be able to quickly communicate any issues to management, as well as taking responsibility for reporting any data breaches as per the GDPR guidelines. They must also be able to effectively guide other employees on how to fix or handle security issues if they’re not on hand to help right away.
- Adaptability – Adaptability is an important skill for a number of reasons. Technology, software and systems are always changing and evolving and IT professionals need to be able to keep up. They must also be able to quickly adapt and learn about any new scams or techniques cybercriminals are using, so they can best protect the business.
- Attention to detail – Being able to spot, respond too and fix security issues, no matter how small requires great attention to detail and in many cases IT professionals can’t afford to get it wrong! Otherwise, they could face an even bigger problem down the line.
So if you’re hoping to get a job in the IT security sector, these are some of the tops skills you need to possess and be shouting about on your CV.