What is a Cyber Security Specialist?

A cyber security specialist helps to protect the public and organizations from scammers, hackers and other online criminals. The increasing number of cyber crimes means government agencies and businesses worldwide face constant threats to their trade and military secrets, consumer data and financial information. Cyber security specialists work with these organizations to ensure their computer information systems remain secure. They determine who needs access to which information, and they plan, implement and coordinate information security programs. Using a multi-layered approach, cyber security specialists use their up-to-date knowledge and specialized expertise to help protect against online threats that facilitate cyber crime, including hacking, information warfare, denial-of-service attacks, viruses, phishing and malware.

The Importance of the Cyber Security Specialist

Cyber criminals target military organizations, government agencies, businesses of all sizes and financial institutions worldwide. They can significantly damage these companies through theft of sensitive customer data, financial theft, data mining, network viruses, intellectual property theft and interruption of service. Cyber security specialists identify and fix these complicated issues to ensure information remains secure, thus allowing companies to continue business as normal.

Using their knowledge of reverse engineering, forensics and analysis, cyber security specialists can help to keep cyber crime at bay, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They monitor and diagnose vulnerability issues and malware events before making recommendations for solutions, including software and hardware programs that can help control risk. Cyber security specialists may also regulate access to protect the network and safeguard information, monitor the use of data files and design firewalls. Protecting networks from viruses and staying up-to-date on current virus reports are major aspects of a cyber security specialist’s job duties. They also often develop procedures and policies, promote security awareness, provide reports and updates to executive staff and management and train users on the correct way to use the company’s networking system.

Cyber Security Specialist Jobs and Education

Aspiring cyber security specialists may seek employment in both the private and public sectors. Potential employers may include cyber security consulting firms, financial institutions, professional services firms, the armed forces, IT services companies, military contractors and government agencies. Success in the field requires a combination of business acumen and management expertise, including dependability, integrity, management and leadership ability, excellent written and verbal communication skills, strong problem-solving ability, flexibility and the ability to multitask in a fast-paced atmosphere.

Breaking into the field of cyber security usually requires a combination of educational qualifications and up-to-date computer expertise. However, specific educational requirements for these positions will depend on the position and the employer. For instance, some entry-level positions may require work experience in addition to a two-year associate’s degree in computer science or a related field. Candidates may qualify for advancement through additional education and experience. However, most mid-level cyber security positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering, information technology, computer science or a related discipline.

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A career as a cyber security specialist is well-fitted for analytical thinkers who are excellent with computers and who love to solve puzzles. Students with a desire to protect companies from cyber crime pursue degrees in this industry with the understanding that, while positions do require hard work, the reward and knowledge that they are protecting businesses every day make it worth it. With the right experience and education, students are well-prepared for a career as a cyber security specialist.