Cybersecurity experts offer their advice on what it’s like joining the industry!
We recently hosted a roundtable discussing Dr. Jessica Barker’s book “Confident Cybersecurity: How to get started in cyber security & future proof your career”, in which we were joined by Stephen Khan, Ben Koppelman, Javvad Malik and Jessica Barker herself. The discussion delved into several areas, including the ethical considerations surrounding ransomware payments, the fundamentals of building a security culture and how legislation is keeping up with the industry. However, as can probably be guessed by the title of the book, the experts also covered the basics of getting a foothold in the industry.
Unfortunately, the typical perception of this industry is shrouded in the false pretense that you must be highly technical and have a deeply rooted interest in technology. Lucky for you, that isn’t always the case. Jess’s book specifically aims to break these stereotypes and offer some perspective on how various backgrounds can prove useful when looking to get into this niche industry.
It’s important to consider the variety of areas cybersecurity covers. There are so many different people who come from different backgrounds and have different skills. Yes, many people will have their own specialisms, but not everyone will have the same level of expertise. In fact, the experts agreed that the key to working in cyber is having the ability to bring the right people together and ask the right questions. Once we break cybersecurity down, it’s possible to see that anyone can enter the industry – no matter what their background is. Keep in mind, areas such as marketing, PR, HR, journalism, etc. are also vital within the cyber!
Unfortunately, the cyber industry still lacks diversity. And “if you’re lacking diversity, you are lacking talent,” which is why we are trying to encourage more people to venture into this field. The experts on the panel believe that, when it comes to an industry as important as cybersecurity, it is important to nurture and encourage any and all individuals interested in entering the industry.
Contrary to what some people may think, the cybersecurity industry is a very welcoming and supportive community; one where many have felt imposter syndrome or like a fish out of water. This universal experience of comparison and feeling slightly lost at first is precisely why the community is always quick to offer advice and support to anyone who may need it.
So, without further ado, here are our expert’s top tips:
#1 – Stay curious: Ben suggests that, if you do join cyber without a particular IT background, make sure you always put yourself forward for opportunities. There is so much to learn and so much knowledge to share with others, so grasp every chance to develop your skills.
#2 – Start a blog: Elaborating on tip #1, starting a blog has proven beneficial for many within the industry, Javvad Malik being one of them! Establish a profile and share your thoughts and knowledge. Not only will this help you learn new things about the industry, but it will also help you connect with likeminded people. It’s important to remember that you won’t always have the answer, and that’s okay! You can work your thoughts out as you go along or ask for a helping hand when you need one.
#3 – Don’t stand in your own way: Jess knows the struggle of being your own biggest obstacle. Her main advice is not to doubt yourself. Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard, whether that’s starting a blog or submitting yourself forward for a rookie podcast/track at the next big cyber conference! If you see a job and find it interesting, apply – even if you don’t tick all the boxes. You’ll never know where it could lead you.
#4 – Connect, connect, connect: Stephen Khan’s biggest tip is to contact people on LinkedIn already working in the industry and ask them for advice. Most people will be happy to advise you on how to get your foot in the door and offer their own insights. But remember, people in this industry are very quick to send suspicious-looking emails to their junk folder, so make sure to sound authentic!
Ultimately, joining a new industry can be daunting, which is why it’s always important to do your research and learn as you go. Ask for support where needed and trust in your own capabilities. But take it from someone who works in cyber – once you join cybersecurity, there’s no turning back!