If you have been thinking about becoming a cyber security professional or want to advance your career in this field, now is the time to do it. Cybercrime has reached an unprecedented level in the UK, job vacancies are plentiful and industry-recognised qualifications can be gained online.
More than twelve months after COVID-19 entered our lives, closed businesses and disrupted jobs, you may be feeling hesitant about the future. Is now really a good time to be getting onto the career ladder, changing career or trying to move into a new role? For many people, the answer to this question might be no. But if you are one of the many who would like to build a successful career in cyber security, the answer is a resounding yes. The timing couldn’t be better.
Here are five reasons why now is a great time to jumpstart your cyber security career.
1. Cybercrime has increased
Cyberattacks on UK businesses increased by a staggering 20% last year, making 2020 the worst year on record for cybercrime, according to a study by Beaming. This dramatic escalation in cyber threats is partly attributed to COVID-19 and the changes that the coronavirus pandemic necessitated in working practices. Lockdowns and home-working created insecure distributed teams; security patches and protocols were less rigorously applied than usual; new remote working solutions were often hastily deployed without adequate security testing and training; and cyber criminals had time on their hands to exploit these weaknesses.
Alarmingly, almost half of businesses (46%) in the UK have experienced cyber security breaches or attacks, according to a survey published by the UK Government in 2020, and these incidents were not just inconvenient. Among those businesses that identified breaches or attacks, one in five (19%) lost money or data, while two in five (39%) faced some kind of business disruption. So far in 2021, many high profiled organisations in the UK have fallen victim to cyber criminals, including the British clothes retailer Fatface which detected “suspicious activity” within its IT systems in January. Customer data held by the energy firm Npower was hacked in February, and the University of Portsmouth had to shut down its IT systems completely for 12 days in April following a ransomware attack. In 2020, the high profiled victims of cybercrime ranged from Easy Jet and Facebook to the NHS. Almost all businesses are at risk – and in need of specialist skills to protect them.
2. There are millions of cyber security job vacancies
According to some estimates there are currently 3.5 million cybersecurity job vacancies worldwide, which means that there are plenty of opportunities for the right candidates. Business that don’t have dedicated IT security teams are looking to recruit, while other businesses with existing in-house capabilities are looking to strengthen the skills and knowledge of their employees.
In the UK, eight out of ten businesses say cyber security is a high priority for their senior management boards. However, a significantly high proportion of these businesses do not have access to the IT security skills they need. The UK Government estimates that around 653,000 businesses in the UK (48%) have a basic skills gap in areas such as setting up configured firewalls, storing or transferring personal data, and detecting and removing malware. In addition, around 408,000 businesses (30%) have more advanced skills gaps, in areas such as penetration testing, forensic analysis and security architecture.
3. Cyber security job roles are varied
There are a wide variety of roles within the cyber security field from network security manager and security engineer to incident handler. There are also specialist roles such as ethical hackers, who seek out security weaknesses, and forensic investigators, who evidence the implications of an attack. Common cyber attacks in the UK today include malware, phishing and brute-force attacks, but new cyber threats are constantly emerging creating a dynamic working environment for cyber security professionals.
The precise nature of cyber security roles will often differ from industry to industry, as some sectors are more vulnerable to certain types of attack than others. Pharmaceutical organisations, for example, are most concerned about ransomware and threats to the security of their pharmacology research and intellectual property. Financial organisations, on the other hand, are particularly focused on reducing the risks of customer data breaches and need iron-clad application security.
4. You can get cyber security qualifications online
Obtaining qualifications in cyber security has never been easier. ITonlinelearning allows students to study for internationally-recognised qualifications from organisations including EC-Council. Students learn in their own time, get support from a personal tutor and can spread the cost of the course over regular monthly payments.
ITonlinelearning currently offers more than ten different cyber security courses from EC-Council alone, including entry level-courses such as Ethical Hacking Core Skills and Certified Security Analyst. EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker course is ranked in the top four cyber security certifications, and, in a 2021 survey conducted by ISCN, 25% of respondents named this course as a qualification that is ‘in demand by employers’. In the same survey, 33% of cybersecurity professionals stated that the EC-Council Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO) course, offered by ITonlinelearning, “is one of the best for equipping participants to succeed in managerial positions.”
5. The career prospects for qualified cyber security professionals are good
All the courses available through ITonlinelearning are updated regularly to reflect the changing threat landscape and ensure students learn the latest tools and techniques to tackle existing, rising and emerging new risks. The prospects for candidates that have gained recognised qualifications are good, because courses are mapped to job roles and the needs of leading organisations including government bodies.
Most organisations ask for recognised qualifications when shortlisting and recruiting job candidates. ITonlinelearning can advise you on which qualifications to take to put you in the prime position for your next career move. There are often overlaps between courses, with skills learned on one course being transferrable to another. Students can therefore easily progress through a series of courses, building their qualifications and their career prospects over time.
So don’t wait. Study now for the qualifications you need and look forward to a rewarding and successful career in cyber security.