What is cyber security?

UK businesses are facing more threats than ever aimed at their IT networks. As one of the world's most advanced digital economies, organisations throughout the country have become tempting targets for a wide range of bad actors, from hostile nation states to organised criminal gangs.

These attacks can target businesses of all sizes and across all sectors, from large multinational corporations to small firms or public sector bodies like councils, schools and hospitals

Therefore, it has become imperative for enterprises to invest in the right tools and skills to protect their computer systems, communications networks and critical data from these threats, and this means there is huge demand for people with advanced cyber security skills.

The importance of cyber security

The UK government considers cyber threats to be as big a priority as global terrorism, international military crises and natural disasters, and many businesses agree. According to insurer Deloitte, cybersecurity is rated as the second-biggest risk firms face in 2021.

In the 12 months to August 2020, the National Cyber Security Centre reported it had defended the UK from 723 incidents. Included within these were many actions originating from hostile nation states, with efforts from Russian-backed groups to target organisations involved in the development of Covid-19 vaccinations especially highlighted.

As well as these actors, cyber security professionals are needed to guard against threats including hacktivism, ransomware, the theft of data such as personal information or trade secrets, and disruptions to critical infrastructure.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2021 also showed that four in ten businesses (39 per cent) and a quarter of charities (26 per cent) reported a cyber security breach or attack in the previous 12 months, with around one in five ending up losing money, data or other assets as a result.

What jobs are available?

The result of this is that professionals with the right skills and clearances to combat these threats are in high demand among employers. However, there remains a significant shortage of personnel with these attributes.

According to 2020 figures from (ISC)², 56 per cent of professionals say their organisations are at risk due to cybersecurity staff shortages, and the problem may be especially acute in the UK. (ISC)² found that in 2020, there were 365,823 people working in cyber security in the country - more than 27,000 less than the figure it estimates is required.

Therefore, there are huge opportunities for candidates who can demonstrate they have the skills and experience necessary to keep organisations safe from today's rapidly-evolving threats, with firms in critical industries such as utilities, defence, finance and transportation especially keen to attract the best talent.

As a result, professionals looking for cyber security jobs can expect to be well-compensated - especially those who have relevant security certifications and clearances to work in the most sensitive environments.

Common roles for those with cyber security skills include:

  • Security operations
  • Security administration
  • Risk management
  • Compliance
  • Software development
  • Penetration testing
  • Forensics

The skills employers need

There are a wide range of skills and certifications businesses are looking for in these staff, while those who already have key security clearances will be especially in-demand for employers in sensitive industries such as nuclear and defence.

Skills such as penetration testing, intrusion detection, DevSecOps and cloud security are among the key attributes for any cyber security professional. However, knowledge of areas including AI, blockchain security, IoT and regulations such as GDPR are all growing in importance.

According to (ISC)², the most common security certifications held by people working in this sector are:

  • CISSP with concentration
  • CCNA Security
  • CCSP
  • CCNP Security

Cyber security is an exciting and dynamic field in which to work. To find the role that's right for you, please register your details here. You will be able to search for the latest jobs and set up Job Alerts to be emailed to you on a daily basis.