Pursuing a Career in Cybersecurity? Three Tips from an Industry Veteran

By Curt Dukes, Executive Vice President, Security Best Practices Automation Group at CIS®

The cybersecurity industry is growing at a blistering pace. After working for decades with many of the best experts in the field, here are a few of my tips for those seeking a career in this busy field:

Before you interview, manage your digital footprint

Social media is a great community-building and networking tool, but its prevalence can expose our private lives to the public. An example:

  • A 2016 study found that 87% of employers rated LinkedIn an effective vetting tool for candidates; for those employers who used LinkedIn, the network provided highly detailed information about individuals’ skill sets and employment histories.[1]
  • However, others argue that this information is valuable to cybercriminals who want to conduct spear phishing scams and other social engineering cyber attacks.

No matter which position you align with, it’s important to protect your online presence. You need to retain control over your public profile and manage your perception to potential employers. A few tips for staying on top of your digital footprint:

Set up an alert

Names, common usernames, email address – if you want to know when Google spots new information, sign up for notifications with Google Alerts.

Close unused accounts

Haven’t used that social media profile in a few years? No longer a member of that forum? By deleting old accounts, you can often protect not just the public account information, but also the username and password combination. Massive data leaks continue to be a pervasive threat – so take the time to protect your data by limiting it to active accounts.

Use unique passwords

If you’re using the same username and password for multiple accounts (email, social media, banking app, etc.), you’re running a massive risk. Should that username + password combination fall into the wrong hands, you could lose access to multiple accounts at once. A password manager can help you keep track of unique passwords for each account.

Boost your resume with a certification (or two!)

When potential employers look at your resume, the deeper the training the better. So invest some time in additional training; many organizations offer valuable technical certifications that can make you a more attractive candidate. Whether as an alternative or in addition to traditional degree programs, technical certifications can help you branch out into different parts of the cybersecurity field and stay up-to-date with your technical specialties.

Before pursuing a certification, consider the issuing organization. Make sure they are reputable and work with well-trained instructors. A couple of great resources:

  • For U.S. government employees and veterans, FedVTE offers 900+ hours of free cybersecurity training.
  • CIS CyberMarket helps U.S. State, Local, Tribal, & Territorial governments, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions save money on cybersecurity training through collective purchasing opportunities.

Be an active participant

New technologies bring new levels of interconnectivity – and with them, new vulnerabilities and cyber threats. In order to stay competitive in the industry, you’ll want to learn beyond the classroom. Whether it’s reading up on emerging biomedical security concerns, tackling a new programming language, or simply hardening your home systems appropriately, this field takes work. We’re here to learn with you and share what we’ve gathered along the way.

  • CIS Events Calendar: Heading to a conference or workshop? We’d love to meet you.
  • CIS WorkBench: Home of the CIS Benchmarks communities, this is where we partner with experts around the world to develop secure configurations for servers, operating systems, mobile devices, and more. Come network with us!

Welcome to the team

2017 began with nearly 300,000 unfilled positions in the cybersecurity field.[2] How will you take advantage of these opportunities? By managing your digital footprint, pursuing technical training, and keeping your knowledge current, you’re bound to find success among your peers in the cybersecurity industry.

[1] https://www.fastcompany.com/3067594/this-is-what-recruiters-look-for-on-your-linkedin-profile

[2] http://cyberseek.org/heatmap