Top Cybersecurity Skills That Make You Stand Out

April 12, 2023 - Lou Farrell

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Technology moves quickly and introduces many challenges. Organizations and individuals must deal with exploits, loopholes, bad judgment, hacking and social-engineering attacks that result in data theft, ransomware attacks and other types of fraud. They need top cybersecurity skills to combat these issues.

Cyberattacks in 2021 were 15.1% more plentiful than in 2020 — and substantial numbers of executives say their organizations are not prepared for the future of digital threats.

That makes this an ideal moment in time to find out what the top cybersecurity skills are. You may have heard about the ongoing talent gap in the cybersecurity field. Although a record number of individuals make their living in the global cybersecurity workforce — 4.7 million — the industry estimated a shortfall of some 3.4 million workers in 2022.

In other words, companies keep throwing bodies at the cybersecurity problem but continue running short. Do you have what it takes to turn the situation around? Industrial, commercial and personal computing needs all the expertise it can muster to weather the ongoing storm. Here are the top cybersecurity skills in demand right now.

Top Cybersecurity Skills: The Soft Skills

Many executives have shifted their focus from hard to soft skills in recent years. Employers want to know their people are effective, from staying productive and solving problems during remote work to managing deadlines and communications. According to surveys, the number of companies paying more attention to interpersonal skills and apathy-related traits fully doubled in 2020.

Reflect on some of the soft skills that encompass top cybersecurity skills and traits:

  • Attention to detail, finding patterns and correlations, making intuitive connections
  • The ability to be a self-starter and answer your own questions
  • Effective communication skills
  • Respect for critical deadlines
  • The willingness to engage in ongoing learning
  • Decisiveness and making clear-headed recommendations under pressure

Effective communicators have intuition about what needs to be said and when, and they usually have a diplomatic way of saying it. This is a big point to underscore where ongoing learning is concerned. Cryptography, cybersecurity, hacking and defensive technologies are always changing and becoming more advanced — so don’t think you can stand still and rest on your laurels. You must continually learn new concepts, apps and platforms to keep your clients safe.

What are some of those concepts? Here are the practical hard skills you’ll need to perform your job functions.

Top Cybersecurity Skills: The Hard Skills

Soft skills sometimes take a lifetime to hone, but hard skills can be trained more rapidly. Some cybersecurity requirements are just emerging or changing with the times. Here are the foundational, fundamental cybersecurity skills you’ll be focusing on throughout your educational career:

  1. Scripting: The means to make a computer program take action. Coding is static, while scripting is dynamic. Python is a top scripting language among cybersecurity firms.
  1. Controls: These are tools organizations use to protect themselves from cyberthreats.
  1. Frameworks: Experts employ formal, organized collections of cybersecurity tools, practices and expectations — usually unique to the organization.
  1. Intrusion detection: An effective cybersecurity analyst knows how to monitor networks for suspicious activity and isolate likely threats. These experts must learn how to deploy automation and machine learning to assist in the fight.
  1. Penetration testing: Companies frequently hire cybersecurity experts to ethically find weaknesses in their networks and cybersecurity protections.
  1. Operating systems: There’s no one OS to rule them all, so you need to know about the security features of mainstream systems like Linux, macOS and Windows. Understand how to harden them further in office networks, Internet of Things (IoT) and beyond.
  1. Incident response: This is just one area where decisiveness and clear-headedness come in handy. You must isolate affected assets, notify involved parties and engage in fact-finding when incidents occur.
  1. Basic to advanced computer forensics skills: All cybersecurity experts must understand basic computer forensics. Make advanced computer forensics knowledge a priority if you want the most successful career possible.
  1. Understanding of hacking: Can you think like a hacker to identify weak points in cybersecurity buildouts? Do you know the tools and techniques they’re likely to deploy against you or your clients?
  1. DevOps and cloud development: Cloud security skills are among the hottest commodities in the cybersecurity job marketplace. Understanding how cloud systems and the software development and management processes (DevOps) create weak points is critical if you want to help organizations build new software.
  1. Regulatory knowledge: Not every state or country has the same cybersecurity laws, but regulations tend to become stricter over time. Cybersecurity experts must continuously refresh their knowledge of up-and-coming rules and understand how existing ones — like GDPR and CPPA — affect their organizations.
  1. Identity and access management (IAM): You’ll need database management, authentication and scripting knowledge to protect systems from access abuses and lapses in credential management.

How Can You Develop Cybersecurity Skills?

Where do you start if you want to possess the top cybersecurity skills and become the best at what you do?

People with a solid foundation of analytical thinking and an affinity for technology should consider pursuing a degree in cybersecurity. A certificate or degree program will prepare you well and grant you various official certifications as a practical, known credential to carry into the field.

These are some of the most in-demand cybersecurity certifications right now, according to active job listings across places like LinkedIn, Indeed and Simply Hired, and some of the most lucrative careers associated with them:

  • CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional): chief information security officer, IT security engineer, assurance analyst
  • CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor): IT audit manager, compliance manager, IT security engineer, digital security auditor
  • CISM (Certified Information Security Manager): IT manager, information systems security officer, risk consultant, governance manager
  • Security+: system administrator, cloud engineer, IT auditor, security administrator, software developer
  • CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker): penetration testing expert, incident analyst, cloud security architect, digital security engineer, threat intelligence analyst

These are just some of the possibilities. Internet of Things (IoT) security is a vital part of cybersecurity today, and standards are coming together. In California, IoT security compliance is even a matter of law — a first-of-its-kind law. Cybersecurity job applicants that develop a body of knowledge concerning IoT security and get ahead of things will be in demand.

Other certifications include GIAC Security Essentials Certification (GSEC), GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH), CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+), Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) and Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP).

It’s OK if you don’t recognize most of these yet, but it’s important to understand that this is a mature, well-established career field. All it’s missing is willing minds to take the journey. The future of digital security hangs in the balance, and that’s not hyperbole.

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Lou Farrell

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