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5 Ways to Advance Your Cyber Security Career in 2021

Driven faster by the pandemic, more organizations offer a remote working environment than ever before, increasing the demand for cyber security skills. A 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey indicated that 35% of organizations see hiring cyber security professionals as a top priority, because these professionals help them to secure corporate data and fend off persistent cyber attacks. Many companies accelerated their tech investments, shifting operations to cloud environments, and moving rapidly to remote working environments, which highlights both the need to prioritize basic security training for all employees and ensure that cyber security professionals stay ahead on cyber security skills.

How can you ensure that your skills are keeping pace with these evolving demands? Here are five ways you can advance your cyber security career in 2021, so you can meet the needs of organizations today and tomorrow.

1) Take online classes

But first, make sure you understand the skills and certifications that will position you best for advancement into the roles you want. CyberSeek offers an interesting cyber security career pathway map that may help you evaluate feeder and entry-level roles and how they transition into mid-level and senior positions, such as cyber security engineer, cyber security administrator, cyber security architect, and more — there are leadership roles beyond the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), so look for the right role for your skills and interests. The site also includes information about the certifications and skills you can expect to see requested for your next role.

2) Align your security program around business goals

Work with your leadership team to understand business goals and align the security program around them. Different businesses have different goals and priorities, so unless you’re aligned, you may be missing the mark. For example, a business reliant on online ad revenue may choose to prioritize uptime, while a financial services organization that must meet many regulations and therefore may prioritize the security of customer data over availability. And while it’s important to align the security program around business goals, remember that you’re the cyber security expert — leadership teams expect you to know how to protect your organization from security threats, so think beyond what they ask for and deliver what they need based on the changing threat landscape.

3) Value different perspectives

Professionals with backgrounds in information technology, law, compliance, and government are now filling cyber professional roles. These varying backgrounds offer a fresh view on security threats and business risks, which could help make your security program more robust. In the past, many cyber security professionals came from technical backgrounds, including information technology, computer science, and computer engineering. Today, cyber security values knowledge of human behavior, finance, risk and risk management, law, and regulation to build a successful cyber security program.

4) Look ahead

Make sure your expertise aligns with future growth opportunities. According to a recent study by Atlas VPN, application development security, cloud computing, and risk management will have the most job opportunities from 2021 to 2025. Today there are more cyber security roles open than there are professionals to fill them, but that’s no guarantee of a future position. Stay up to date on technology and security developments.

5) Listen, ask questions, and learn

Successful cyber security professionals have excellent analytical skills, can talk with — and listen to — clients (internal or external to the organization), translate technical information to business value, communicate effectively, and work as a team.

Your cyber security career growth is ahead

Cyber crime continues to grow. The pandemic hasn’t put a stop to it — if anything, there’s been an increase in breaches, phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, and other cyber security threats. The SolarWinds hack alone highlights the challenges of enterprise cyber security and how important it is not to take cyber security for granted, including from other companies and the federal government. To advance your career, you’ll need to pay attention to a wide range of threats and possibilities, and most of all, keep learning and asking questions