Advancing your cybersecurity career, infrastructure, and personal safety
The concept of cybersecurity seems like a daunting one. The world is largely dependent on access to technology, with data transmission reaching new speeds every year. Our personal and professional lives are undeniably intertwined with the use of tech. As such, these digital nodes and assets need protection, thus entering the realm of cybersecurity. But with a world of IT infrastructure to manage, the concept of cybersecurity appears beholden only to experts and technology masters.
But the reality is far more forgiving. In fact, whether you’re seeking a professional career in cybersecurity or want to brush up on modern-day tactics to fend off even the worst threats, cybersecurity is quite welcoming. It’s a broad field, not one single path. It requires input from multiple parties with a healthy mix of expertise, instinct, and strategy. Numerous careers exist in cybersecurity, and outside of that, there’s plenty to learn to keep your data, systems, and personal information safe.
Find your goal; what do you want to do?
Like any good plan, you need to focus on goals and what you want to achieve. Organizations, naturally, seek to establish a strong cybersecurity posture that’s also budget-conscious. Individuals looking for a career in cybersecurity no doubt want a foundation to build on leading them to employment and advancement in the IT sector. And, individuals who have concerns about personal safety want simple but effective ways to protect themselves.
Cybersecurity is a large, complex field. So, trying to take it all in one go isn’t practical. Know what you want before you begin your journey, however short or long that may be.
Everyone wants to improve their cybersecurity, but not everyone wants to jump into the extensive professional field of cybersecurity. So, what can an individual do to protect their data assets, without putting a hole in their wallet?
The basics, really, come down to a bit of common sense and extra precautions. A good rule of thumb is: “If you don’t trust it, don’t interact with it.” In other words, ignore any strange links, messages, or calls-to-action that appear highly suspicious. Even if a message is safe, you should avoid it unless you’re completely certain it’s okay to interact with.
But that’s just one of many things you can do. Naturally, cybercriminals engage in continuously evolving phishing schemes and social engineering tactics to take advantage of our trust. And, if you’re not tech-savvy, avoiding these schemes indeed proves challenging.
Some general tips to secure your personal data are as follows:
- When available, take advantage of multi-factor authentication (and remember to save your backup codes in case of a lost device/old phone)
- Always have a form of anti-virus installed (Windows, for example, has its default Windows Defender as part of the operating system)
- Remain suspicious of emails or messages alerting you to “account errors” or making bold financial claims, they’re often designed to rush the recipient into making a sudden decision
- Avoid randomly downloading extensions to your web browsers if they’re not necessary
- Always remember that your data is valuable and will be targeted, hackers go after “easy money”
For Career Starters
These days, jumping into any new career or field seems a daunting task. Cost and education requirements are typically the first things that come to mind.
However, nabbing a job in the IT and cybersecurity field doesn’t require a college degree – at least not initially. Hopefuls can explore numerous self-taught courses like CompTIA certifications to boost their background and knowledge. Certifications like those are the backbone of entry-level careers. While it does cost money to take the exams, there are plenty of discounts available, and it’s far more cost-conscious than say a 4-year university investment.
Free training materials and videos are plentiful, too. While long-term hopefuls will need to seek higher education for serious roles like chief security officer, cybersecurity expert, or consultation roles, the gateway into these positions is not barred. Considering IT and cybersecurity fields are in desperate need of experts, there are more than enough inexpensive resources out there for newcomers. In fact, some can even forgo an intensive university experience with enough certifications and hands-on experience.
For Business and Organizations
No doubt, an enterprise considers its bottom line when onboarding any new policy or structure into its workflow. And, when considering cybersecurity, there’s a fire burning in the wallet – or so the misconception is. While true in various cases it does require capital investment to strengthen cybersecurity and IT posture, it’s not all cost-centric. And in fact, there are inexpensive, free things an organization can do right now to bolster its architecture.
Much of what we touched on for individual awareness can also be applied to an enterprise, though focused on staff policies. Zero-trust, MFA, and encryption are a handful of methods to utilize. An organization can also cut costs by reaching out to third-party specialists. An MSP, for instance, provides access to resources a network may not currently have, such as cybersecurity veterans, cloud-scaling infrastructure, and even training insights.
Organizations should also take advantage of official resources and guidelines, not just for the benefit of their business, but to maintain compliance with regulatory mandates. For example, the NICE Framework is an excellent foundational guide for building up enhanced cybersecurity architecture.
The important thing to remember is cybersecurity, while broad and complex, is also simplified to be accessible to virtually anyone willing to learn.