It’s a question people often ask because they want to know what’s involved before going after a career in cybersecurity. And as it is a question people often ask, I took it upon myself to find out.
How difficult is cybersecurity? Working in cybersecurity can go from fairly challenging to difficult – it depends on the sector of cybersecurity where you want to work in and the specific criteria of the job. Such is the range of careers offered by cybersecurity that you can find the role difficult, a bit difficult, or not really that you want.
So what specifically about a cybersecurity career makes it easier or more difficult than another? Just take into account a few factors which will determine the difficulty of a specific role that you pursue. We’ll list these now.
Factor #1: With More Responsibility Comes More Difficulty
In many sectors of business, salary increases often equate come with more responsibility. Cybersecurity is generally no exception, yet difficulty can also come with more responsibility in a particular role. In other words, a low-level role involved with a small network with a small impact will be less challenging as a similar position but with a larger company and with more assets to secure. For whilst both roles and their respective job spec look alike, it would be assumed that the one dealing with a larger network size is more complex and likely to come with more stress – without forgetting that a larger system is prone to more attacks than smaller ones – thereby more difficulty in the role. Consider also that larger systems may receive more attacks than lesser-known systems, which also increases the difficulty of the position.
An alternative way of looking it at is in roles that are not on an equal level but higher than other roles. More senior roles may involve extra responsibilities like reporting to the management team, e.g., Chief Information Security Officers who have to brief the CEO daily on any cybersecurity. To reiterate, with more responsibility can come more difficult for the role you are aiming to get.
Factor #2: Learning difficulties
There aren’t many sectors that evolve as fast as cybersecurity which means that cybersecurity demands far more continuous learning than other sectors. And this learning is no easy task. Whereas learning is optional and more flexible in other slower or not developing sectors, learning for cybersecurity is vital just to keep your job. This means it is both a routine and more difficult in cybersecurity.
Factor #3: A difficult manager equals more difficulty
As in any job, an enjoyable job can turn into an unpleasant one if the boss is a bad one. By bad, we mean not up to sufficiently training the employees more than anything to do with the working atmosphere.
As any high performing cybersecurity professional will tell you, a good boss is one who provides him or her with regular training invested in by the company and within office hours. It all helps make the routine process of learning cybersecurity a lot simpler. This investment by an employer will make the learning treadmill of cybersecurity much easier for you. Should you find you don’t have such a boss, chances are you’re having to pay for your own training and in our free time to boost your knowledge. Overtime to improve knowledge only makes the challenge of learning more complicated, even if it means you are up to date, growing, and relevant.
Factor #4: Using technology more can render Cybersecurity Difficult
Our growing reliance on and a subsequent need to deploy new technologies also increases the difficulty of learning cybersecurity. A long time ago, the workload of technology departments was lighter. With the advent of Cloud, VoIP, Cloud, et al, a cybersecurity professional has significantly more technology to master and know about. This has far from made the job of learning cybersecurity easier. Not forgetting the need for supporting and making safe these technologies isn’t going to go away. Which means the aforementioned difficulty will only increase.
Factor #5: The ‘other’ skills make Cyber Security more difficult
Of course, it isn’t just an increase in technology that has complicated things. A majority of jobs in the cybersecurity sector now look for a knowledge of non-tech skills. Be it interpersonal or team and client communication, writing up reports, or reporting to management, these skills can be daunting to many professionals especially if these are not their forte. Being able to write well is often overlooked by those entering the profession, let alone the quantity of writing required to document their work, This then typifies an additional skill that a professional in cybersecurity has to grasp on top of all the pre-requisite technical skills.
Added to this the need for soft skills in top-level positions, skills such as negotiating, presenting to clients and budgeting and it all means that a range of soft skills is required even for those not strong in these areas and who need to learn them, complicating the job all the more. Fear not however as there are ways to simplify the task.
Factor #6: Being passionate simplifies the job
How best to see if a job will be difficult, cybersecurity included? Find out how interested and passionate the candidate is in and for this sector. A passionate candidate is more inclined to see the extra learning as an enjoyable challenge whereas someone who doesn’t won’t probably enjoy this.
It goes without saying that passionate recruits will want to read up more, play around with technology, or share their passion with their entourage. It is for them an enjoyable and not complicated.
You should, therefore, be honest in assessing your interest and passion for technology, allowing you to decide if you’re really interested in hacking, penetration and network security is enough to make it easier for you enough to enjoy the job. And subsequently, you will see if your interest and passion will make the job either difficult or challenging
Just as a gamer will find gaming challenging rather than difficult thanks to their enjoyment of playing games and learning how to win. Gaming will be easier for them, then so the same applies to cybersecurity – passion will make the technology simpler for you than someone who has no passion for the subject.
How you can make cybersecurity easier
Thankfully, you can do a few things to make your job easier thus more enjoyable and satisfying. Take these into account when embarking on a career in this field.
- Be truly passionate about it. If you’re not passionate about it, you will find it difficult automatically. You will feel the flow if the passion is there and easier will cybersecurity be. Ensure you’re passionate about whatever you do.
- Learn something new every day. You wouldn’t try to eat a whale in one go but bit by bit. So you should approach learning cybersecurity in the same way. If you read about your specialty an hour a day, you would only need three to five years to be world-class in it. Get up that bit earlier and read and do a bit of cybersecurity every day.
- Work with employers who invest in training and your success. A boss who doesn’t invest in your success will, with time, make you behind. They’ll only complicate things for you by not investing in your learning. Look for employers who will facilitate learning for you.
- Don’t hesitate to switch jobs if your job doesn’t evolve An employee in the same job for say ten years will claim to have ten years of experience. Not always so as some of these will have actually had ten times the same one year of experience. Keep an eye on your job and look to change jobs if it means new opportunities for learning.
- Remember that what makes cybersecurity difficult for you are making it so for everyone. This puts off or forces people out of cybersecurity and it is also this that gets you closer to better opportunities and salaries.
How hard is a cybersecurity degree? Compared to other programs, it can be hard but on the other hand more flexible as it may not require advanced math, using an intensive lab or doing practice exams.
What’s the best way to learn more about it? A good way would be to meet professionals in cybersecurity and ask questions about their job. The secret side apart, they should be quite happy to talk about their job. You can use Linkedin to do this.