What Skills are Needed for a Job in Cyber Security?

Published On: July 22, 2020

Careers in cyber security can be extremely financially lucrative to tech experts that enjoy success in their chosen fields. However, it is essential for cyber security experts to keep pace with changes in technology, including any new threats, so they may identify vulnerabilities before an attack occurs. 

The vast majority of cyber security jobs share a common technical foundation and soft skills needed to excel, but depending on the sub-discipline you gravitate towards, the technical skills you require may vary more.

Basic Technical Skills

As a basis for any job in cyber security, tech pros need to be confident in general programming and software development concepts, as well as have good software analytics skills. 

You should be familiar with popular programming languages such as Java, C, C++, assembly language, disassembles, and scripts such as Shell, PHP, Python, and Perl.

A solid understanding of the basic architecture, maintenance, and management of various operating systems (such as Linus distros and Windows) is also needed, as well as networking and virtualization software. 

Most people gain these skills through a college degree and then further their skills and certifications, whether it be through on the job learning or personal study, in order to focus their area of expertise.

One of the best certifications that can help set you apart within the tech field, as a specialist in cyber security, is the CISSP Certification. It is widely acknowledged as the best cybersecurity qualification you can acquire and is globally recognized by employers such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft. Completing CISSP training will ensure that you possess a thorough understanding of the tech security domain.

Desirable Technical Skills

Further tech skills that are particularly relevant to cyber security include:

Intrusion Detection

A single data breach can have serious financial consequences for a company, sometimes costing millions of dollars, so cybersecurity experts need to stay up to date with technological advances. Intrusion detection software needs to be strong enough to detect powerful trojans and backdoor codes that threaten to penetrate security walls.

Risk Analysis and Mitigation

Having a proactive approach towards security will help you stay ahead of the game. Being skilled in penetration testing, or ethical hacking, is a great way in which you can anticipate attacks and prepare contingency measures.

Malware Analysis and Reversing

Security pros are expected to develop their skills in digital threat management as malware intrusion is a serious issue. In the event of an attack, keeping the business running and disaster recovery planning are essential skills to help a company make a speedy recovery.

Cloud Security

Cloud security is becoming a highly coveted skill as the number of cloud attacks increases. The cloud is susceptible to data breaches, malicious insiders, hijacked accounts and more.

Security Analysis

Security analysis is an important role in almost every company and therefore the demand for analysts is high. Cybersecurity professionals should be able to analyse the many security options available to them and build innovative and secure business solutions by implementing them.

Soft Skills and Characteristics

There are also a number of personal or soft skills that are beneficial to those wanting to work in cyber security. Possessing these skills or characteristics will make the cyber security domain that much easier for you to succeed in.


In addition to your technical knowledge, your ability to think logically about a security issue that arises and apply a solution, will be the foundation for your success. Attention to detail and incredible tenacity are required in order for you to model and analyse data methodically. The best way to gain this skill is through hands on experience, but it helps to have a logical brain, good attention to detail, and the ability to think outside the box.


Due to the constantly evolving nature of the tech and cybersecurity market, you’ll be expected to keep up to date with the existence of new threats and adapt quickly. In order to do this you need to be resourceful and continually focused on the pursuit of new knowledge. 

Self Starter

Being a self starter and having the ability to work independently will help you massively in a career in cybersecurity. You will be part of a team, but will often be required to work on your own, so you’ll need to have the ability to stay motivated and solve problems while working on your own.


Many people you communicate with on a daily basis, will not have the same level of knowledge or technical jargon that you do, when it comes to cybersecurity issues. Communicating, whether it be in person or via email or report, will often require you to be able to explain complex tech issues in layman's terms, in order for you to introduce and enforce new security policies.

Sourcing New Cyber Skills

If you want to pursue a career in cybersecurity but feel that you are lacking some of the skills needed, then you can attempt to gain new skills by completing further training and certifications, as well as through on-the-job experience.

If you already have a tech degree, then becoming a certified information systems security professional with CISSP training will be a great first step in proving to employers that you possess a thorough understanding of the cybersecurity domain.

In order to develop your soft skills, you often need hands-on experience, so while you’re waiting for your dream job to come along, why not volunteer your skills to local charities, businesses, or open source projects? You’ll find that your communication and troubleshooting skills will progress naturally, the more you have the opportunity to use them. Plus, the voluntary work you’re involved in now will prove to future employers that you’re a self-starter!


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