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10 skills you need to succeed in cybersecurity

Female cybersecurity professional sitting at a laptop

At a glance

  • Because cyberattacks are growing increasingly sophisticated and malicious, there is a greater need for professionals who can combat these threats.
  • System administration, programming languages, data management, and cloud and blockchain security are some of the important areas to learn about.
  • Professionals in this space benefit from certain soft skills as well, including accurate typing and strong organizational abilities.
  • To learn more about vital cybersecurity skills, explore online IT and cybersecurity programs at University of Phoenix.

Given the growing sophistication of cybercrime and attacks, organizations need cybersecurity professionals who can identify and protect them from these threats.

This is also true for the foreseeable future. Cybersecurity professionals have to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the future of cybersecurity and technology, including evolving malware, remote access corners, the increase of automation, cyberwarfare, cybercrime and other advancing threats.

Cybersecurity experts must possess certain foundational skills to effectively counter these and other threats. Here, we take a look at what those are.

Learn how to stop cyber threats with a Cybersecurity degree.

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System administration

A cybersecurity professional’s ability to develop, maintain and troubleshoot networks and computer systems is essential. System administrators must use their skills to:

  • Understand how cyber environments function holistically
  • Install and upgrade applications/software
  • Monitor system performance
  • Configure hardware components
  • Troubleshoot system errors
  • Develop cybersecurity policies
  • Manage user access rights
  • Deploy cybersecurity tools and technologies

System administrators guarantee computer systems and services function properly. The responsibilities associated with this occupation can be extensive and vary depending on what type of technology it relates to. However, most tasks have certain elements in common regardless of the specific technologies employed.

Most companies prefer network and computer systems administrators applicants to possess a bachelor’s degree in relevant fields, such as a computer and information technology or other related fields. At the very least, some companies may consider applicants who have a postsecondary certificate or associate degree paired with experience and reference.

Network administrators must remain knowledgeable about the latest technological advancements in this ever-evolving field. They often accomplish this through courses and IT conferences.

Programming languages

Data programming languages are a cybersecurity professional’s best friend. With the right skills, cybersecurity specialists can create custom scripts and programs to automate cybersecurity tasks like malware detection, data collection and patching vulnerable systems.

In addition to knowing popular high-level programming languages such as Python, cybersecurity experts should be familiar with lower-level languages such as C, C++ and assembly. A basic understanding of these languages helps cybersecurity specialists identify areas in code vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Certifications such as CompTIA Security+ or Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) can benefit those looking to learn more about programming languages and stay up to date on cybersecurity trends. However, these skills go beyond just cybersecurity. Knowing how to code can help network managers and cyber analysts as well.

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The future of cybersecurity

Data management

Data management is a huge part of cybersecurity. Cybersecurity professionals must be able to handle, store and protect vast amounts of data. They need to know how to correctly classify, label and store information to keep it secure.

Data management skills also involve knowing what types of data should be shared with other cyber professionals, such as cyber investigators and analysts. In addition, they need to understand data privacy principles and how to protect sensitive data from cyberattacks. Having a degree in information systems can be beneficial, but there are also certificates and certifications available that can help improve one’s cybersecurity skill set.

Certifications like Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) are great ways to demonstrate cybersecurity data management skills. However, learning cybersecurity is not a one-time process but an ongoing journey of self-improvement and education. As threats evolve, cybersecurity professionals must stay updated on trends and technologies to protect organizations.

Cloud security

Cloud computing is a common cybersecurity tool that stores and processes data remotely. Cybersecurity professionals must understand the complexities of this technology and be able to assess and mitigate cloud-based threats.

Cloud cybersecurity specialists should understand cloud architecture, popular cloud applications such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, and security best practices for cloud computing. With a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology or a related field, you can potentially become an information security analyst.

Cloud security isn’t limited to cybersecurity professionals. Network engineers, software developers and cyber analysts can all benefit from having a basic understanding of cloud computing and security best practices. Certifications such as the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner are a way for cybersecurity professionals to demonstrate their knowledge in this field.

Blockchain security

Blockchain is an innovative cybersecurity technology that has revolutionized storing and managing data. Cybersecurity professionals must understand how to use blockchain technology securely to ensure the safety of their organization’s data.

Blockchain security specialists should understand cryptography, distributed ledger technologies and cloud computing well. They should also be familiar with cybersecurity best practices and understand how to protect distributed ledgers from attacks. A degree in computer science or engineering can benefit professionals seeking to gain more knowledge of blockchain technology.

The Certified Blockchain Security Professional (CBSP) certification is another excellent way professionals can demonstrate skills in this area. This certification examines security best practices and teaches professionals how to secure blockchain technology.

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a rapidly growing technology. In this regard, cybersecurity specialists must identify threats related to connected devices and develop best practices for protecting IoT networks.

IT specialists should also understand cybersecurity protocols, secure coding principles and software development life cycles. Those with computer science, engineering or math degrees can potentially become security analysts and specialize in IoT cybersecurity.

With the Certified IoT Security Practitioner (CIoTSP) certification, professionals can demonstrate their skills in this area. Aside from cyber specialists, software engineers, network engineers and system architects can benefit from learning cybersecurity best practices for IoT.

AI and OS

Establishing a strong cybersecurity foundation begins with understanding operating systems and their corresponding vulnerabilities. Among the common operating systems IT professionals should know is artificial intelligence (AI). As AI continues to gain traction in cybersecurity, professionals must know how to leverage machine learning algorithms to detect existing or potential threats.

AI cybersecurity specialists should understand security best practices for AI systems, data privacy regulations and secure coding principles. With a degree in computer science or engineering, you can potentially become an AI cybersecurity analyst.

Soft cybersecurity skills

Continuous learning in technology is necessary because of the field’s ever-changing nature. However, hard skills are only part of the equation for cybersecurity professionals who wish to thrive in this field. Professional soft skills are also important.

Cybersecurity professionals must be able to work cross-functionally with other departments and be comfortable troubleshooting, educating and collaborating with people who have other areas of expertise. To do so effectively, they need the following skills.

Accurate typing

The ability to type quickly will help cybersecurity specialists in their day-to-day tasks, such as searching through a system’s code or writing reports regarding threats.

Time management

Time management skills are also crucial. With threats constantly evolving, cybersecurity specialists must act quickly and efficiently when responding to incidents.

Organizational skills

Developing good organizational skills can help cybersecurity specialists better manage incidents effectively, identify threats in real time and prioritize security tasks appropriately.

Ultimately, a career in cybersecurity requires a combination of cybersecurity skills and soft skills. Those with a knack for technology and cybersecurity best practices can become specialists with the right education, certifications and experience.

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How to get into cybersecurity: Degrees, careers and salaries

Earn a degree in cybersecurity at University of Phoenix

Whether you’re seeking to gain a basic understanding of information technology or cybersecurity, or you’re a working professional looking to expand your skill set, University of Phoenix (UOPX) offers online course collections, bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. Learn more about undergraduate and graduate online technology programs from UOPX!

  • Bachelor of Science in Information Technology — In this program you’ll learn skills including business process, cybersecurity, information systems, operations and systems analysis.
  • Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity — This online program teaches skills such as security policies, network security, cybersecurity and more.
  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity — This online program explores in depth such skills and topics as cybersecurity, security policies and vulnerability.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification exam. Topics include the phases of ethical hacking, recognizing weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a system, social engineering, IoT threats, risk mitigation and more.
  • Certified Incident Handler Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (ECIH) certification exam. This specialist certification focuses on how to effectively handle security breaches. 
  • Certified Network Defender Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the entry-level EC-Council Certified Network Defender (CND) certification exam. Courses focus on protecting a network from security breaches before they happen.
  • Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator Course Collection — This course collection can help you prepare to sit for the EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (CHFI) certification exam. You’ll learn about the latest technologies, tools and methodologies in digital forensics, including the dark web, IoT, malware, the cloud and data forensics.


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