Interested in cyber security? Industry expert answers your questions

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Interested in cyber security? Industry expert answers your questions

Following our successful cyber security summer school last month, BJSS’s Adam Nygate answers students’ burning questions about this exciting industry.

Which A levels would you recommend for a career in this type of work?

A levels tend to vary between schools and colleges, so whilst I do recommend taking one or more of the following: computing, ICT, maths, physics; it is important to remember that nothing can substitute independent learning. Additionally, having people with different backgrounds and skillsets is invaluable to any cyber security team, so not taking one of the above subjects shouldn’t dissuade you from a career in it.

What BTEC would you recommend for a career in cyber security?

A BTEC in computing or computing related field (e.g. networking or engineering) would start you on the right path. It is important to remember though, that nothing can substitute independent learning, so whilst you are studying I’d definitely recommend that you begin reading materials that more closely align with cyber security.  

What hours do you typically work?

It varies depending upon where you work, in consultancy, your hours normally revolve around your clients, when they need you, you have to be there. However, I’ve also worked in organisations in which their core office hours were only 10 – 3! It’s also important to know that some jobs will require you to be “on-call” meaning that if something goes wrong (e.g. somebody’s hacking into your organisation), you have to be in the office ASAP.

What qualities do you need to work in this field?

The most important qualities are that of having a logical/analytical mind; being able to spot things that seem out of place. Additionally, being a self-starter (the ability to get “up and running” quickly and independently) and a problem-solver are also important.

What skills do you need to work in this field?

The most important skills are that of independent learning. Unlike other professions/careers, cyber security can vastly change on a weekly basis and if you do not keep up on the current trends, you may be left behind.

What are your favourite points of the job?

I’ve always really enjoyed being able to solve really complex problems and in cyber security, you’ll be solving a lot of them and your solutions can be really important, life changing even.

What are some of the main reasons for people to join this field?

I’d say the most popular reason at the moment is salary (which can be very generous), but for me and for other cyber security professionals, I enjoy the thrill of it, everyday you’re facing down adversaries trying to attack your organisation, like a modern-day battlefield.

How could penetration testing/ computer science affect the medical profession?

We’ve already seen huge innovations in biotech due to the advancement in technology. For example, a person can now get a smartphone-enabled pacemaker, something that ensures that the heart keeps beating the right way for people with heart problems. They connect to a smartphone, so that they may be controlled/monitored. The issue is, if security is not a consideration in the design of this product, what’s to stop somebody malicious from attacking the pacemaker and causing the person a heart attack? As we continue to modernise medicine, these things will only become bigger threats unless we begin to ensure that they are secure.