Reena Jhaveri finds out what it takes to be a cybersecurity professional
It is a term that probably didn’t exist two decades ago. It is definitely a term that was not a part of the general vocabulary until a few years ago, and perhaps, even today, is not a very popular term. And yet, cybersecurity is a concept that most people, especially professionals need to understand since our lives have become completely interdependent with technology.
Simply put, cybersecurity refers to safeguarding yourself in the cyberspace. It refers to the technology and processes designed to protect computer networks from being accessed with authority, and from the attacks that are planned and planted by ‘cyber criminals’.
As our lives become increasingly entangled with the internet with the number of mobile and computer users going up, the need for cyber security becomes really pronounced. This is also because opportunities for exploitation are higher as well.
Cybersecurity professionals focus on protecting computers, networks, software programmes and data from threats and unintended access in addition to unauthorized and change or destruction.
National Cyber Security Database of India (NCSDI) is an initiative by Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) to strengthen the Cyber Security Capabilities of India.The aim is to constitute a techno legal cybersecurity database of India, which can be used to fight cyber threats and attacks.
There may be other such institutions, but at the government level also, there is a lot of stir about cybersecurity, and there are openings for professionals across many spheres and fields. Training is not easily available, and this is a versatile field, since anyone who has knowledge of computer science and writing software can learn to be a thorough cybersecurity professional.
To get there
To enter this field, you need to have a computer background with a course in cybersecurity. Additional personal qualities are needed as well. Courses and certifications are available with many private computer institutes. As for the educational qualifications, you need to be a graduate, with adequate knowledge of computer science and software engineering. After all, cybersecurity is about writing code. You also need to display strong skills in computer networks. You should know the psyche of a hacker who can hack. There are courses available at a few institutes across the country, information for which you can find online. These are:
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad offers a MS in Cyber Law and Information Security
- Institute of Management and Technology, Ghaziabad offers an MS in Cyber Law and Security and a PG Diploma in Cyber Security
- Amrita School of Engineering, Coimbatore offers a Master of Technology – Cyber Security
- Amity University – Noida offers an MTech – Information Security & Cyber Forensics
- Faridabad Institute of Management Studies, Faridabad offers a PG Diploma in Cyber Security
- Swami Vivekananda Arts & Science College, Thanjavur offers an MS in Cyber Technology
Certified courses like Certified Information System Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Security Management (CISM), Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP) will help you gain leverage.
Additional certification courses include the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP) and Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE).
The job of a cybersecurity professional can be categorized into various levels according to experience. Entry level positions entail duties like correlating the broad security guidelines of the organization with daily operations. This position is for aspirants with least work experience. At the mid-level, a managerial role may be expected, including management of security programmes. At the senior level, the role would be to design and develop information policy, regulatory compliance and the important governance.
According to an estimate by the union ministry of information technology, India will require five lakh cybersecurity professionals by 2015 to support its fast growing internet economy. These jobs will lie across sectors, including finance, telecom, power, oil & gas, airlines, government and so on.
The Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, Crime Branch, Criminal Investigation Department, Mumbai provides a lot of information to prevent cyber crimes and help citizens to save themselves from being victims of such crimes. The department also hires specialists to work in the area.
With these demands, one can realise that the need for experts has grown exponentially, since egovernance and ecommerce are booming.
Governments, military, corporations and financial institutions among many other businesses collect, process and store a great deal of confidential information. This information is on computers, and may be required to be transmitted across the internet. Cyber attacks have also become more sophisticated, and need to be prevented to protect sensitive information from falling in the wrong hands.
It was reported a few months ago that the National Skill Development Council is also working with partners to develop cyber security talent.
Remuneration varies greatly with experience, but with one year of experience, you can expect a salary of ` 3 lakh per annum. With more experience, say for instance five years in the field, you can command a salary of ` 8 to 10 lakh per annum.
That said, one must realise that even if entry into this field is tough, the scope is very bright. As world is coming together, we need more secure and reliable communication systems. India needs secure systems to safeguard vital interests. Hence in future, it would need more such professional in great numbers.
A student says
Sanoj Prabhakar, Pursuing his course with a private institute
If you run a search on any job search site, you will find a number of jobs listed under the cybersecurity category. There has been a problem in the past, because even if the field wants to hire, the younger lot, it is reported is not interested in getting into this field, despite the decent salary packages.
The Institute of Information Security (www.iisecurity.in) conducts various trainings right from the beginners, to developers, advanced, compliance, and certification trainings. They also special trainings for security enthusiasts.
Those who opt for a course in cybersecurity or ethical hacking, should be able to access a laboratory set up which will give them a hands-on experience of security with working on vulnerable applications and systems to respond to challenges and sharpen their skills. One cannot be good at the job with merely theory explanation.
The course is extremely useful to build a career in cybersecurity. It gives the aspirant a professional outlook of the field, which is a great add on to the technical information.
Most courses are designed to provide students a systematic and practical approach towards learning which helps them to work on real life hacking.
That apart, you are expressly taught the dos and don’ts and it is imperative that you stick to them.
In the field
Varun Talati, Professional in the private sector
I am currently working in IT security management for a financial institution and my experience of working here has been really satisfying. The best part is that the hours are slightly flexible, but not all professionals get this option. I work in a small close-knit team, and this is an important feature to working in cybersecurity, since the work is highly confidential.
This brings me to an important aspect of any job in this field – realiability. You need to extremely careful while handling sensitive information and be sure not to unwittingly give out crucial information relating to your job, even when chatting with friends. A lot of what I do is related to creating and improving process for handling responses and safety issues with online shopping and ecommerce, so I need to be extra careful, since our country is notorious for cybercrimes.
Working is this field can be extremely challenging, and you need to keep up with field with new happenings and be up-to-date with every new problem that can occur as a cyber crime. There is a range of possibilities, if you choose to work in this field.
An aspirant asks
Amit Tambe, BSc Computer Science graduate
I want to be cybersecuity professional. What are the challenges and how to prepare for them? What are the basic qualities required for entering this field? Are there any institutes in Mumbai offering this course?
Professional Varun Talati answers: To understand whether a career in cybersecurity is for you or not, you need to understand the work environment, its pressure points and the general and specific qualities required. If you can honestly answer these questions for yourself, you will be able to determine whether or not this field is for you. Apart from the technical skills you gather via education and experience, cybersecurity professionals are required to possess certain qualities, which enable you to prioritise work.
You will be placed in a fast-paced environment and be busy, with unpredictable work hours. You need to be willing to do it. Especially during times of crisis, cybersecurity workload needs must be prioritised. At such times, professionals need to think on their feet, be sharp and rapidly respond to threats or even anticipate them.
As for courses in Mumbai, you will have to opt for a private institute offering training in ethical hacking and cybersecurity.