If you review 2020 from the perspective of cybercriminals, it was a great year. The pandemic gave them more opportunities and ways of perpetuating their attacks, and the global loss from cybercrime reached a record of $1 trillion.
Day after day, we read about a new business falling victim to cybercrime. Most of them don’t think they will be part of the statistics, but the truth is that no one is safe. Criminals have far too many reasons to keep improving their attacks and targeting more and more organizations.
But, is money what motivates cybercriminals?
4 Things That Motivate Cybercriminals
The short answer is yes, there is a lot of money involved in cybercrimes, but this is not the only motivation behind an attack. It can be influenced by other factors that also determine how, when and who a hacker targets.
According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, 86% of data breaches are motivated by financial interests. But how exactly does a hacker earn money? There are many different ways a hacker can monetize an attack. They can do it by stealing money directly from your account or encouraging others to send money using false information, or impersonating someone you trust. They can ask for ransom, and they can even sell sensitive information such as social security numbers business data.
The industries most affected by hackers looking to increase their earnings are accommodations,food services, healthcare, financial and insurance, manufacturing, and retail. But small businesses and even individual users are also at high risk.
We have seen this far too many times over the past year: attacks towards towns´ water supply and electrical systems or U.S. cities getting hit with ransomware attacks. Hackers are taking advantage of their skills to spread a message through public administrations, make statements, protest, and even take retaliatory actions by either disrupting or damaging their operations orobtaining sensitive information (espionage).
Hackers often break into computers and gain access to an organization’s system to demonstrate to black hat organizations what they can do. It is a practice that gives them status among others and can help them get hired or sponsored by criminal organizations or even by large corporations that want someone with those skills among their staff.
Just as we mentioned in the political drive, hackers sometimes act by a grudge. They interrupt a business operation just because they had a bad experience with their products/services or disagree with an organization’s way of thinking or acting.
As you can see from the above description, hackers are motivated first by financial interests, second by espionage or gaining sensitive information, and third by personal interests. Understanding the motivations behind a cybercriminal can help you understand what assets your organization has that might be of interest, why the hackers want to access them, and how you can protect them.
A cybersecurity job interview can be similar to a certification test. You need to study, practice, and remember different problems you have experienced and the lessons you learned from them.
Just like any other job interview, having the necessary technical skills is only half of the process. You really need to impress the person sitting in front of you, demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, and add value to the organization. This is your time to shine and put into practice all those soft skills we have mentioned before.
When you meet a recruiter or hiring manager for a cybersecurity role, you will be asked two types of questions: those with the intention of understanding who you are, your background and aspirations, and those designed to determine how well you fit in the position, your cybersecurity knowledge, and experience.
To help you feel more secure for that interview, CyberWarrior Academy came up with a list of the most common questions asked by recruiters and a guide to craft your answers. Remember to add a personal touch by sharing some of your past experiences, even if it’s just something you´ve learned at a lab in a cybersecurity program.
Before going into the technical aspect, we want to encourage you to craft an elevator pitch of who you are. Go over your schooling, background, achievements, skills, and motivations.
Try summarizing the answers to expected questions such as:
Why are you looking for a job change?
What are your greatest accomplishments as a cybersecurity professional?
What assets do you bring to the team?
What are your weaknesses?
What was a great challenge at work, and how did you overcome it?
Use this as an opportunity to explain what really motivates you to look for a new position: is it because you want more responsibilities? Maybe you are looking for a better salary? Whatever the reasons are, explain them and go deep into the assets you will bring to the team, your skills (soft and technical), and your impact on those you’ve worked with. Do not forget to explain why you want to work for that organization, and make sure you understand who they are, their products/services, mission, and what makes them different from their competitors.
To make a real impact on your interviewer,take this opportunity to mention the tech blogs you follow, the sites you use to learn about news in the field and comment your thoughts about recent hackings.
Once the interviewer has a better sense of your personal profile and your motivations, you will move on to the next stage: the technical questions. Now is your moment to shine!
This is the time and place to demonstrate your technical knowledge and, more importantly, that you understand how to apply it to real life. As we have said before, do not forget to mention different security situations you have faced, how you solved them, and reverted the damages.
Usually, the technical questions are divided into two categories. The first one is related to fundamental definitions, while the second one is designed to test your ability to apply those concepts in real-life situations.
Theoretical Interview Questions
1. What is the difference between a threat, a vulnerability, and a risk?
Three basic concepts anyone in cybersecurity should be able to differentiate. To summarize what they mean, you can say that: a threat is someone with the potential to harm a system or an organization. A vulnerability is a weakness in a system that can be exploited by a potential hacker (threat). A risk is a potential loss or damage when the vulnerability is exploited.
2. What is Cryptography?
Refers to the techniques used to secure information and communication from third parties or adversaries.
3. Explain the main differences between asymmetric and symmetric encryption
The main difference is that symmetric encryption uses the same key to encrypt and decrypt, while asymmetric encryption uses different keys for encryption and decryption. Asymmetric encryption is commonly used to secure an initial key-sharing conversation, but then the actual conversation is secured using symmetric crypto. Communication using symmetric crypto is usually faster due to the simpler math involved in the encryption/decryption process and because the session setup doesn’t involve PKI certificate checking.
4. What is the difference between IDS and IPS?
IDS refers to the Intrusion Detection System. This will only work detecting intrusions, while the system administrator must take charge and prevent the intrusion. On the other hand, the IPS or Intrusion Prevention System detects the intrusion and prevents it from entering the system.
5. What is CIA?
The CIA triad has nothing to do with the US intelligence agency. In Cybersecurity, mainly in Information Security, CIA stands for Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. It is a model designed to guide information security policies within an organization, ensuring that the information will only be available or modified by authorized personnel when required.
6. What is the difference between encoding, encrypting, and hashing?
These three terms are commonly interchanged and misused. Encoding involves changing data into a new format using a scheme; it is a reversible process where data can be encoded to a new format and decoded back to its original format. On the other hand, hashing involves computing a fixed-length mathematical summary of data, can’t be reversed, and is commonly used to verify data integrity. While encrypting is the process of securely encoding data and only authorized users with a key or password can decrypt to access the original data.
7. Explain the difference between Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessment
Vulnerability assessments are automated scans that identify a range of weaknesses in an organization’s systems. Simultaneously, the Penetration Tests are a more rigorous manual process that can be compared to a form of hacking, designed to identify vulnerabilities and exploit them.
8. What are the differences between HTTPS, SSL, and TLS?
HHTP is the protocol used by browsers and web servers to communicate and exchange information. HTTPS (S stands for SSL) is the secured version of this protocol. TLS is a transport layer security and the successor protocol to SSL.
9. What is Port Scanning?
The technique used to identify open ports and services available on a host. Hackers use it to find information that can help them exploit vulnerabilities, and the system administrators use it to verify their networks’ security policies.
10. Explain traceroute
A traceroute, or tracert, is a computer network diagnostic command that displays possible routes and measures transit delays of packets across an internet protocol network. It basically lists all the points that a packet passes through and can help you identify where a connection stops or breaks.
11. Explain phishing and what practices help prevent it
Phishing is thecybercrimewhere targets are reached by email, phone, or text message by a hacker posing as a legitimate institution to gain access to sensitive information, such as social security numbers, financial data, and passwords. One of the most common ways to prevent it is to constantly have employees participate in security awareness training to learn to spot phishing and not become a victim. Simulated phishing attacks should follow this to measure the effectiveness of the training.
12. What is a firewall?
A firewall is a network security device that monitors network traffic and blocks data packets depending on a set of security rules.
13. What is a botnet?
Botnet is short for robot network. It is specially designed to perform Distributed Denial of Services (DDoS) attacks, steal data, send spam, and allow hackers to access networks. In other words, a botnet is a network of computers infected by malware that is under the control of an attacking party.
14. Explain brute force attack and how you can prevent it
A brute force attack is a way of gaining access to a system and its data by repetitively trying all the permutations and possible combinations of credentials, alldone byautomated software. Using strong and unique passwords, restricting access to authentication URLs, limiting login attempts, and using CAPTCHAs are among the most common and best practices to prevent these types of attacks.
15. Explain TCP Three-Way Handshake
It is a TCP/IP network process to make a connection between the server and a client. It’s a three–step process in which the client establishes a connection with a server, the server responds to its request, and the client acknowledges the response to create a stable connection to transfer data.
16. Mention some of the most common cyber-attacks
When you hear this question, it might sound like an easy one, but don’t let pass this opportunity to share your thoughts about recent cyber-attacks. For example, right now, it would be smart to mention an interesting article you read about the SolarWinds attack or how hackers tried to contaminate Florida town’s water supply through a computer breach.
17. Explain the differences between a worm and a virus
Both worms and viruses can cause damage and propagate easily as soon as they have breached a system. The main difference is that viruses must be triggered with a host’s help (human interaction), while worms are stand-alone malicious programs that act independently.
Scenario-Based Interview Questions
For this section of the interview, try mentioning real-life experiences you’ve had, their outcome, and the lessons learned. Here is a short guide of what you should include in each answer.
1. What steps would you take to prevent outdated software from being exploited?
Outdated software is an invitation for hackers to come into your network. The best way to prevent this from happening is to automate every software process as soon as a new version is released.
2. What do you look for when trying to identify a compromised system?
A system usually will “find a way to tell you” it has been compromised. The most common signs include:
Unexplained changes infile sizes, checksums, date/time stamps, especially those related to configuration files.
Unexplained modification (addition or deletion) of data.
Unsuccessful login attempts.
Suspicious entries in the system or network accounting.
New files and users from unknown origins.
Denial of service activity.
3. How do you secure a server?
Establish a secure connection using protocols such as HTTPS, FTPs, and SSH Protocol.
Implement complex passwords and multi-factor authentication policies while educating your employees on this matter.
Have layers of security for hardware and software such as a VPN, a firewall on every web application and endpoints.
Keep data, databases, and applications updated and with real-life backups.
Test the backup process.
Restrict access to the servers.
Invest in dedicated servers.
4. How would you reset a password-protected BIOS configuration?
By locating and toggling the BIOS clear or password jumper. If it is not available, then you can try with generic passwords.
5. How do you protect your data?
Mention the best practices you follow at home, at work, and in your daily life to keep your data safe. It will probably include actions like encrypting and backing up data, having an anti-malware system, automating software backups, securing your wireless connections.
Anyone who starts looking for cybersecurity training can feel overwhelmed with the variety of options out there. An online search will show you everything from the free courses to a master’s degree, on-site classes or online programs, longer or shorter programs. And if you dare ask in online forums, you will find those who are very passionate about being self-taught.
Don’t worry. Before you keep reading about programs, certifications, and degrees, take some time to understand the key elements to look for cybersecurity training. Remember, the program you choose will be the first step to a career facing a growing talent gap, so making your resume stand out from the pack is the key to a gratifying life.
When choosing a cybersecurity program, make sure it goes beyond teaching technical skills. Please don’tmisunderstand; those skills are key in your educational background, but a good program will give its students the necessary tools to become a lifelong student.
A good program is also constantly updated to include the latest technologies, threats, and best practices for attacking and defending networks and systems. This is a field that is constantly facing new risks and attacks, and to keep up with the pace of the bad guys, you will be required to update your skills constantly.
2- Hands-On Training
The program you choose should give you more than just theoretical knowledge; it will give you hands-on learning opportunities. It should be designed with experiential learning to give you real examples of how the content discussed is relevant during an attack and how each topic is related to other technologies and circumstances.
A good cybersecurity professional is one that, since day one, is putting his skills and knowledge into practice. Then you will know if you truly understand how to apply every piece of knowledge earned in class.
3- Industry Expert Instructors
When researching cybersecurity programs, make sure to look for the instructor´s resume. If it is not published on their website, ask for it. This will help you understand who will be teaching you, their background, and their area of expertise.
As it would happen in any other field: you want to learn from the best. A skilled instructor has been in the trenches of cybersecurity, that has fought battles against hackers, that knows how to apply the NIST framework: identify, protect, detect, respond,and recover; one that knows how to leverage the lessons learned in the classroom.
4- Regionally Recognized Certifications
Make sure the program you choose grants you industry-recognized certifications; this will help your resume stand out from competitors when applying for a job and will demonstrate your level of commitment to cybersecurity and to updating your skills.
5- Work–Life Balance
The program you choose must fit into your lifestyle. It would help if you considered the class schedule, the additional hours you will need to invest, your work schedule, and your family plans. Also, ask yourself if you would rather take an online or in-person program. Each one has its own benefits. For example, an online program can be a better fit for your work schedule as you don’t have to go from one place to another, and it also helps with social distancing and COVID protection. And an in-person program gives you an easier way to networking.
When searching for cybersecurity training, make sure you take into consideration the above criteria. But don’t just stop there! Feel free to ask any questions you might have; academies and schools are there to help you figure out if the program they offerhas what you are looking for.
Companies hiring people to work in this field are looking for more than just technical skills; they want cybersecurity professionals with a complete set of capabilities that will add value to the team. Those with problem-solving skills, attention to detail, a desire to learn, adaptability, and communication skills have a greater chance of capturing a recruiter’s attention.
We’ve said it before, working in cybersecurity is not what you see in movies. This is not a job you will be doing all by yourself sitting in front of a computer. In fact, it is the other way around. Cybersecurity requires you to talk to others, be able to explain technical things to non-technical people and to be able to have good relationships with vendors and co-workers.
At CyberWarrior Academy, we focus on helping future successful cybersecurity professionals improve their technical and soft skills. We want to help you build an exceptional resume.
This blog gives you some communication tips that will be very useful when working in any cybersecurity position.
1- Speak the Same Language as Everyone Else
Most people don’t understand what cybersecurity terms such as “privacy,” “security controls,” or “network defense” mean. For your communication to be effective, you need to learn to speak in a way that anyone understands.
For example, if you are going to talk with the Board of Executives of your organization, you should put yourself in their shoes, understand the real priorities of the business, and address the impact cybersecurity can have on them. That way, you can remove confusion and achieve better results.
On the other hand, if you are going to speak with someone from another department, you should use the risk language. Everyone understands risks. We have been taught since childhood how to avoid it.
Speaking the language of risk and business will open doors to better relationships with everyone in your organization and a better return to every suggestion you make. Technical language should only be used when speaking to other experts in the area.
2- Use Tools and Visuals as your Aid
The first thing you need to do is center your conversation in relevant data, find out what really matters to your audience, and focus mainly on that. To help them understand what you are talking about, it is a great idea to include visual aids in your presentation.
At CyberWarrior Academy, we strongly recommend cybersecurity professionals use industry statistics and compare them to internal data. It would help if you also considered building risk heat maps to present cyber risks in an easy and visually attractive format.
3- Bring the Risk Closer to your Organization
Over the past few years, we have seen how more and more business leaders are starting to consider cyber risks as an important threat to their organization. Yet, there is still a lot of work to do. One way to address this situation is to make it easier for them to understand the threats they face and their possible consequences.
For example, explain the different scenarios that can happen to your organization if there is no firewall in place or what can happen if there is not working from home policy. Include the financial and reputation impact, statistics, and examples of organizations similar to yours that have been victims of these types of cyber risks.
It is important to do the same when talking to coworkers, but do it on a personal level. Please focus your comments on what can happen to them, their loved ones, and their data. Let them know what the risk is on a personal level of clicking a phishing link or how they can protect their data withtwo-factor authentication.
Communicating with different roles within your organization will open the doors to having a well-trained staff, new security projects, and a more resilient organization.
In the world we live now, not only do we (humans) need to learn how to be resilient, confront and recover from adversity, but we also need to make our businesses and organizations, especially in terms of security, able to fight tough battles while continuing their operation.
Business leaders and cybersecurity professionals need to understand that security does not accept an all-or-nothing approach. You can’t expect that your security controls will protect you from every hacker who attempts to break into your network. Nor can you operate without having certain security protocols or letting anyone with a username and password have access to every piece of information.
Any organization, big or small, is constantly at risk of becoming a victim of a cyber-attack. Our job, as cybersecurity professionals, is to build a security strategy and enable security protocols to guarantee business continuity, as well as the security of their assets.
What is Cyber Resilience?
Cyber resilience can be defined as the ability an organization has to enable business continuity while preparing for, responding to, and recovering from cyber threats.
As cybersecurity professionals, we need to accept that there is always a chance of hackers passing through your security controls. Even if you follow all the best practices, and enable every possible security protocol, hackers can and will pass them because that is their job. Ours is to detect that breach in time, protect our assets from it, and revert any possible damage.
Being a cyber-resilient organization is being ready to act in case cybersecurity measures fail (antivirus, anti-malware, VPN, firewalls) or when systems are disrupted (either because of human error, power outages, natural disasters). It is knowing what could go wrong, how to act if it happens, who is involved, and where everything that you need to take care of is.
What are the Benefits of Being a Cyber Resilient Organization?
We live in a world that is constantly evolving. Cybersecurity is not the exception. The best path to business continuity is having an approach to cybersecurity that is flexible, that adapts to change, and takes into account every possible scenario.
Being a cyber-resilient organization means:
You will have a better security posture and the ability to identify, filter, and respond to risks. Which, over time, will turn into fewer security incidents or breaches.
It will be easier to comply with regulatory and legal requirements to collect and protect third–party data.
There will be protocols and restrictions on data access to guarantee the security of your assets.
To have a back-up plan to keep your business running in case of cyber-attacks or any other technological interruption.
Have you ever thought about what makes an organization’s data so attractive that hackers want to steal it? Everyday we see more and more small and mid-size organizations falling victim to cyber-attacks, causing reputation damage, financial disaster, and even bankruptcy.
The common theme for each hack or break: data is worth money. From a cyber-attack, hackers can collect social security numbers from employees or customers, financial data from clients, confidential product information (to use it as a way to ask for ransom or sell it to a competitor), corporate data (to access employees´ account,run scams using their name), and more.
But how are they doing all this in 2021? Aren’t security measures being effective?
Most Common Ways of Stealing Business Data for 2021
As cybersecurity professionals dedicate their time to protect the organizations they work for from cyber-attacks, hackers are spending time creating and testing new ways to victimize people. And, 2020 wasn’t the exception. We saw how they used the COVID-19 pandemic on emails and phishing attacks to create more victims.
Social Engineering Attacks
One of the biggest risks in cybersecurity is the human factor. Hackers are well aware of this, and take advantage of the fact that not everyone has good cybersecurity hygiene. Social engineering attacks are those that depend on human interaction. Hackers trick their victims into making security mistakes, such as clicking a link, downloading a file, or sharing sensitive information, giving them the opportunity to attack.
There are different social engineering attacks, the most common ones are phishing (an email with a malicious link or file containing the malware), pretexting (impersonating an employee, boss, or vendor to gather sensitive information), and baiting (enticing the victim with an exciting offer in a website, email, etc.).
During 2020 and pandemic days we saw how phishing emails increased. In fact,Symantec reported that phishing attacks occurred in 1 of every 4,200 emails. This number had been decreasing over the past few years, but with the pandemic the trend reverted, making phishing responsible for more than 80% of reported security incidents.
Compromising Internet-Facing Infrastructures
With remote work being the new normal, organizations are facing a new problem: cybercriminals are finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in servers and exposed connections. Any computer, or system that has an IP address is at risk.
In this type of attack, hackers look for internet-facing services and connections to enter an organization remotely. Once they gain access, they take down any security measures and deploy threats to infiltrate and compromise other devices connected to that network in order to gain access to sensitive data. On top of that, Varonis reports that on average,17% of all sensitive files of an organization are accessible to all employees. Thismeans that a hacker does not need to target someone from a management role to get the information they want, once they are in they can get it from other employees. This is how risky it is to have a criminal enter into your organization´s network.
Exploiting System Administration Tools
We have seen over the past few years how hackers are taking advantage of legitimate administration tools to run harmful software into their target computer or system. The use of this hacking technique is on the rise as everyday there are more and more IT systems interconnected, making it easier for hackers to access a wider range of tools, organizations´ systems, and reduce their chances of being detected.
How does this happen? Hackers use legitimate admin tools already installed in their target´s computer to achieve their goal. The key part here is that as these are already installed, and in use in the systems, which means that the organization usually does not notice the infection in their system until after the damage has been done. Hackers can go undercover for as long as they want while gathering information about corporate networks, to then carry out their malicious action.
Day to day hackers are looking for even the smallest vulnerability to get into their target’s system, earn access to sensitive data and then use it in their favor. A great way to prevent all this from happening is having constant cybersecurity training for employees, penetration and vulnerability testing, restricting staff privileges and having a secure work from home policy.
When you think of the word hygiene what comes to mind? Taking a bath, brushing your teeth, washing your hands, combing your hair, etc? Cybersecurity needs the same daily care as your body, it needs regular checkups that will help you know if everything is working as it is supposed to.
Cyber hygiene refers to the practices that users of computers and networks take to maintain their system health and improve their online security. These practices, if done regularly, will help conserve the efficiency of your hardware and software, keep your security protocols updated, and neutralize or mitigate cyberattacks.
Humans: The Weakest Link
Long ago were the days where cybersecurity relied solely on the IT Department. Experience has taught us that everyone who uses a computer or device connected to the internet is at risk of becoming the next victim of a cybercrime. In fact, with remote work being the new norm, during 2020 we saw an increase in social engineering attacks, a trend we expect will keep growing this year.
As cybersecurity professionals, part of the job is to educate every member of your organization on the best practices for cybersecurity and help them understand how they play an important role in keeping hackers away. Remember the weakest link in this field is the human factor – 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your organization is. If you have 1, 10, or over 10,000 employees you are still at risk of becoming a victim of cyberattacks. Symantec revealed that the smaller the organization the higher the risk. Statistics demonstrate that businesses who have less than 250 employees are currently those with the highest targeted malicious email rate at 1 in 323.
Common Risks of Not Having a Cyber Hygiene Routine
As we live in an interconnected world, where everyone is constantly using a device connected to the internet, the risks of getting attacked are higher. We have to be more aware of the maintenance each hardware, software or online application needs on a regular basis. If not, we can easily become a victim of hacker, malware or a breach.
The most common risks of not having a cyber hygiene routine include:
Loss of misplacement of data: harddrives and cloud services are especially vulnerable to hackers causing information to be misplaced or even lost forever.
Security breaches: as we mentioned before, social engineering attacks such as phishing, whaling and pretexting are getting more popular and they can lead anyone to reveal sensitive information, grant hackers access to systems, and a reputation crisis.
Out of date software: software vendors constantly offer updates to patch vulnerabilities, not updating them as soon as they come out can make your system more vulnerable to attacks. This also happens with antivirus and other security software.
That being said, not having a security system in place, employees fully trained to spot a suspicious email or website, and constant checkups of your cyber hygiene may cost you your organization’s data, savings, and reputation.
The year 2020 was a challenging year in terms of cybersecurity. Since the pandemic started, the FBI reported a 300% increase in reported cybercrimes, and the cost of data breach is close to $137,000. And 2021 is not going to get easier.
For the past few months, we have been actively participating in career fairs with the US military. We have talked to several active personnel facing the same questions in these events: what is a good next step for me? What type of work can I do once I retire?
Not everyone wants to follow the common path of going into the police force or public services. Most of them are looking for reintegration into civilian life, working for a private company, even if that means spending time catching up and learning new skills.
But what makes it such an attractive option for veterans?
Cybersecurity: a Great Option for Veterans
There are different benefits of having a military background when transitioning to cybersecurity. On one side, your experience gave you a set of skills that makes you an ideal candidate for a cybersecurity job, while on the other, this is a role where you will still be honoring your commitment to serve our country.
1- A way to continue serving our country
Over the past few months, we have seen cities, government offices, and even a city water supply fall victim to cybercrime. So, another way to serve and protect is to work in cybersecurity, this time from a different frontier and fighting different battles. As a cybersecurity professional, you will be in charge of leading a critical mission, with high pay (an entry-level position can earn an estimated $98,000) in a field where there are hundreds or even thousands of opportunities.
2- Employer seek veterans for cybersecurity jobs
Being in the military gave you certain skills and professional qualities that make your profile more attractive than civilians´. The time you served helped you develop key attributes, such as learning agility and problem-solving skills, leadership capabilities, working in high-pressure environments, understanding the risks at stake, and your pursuit of excellence. Remember that a good cybersecurity professional has technical skills and soft-skills that bring a lot of value to the workplace and the relationships with teammates, vendors, and the management team.
3- GI Bill will cover your education
Finances can be a major concern for veterans who are trying to reintegrate into civilian life. One of the biggest benefits of having served our country is that there are many funding options for your education. A significantone is the Post 9/11 GI Bill. If you qualify for the GI Bill, you can get cybersecurity training with zero out-of-pocket investment depending on the months you actively served. At CyberWarrior Academy, we offer a Cybersecurity Bootcamp that in only 6 months will help you learn all the basic concepts of cybersecurity, earn hands-on experience and get four industry-recognized certifications.
Having a military background will open the doors to many opportunities in cybersecurity. Not only your experience serves as a reference of your level of commitment to your country, but it shows that you are used to working under pressure, you are trained to fight your adversaries, you understand and are used to working as part of a team, you are resilient, and you understand the importance of security. If you are considering making the transition to civilian life, don’t hesitate to consider cybersecurity.
Everyday, cybersecurity professionals face the challenge of preventing the inevitable: hackers gaining access to their organization’s network, systems, and data. One single cyber-attack can cost a business its reputation and even drive them to bankruptcy. No wonder why so many professionals are feeling the weight of stress on their shoulders.
The cybersecurity department is usually held responsible for the consequences of other people engaging in risky online behavior. Cybersecurity professionals have so many different responsibilities (creating and implementing cybersecurity plans, constant monitoring and improvement, team training, and more) that can easily turn your passion into cybersecurity burnout.
The good thing is that different techniques can help you prevent workplace fatigue.
1- Identify the Causes of Your Burnout
Not everyone working in this field is overwhelmed by the same things. As humans, we act, think, and feel differently, and work is not the exception. Once you start feeling a disconnection between your drive to be a successful cybersecurity professional and what it’s really happening at work, it’s time to think about the cause.
Perhaps you have been going through a long period of high workload, or maybe you don’t have enough autonomy to make decisions that would benefit the organization’s security protocols. Maybe you don’t feel appreciated by the management team, or you feel that nobody is applying what you teach them in cybersecurity training.
Whatever it is that is bothering you ormaking you feel unappreciated needs to be addressed with the corresponding department. It is time to make some changes to help you perform a better job at protecting and defending your organization from cybercriminals.
2- Compare Your Internal Motivations and the Reality of your Workplace
This is not something that strictly happens to people working in cybersecurity, but it’s common to see how the passion that made you choose this as your area of expertise suddenly doesn’t seem so attractive. Perhaps you chose cybersecurity thinking about the tough battles you would be fighting against hackers but did not spend a second thinking about all the workload you would have to do besides that.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to pause. Give yourself enough time to think and analyze what made you choose cybersecurity and what you are really doing now. How many differences are there?
Also, think about the organization you are working for. Go from the most romantic aspects, such as mission, vision, and values, to the most detailed aspects related to your work. Some questions to help you here are:
Are your organization’s mission, vision, and values aligned with your way of thinking and acting?
Are their objectives aligned with their mission?
How well does your work align with their security objectives?
Do you care about the organization?
3- Spend Time Educating your Organization Workforce
At this point, you already know that in cybersecurity, the weakest link is the human factor. And this might be the main cause of your burnout.
You are probably exhausted from fighting the consequences of someone who clicked on a phishing email, trying to revert the damage and keep the systems up and running. Yet people keep making the same mistakes: clicking suspicious links, downloading attachments from unknown senders, falling victim to the spear of phishing emails.
A great way to ease this situation is by creating a cybersecurity training plan that will teach every member of your organization how to use the Internet and technology safely. Make sure you present this plan to the management team mentioning how often the training will be, how much it will cost versus the estimated cost of getting breached.
4- Talk to Your Managers About Work Schedule Flexibility
Cybersecurity is not a field that sticks to work schedules. As we’ve mentioned in past articles, hackers work around the clock to find vulnerabilities in your systems and gain access to your data and network. As a cybersecurity expert, you are required to spend late nights monitoring and defending your organization and reverting damages. At first, it might be attractive to earn the pay for all those extra hours, but this only turns into exhaustion in the long run.
What you can do to avoid falling into a burnout loophole is talk to your HR manager and negotiate a flexible schedule that gives you a work-life balance without risking your organization’s security. Come up with a plan to suggest how you will handle this flexibility, what it means, and how you can fulfill certain tasks from home.
When you find yourself struggling to do your work or start feeling demotivated, please take time to think and talk about it with someone else, either your HR manager, a specialist, or your teammates. But don’t let this feeling grow. It’s easier to take action and remedy this exhaustion when the first signs start appearing.