How to Become a Security Researcher

in Cybersecurity
How to Become a Security Researcher

A security researcher investigates security vulnerabilities in applications, websites, hardware, and internet protocols. As security threats evolve, more and more organizations are hiring security researchers to boost their security and their awareness of cybersecurity matters. 

In this guide, you will find out what security research entails and how to become a security researcher. 

What is Security Research?

Data helps organizations to make informed decisions. This is what makes security research important. As a result, a security researcher will spend hours reading news, academic journals, and listening to relevant podcasts about cybersecurity trends. 

But first, a security researcher has to decide what is worth researching since research is time-consuming. Additionally, you need to know when the research is complete so that you can publish your findings and move on to the next research task.

Security research encompasses discovering new things, raising awareness, and putting misconceptions to rest.

How to Become a Security Researcher

Security Researcher

To become a security researcher, you need a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Network Systems or IT. Some security researchers begin by working in an IT security team or as software developers.

If you are a professional in the IT sector and you are interested in security research, you should take these steps:

  • Start learning on your own: based on what you learn during the research phase, start filling the knowledge gaps. For instance, security researchers should know programming languages like Python, Ruby, C, and C++. So, if you are not familiar with one of these languages, teach yourself. You could also learn assembly programming, web developing, steganography, Linux, cryptography, and hacking techniques. 
  • Specialize in a specific field: since there is so much to learn, it will be easier to study what most interests you. For example, if you want to specialize in vulnerability research, learn how to reverse malware and all the other relevant subjects in this field.
  • Use tools to practice: the best way to learn is through practice. Play around with software as much as you can.
  • Advance your studies: you can enroll for a master’s degree in cybersecurity then advance to a Ph.D. This is important if you want to publish authoritative journals on security research.
  • Stay up to date with cybersecurity trends: you should not wait to get hired to become a security researcher. Assuming that this is a field you are passionate about, carrying out your own security research should come naturally.

Roles and Responsibilities

Some of the roles and responsibilities of a security researcher include:

  • Creating hypotheses, new methods, and techniques to solve cybersecurity issues
  • Reverse engineering malware
  • Helping the company to become more aware of cybersecurity
  • Leading technical projects and teams
  • Conducting tests on protocols, hardware, and security controls
  • Writing reports and presenting findings of your research to relevant board members or teams
  • Researching the feasibility of proposed security products and services

Improving cybersecurity is a team effort. Therefore, being a team player is an essential skill. Also, your employer could ask you to handle other cybersecurity roles like penetration testing. This means that you should acquire a diverse set of cybersecurity skills. 

How to Become a Penetration Tester

in Cybersecurity
How to Become a Penetration Tester

You are probably reading this because you want to become a pentester. But what do you need to obtain this well-paying cybersecurity job? In this guide, you will learn how to become a penetration tester and what qualifications you need. 

What is Penetration Testing?

Hackers are always looking for new ways to exploit systems and networks. Even the most secure organizations are usually not that secure. This is where penetration testing – also known as pentesting – comes in!

A penetration tester executes an ethical hack to exploit the vulnerabilities of a system to find out if an attack is possible. The results of this simulated attack are then used to increase the system’s security. Therefore, a penetration tester has to think like an attacker to improve an organization’s security.

A pentester earns between $75,000 and $130,000 a year.

How to Become a Penetration Tester

penetration tester

Most people begin their journeys in other IT-related jobs such as programming and system administration and later take a certified course in pentesting. This means that you should take Computer Science or IT degree courses that have some cybersecurity programs. Also, you need a good understanding of coding, networks, and operating systems to become a pentester. 

However, some ethical hackers are self-taught pentesters or reformed criminal hackers that now want to use their skills for good.

If you are already in the cybersecurity field, follow these steps to become a pentester.

  • Do your research: read as much as you can on penetration testing and cybersecurity to understand the subjects better. Since you need prerequisite knowledge in networks, hardware, databases, and data analysis, refresh your memory if you need to.
  • Get practical: practice what you have learned by using penetration toolkits like Security Onion. This toolkit offers tools to help you practice pentesting on your own. Also, familiarize yourself with the Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES) and OWASP.
  • Get certified: take certification courses in penetration testing, ethical hacking, networking, and security. These certificates will increase your employment chances.
  • Look for a pentesting job: as a penetration tester, you can work within an organization or as a consultant.

Roles of a Pentester

When you get a job as a penetration tester, you can expect to take up the tasks below.

  • Testing networks and applications: this entails running simulation attacks and keeping existing tests up to date. Employers will also expect you to know how to apply penetration testing tools.
  • Testing physical security: your new role will include checking that servers can withstand non-cyber threats such as vandalism and climate effects. 
  • Carrying out security audits: this is another important role for every pentester. Your organization will expect you to examine networks and systems and write audit reports.
  • Writing security reports: you will have to write security reports with metrics and strategies to show your test results and recommendations.
  • Participate in security policy reviews: you will work with the larger security team in handling security policy reviews.

Your role as a pentester will involve reporting your findings and recommendations. Therefore, you need good communication and presentation skills to carry out this role effectively. Project management, problem-solving, and people management skills will also come in handy. 

Top 5 Cybersecurity Careers That Pay Well in 2020

in Cybersecurity
cybersecurity careers

The rise in cybercrimes and security breaches around the world have increased the need for cybersecurity experts. As a result, cybersecurity careers have become one of the most lucrative professional paths in today’s marketplace.

In this guide, you will find a list of high-paying cybersecurity careers you could move into in 2020.

Lucrative Cybersecurity Careers

The following are some of the highest-paid cybersecurity jobs in 2020.

Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs)

As far as cybersecurity is concerned, chief information security officers have a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders. Most companies now store important records and valuable data online. Hence, the need to ensure there are no security loopholes.

Chief information security officers inspect and confirm that the security framework for the organization is up-to-date and reliable.

In 2020, many employers are ready to pay huge sums to persons who can effectively carry out these duties. Te pay usually depends on the specific job description stated by the employer. However, CISOs would usually receive between $185,000 – $500,000 per annum.

Cybersecurity Systems Engineer

Cybersecurity systems engineering is another well-paid cybersecurity career path. A cybersecurity systems engineer has the responsibility of designing, developing, and installing security features and networks that can block off cyber attacks and online security threats.

With enough experience as a systems engineer, you develop specific transferrable skills. These skills can help you begin a career in cybersecurity engineer, security architect, cybersecurity analyst, and related career paths. Once you’ve got what it takes to do the job well, you’re likely to have many clients coming to you.

Their salaries are between $115,000 and $200,000.

Ethical Hacking (also known as Penetration Testing)

Companies with valuable data would stop at nothing to ensure that their information is safe. One of the ways to test the susceptibility of an online network to cyber thieves is to carry out several vulnerability tests.

The penetration tester carries out a thorough test of the entire framework and sees whether there are any features or modules that can be breached.

After successfully going through the training and becoming an ethical hacker, you could be earning around $75,000 to $130,000.

Cybersecurity Consultants

Cybersecurity consultants have multifaceted job descriptions and are one of the most potentially lucrative cybersecurity careers. Essentially, they carry out assessments of individual cybersecurity structures and compare them to benchmarks. They also give recommendations on the best line of action to take, in cases of existing or possible cybersecurity threats.

This consultant should be able to communicate cybersecurity ideas in a way clients and other professionals can understand and execute. Asides from communicating ideas, a cybersecurity consultant should be able to produce useful cybersecurity modules like data encryption and firewalls.

Cybersecurity consultants get paid between $81,000 and $120,000.

Software Security Engineer

The services of a software application security engineer are critical to companies that are primarily technology-based. The software security engineer basically would ensure that the applications consistently follow the latest security and privacy protocols.

If companies continue to build internet-based applications (which would most likely be), then more professionals in this niche are a necessity. Currently, a software security engineer takes home between $119,000 and $180,000.

Today, there are several opportunities for qualified individuals who take up any of the above-listed cybersecurity careers.

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