UK businesses are facing more threats than ever aimed at their IT networks. As one of the world’s most advanced digital economies, organisations throughout the country have become tempting targets for a wide range of bad actors, from hostile nation states to organised criminal gangs.

Therefore, it has become imperative for enterprises to invest in the right tools and skills to protect their computer systems, communications networks and critical data from these threats, and this means there is huge demand for people with advanced cyber security skills.

The importance of cyber security

The UK government now considers cyber threats to be as big a priority as global terrorism, international military crises and natural disasters.

In the 12 months to October 2019, the National Cyber Security Centre reported it had defended the UK from 658 incidents, taking the total number of threats it dealt with since its founding in 2016 to almost 1,800. It also noted that a “significant number” of these had originated from hostile nation states.

As well as these actors, cyber security professionals are needed to guard against threats including hacktivism, ransomware, the theft of data such as personal information or trade secrets, and disruptions to critical infrastructure.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 also showed around a third of businesses (32 per cent) were targeted by cyber attacks in the previous year, with 48 per cent of these experiencing at least one such incident per month. These can end up costing businesses thousands of pounds and prevent staff from carrying out their day-to-day work.

What jobs are available?

The result of this is that professionals with the right skills and clearances to combat these threats are in high demand among employers. However, there remains a significant shortage of personnel with these attributes.

According to 2019 figures from (ISC)², almost two-thirds of organisations around the world (65 per cent) say they have a shortage of cyber security staff, and this is a problem that’s particularly acute in the UK. While (ISC)² found there are around 289,000 people working in cyber security in the UK, TechUK estimates that employer demand is outpacing candidate interest by more than three times.

Therefore, there are huge opportunities for candidates who can demonstrate they have the skills and experience necessary to keep organisations safe from today’s rapidly-evolving threats, with firms in critical industries such as utilities, defence, finance and transportation especially keen to attract the best talent.

As a result, professionals looking for cyber security jobs can expect to be well-compensated – especially those who have relevant security certifications and clearances to work in the most sensitive environments.

Common roles for those with cyber security skills include:

Security operations
Security administration
Risk management
Software development
Penetration testing
The skills employers need

There are a wide range of skills and certifications businesses are looking for in these staff, while those who already have key security clearances will be especially in-demand for employers in sensitive industries such as nuclear and defence.

Skills such as penetration testing, intrusion detection, DevSecOps and cloud security are among the key attributes for any cyber security professional. However, knowledge of areas including AI, blockchain security, IoT and regulations such as GDPR are all growing in importance.

According to (ISC)², the most common security certifications held by people working in this sector are:

CISSP with concentration
CCNA Security
CCNP Security

Cyber security is an exciting and dynamic field in which to work. To find the role that’s right for you, please register your details here. You will be able to search for the latest jobs and set up Job Alerts to be emailed to you on a daily basis.