How to Become a Cyber Security Consultant
A cyber security consultant is tasked with preventing their clients’ data and network from being breached. There are many different roles in the information security, also known as cybersecurity, area. Some roles are general with a very wide range of responsibilities. Others are highly specialized and only focus on a specific cybersecurity area. Although cybersecurity consultants are typically generalists, they may specialize in one or more areas.
Cyber security consultants may specialize in many different roles. Most will cycle through some of these during their careers. It is also not that unusual that a security consultant fills a few roles at the same time.
Getting Ready For a Cyber Security Consultant Career
There are numerous things you can do to prepare for a career as a cyber security consultant.
● Learn cybersecurity basics – Although you may be most interested in learning how networks can be breached, you should take the time to fully understand all the basics. TechRadar has an interesting article on cybersecurity free online training.
● Learn networking basics – Cyber security consultants have to protect devices and data on a network. To do this, you’ll need an excellent understanding of how networking works.
● Build a lab – You’re not going to acquire the skills you need through only book knowledge. Hands-on experience and experimentation are crucially important. With some training, you should easily be able to acquire the knowledge that you need to build your own lab at home. It is very possible to build a good lab with minimal expense and resources. There are many good ideas available at Infosec Reference.
● Get certified – This can be a bit tricky as there are numerous cybersecurity certifications available and you never know which ones a specific employer will value most. Although there are free courses online for various certifications, the exams themselves tend to be pretty pricey. Many companies will however pay for additional certification and training for their employees. It is much more important to be able to demonstrate cybersecurity skills and knowledge than to obtain certifications. Your skills will likely land you the job, and you can then pursue certification.
What Are Cyber Security Consultants?
Cyber security consultants are information security professionals who have been trained to protect the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of network devices data. There are many different ways in which such protection can be provided. One cybersecurity consultant may specialize in security architecture and design security controls for many clients, while another may be a security administrator that configures and maintains security devices for the company they work for.
Security consultants can work as independent consultants or as employees. Entry-level consultants typically start out by configuring security devices. Those that have many years of experience in advanced roles may do consulting as virtual chief information security officers (vCISO), and help many organizations implement and set a security strategy.
Cybersecurity consultants can be seen as hackers — they don’t have malicious intentions, but are nonetheless hackers in the truest sense of the word. These individuals are very inquisitive and love figuring out how to solve problems by using technology. They are by nature lifelong learners. This is an essential trait for various reasons:
• The ever increasing number of major breaches has resulted in organizations requiring more effective security solutions than ever before.
• Technology changes at a frightful rate, meaning defenses and knowledge need to advance at the same pace. One current example is cloud computing, where a very different approach to security is required than security provided on-premise.
• The security landscape is changing constantly, and threats are becoming more sophisticated. Attackers are also continuously changing the methods they use to breach security.
Cyber Security Consultant Experience and Skills
To be successful as a security consultant, you must have both soft skills and technical skills. It is very tempting to only focus on technical skills while not fully understanding the need for soft skills. To do this would be a mistake!
This list includes soft and technical skills that cyber security consultants typically need. These have been extracted from actual job listings on sites such as Glassdoor and Indeed.
● Excellent organization and documentation skills
● Experience as a project lead, and the ability to maintain schedules and drive to completion
● Must be a persuasive, articulate, and intelligent individual who can effectively advise senior client security leadership
● Excellent presentation, written and oral skills
● Ability to travel to customer’s sites as required
● Should be able to drive security across multiple teams and communicate security-related concepts to a wide range of non-technical and technical staff
● Demonstrated ability to think strategically about technical, product, and business challenges
● Must understand IT infrastructure architecture extremely well
● Adept at understanding the overall threat/security landscape and proposing solutions to mitigate this environment’s risks
● Experience advising customers on architectures that meet industry standards like ISO 27001, PCI DSS, GDPR, and HIPAA
● Security certifications like CISM, CISA, CGEIT, and CISSP
● Strong knowledge of Network Topology, Network Architecture, and OSI Layer 7 Model.
● Experience working with load balancers, firewalls, VPNs, proxies, SSL, IPS, AV inspection, endpoint security tools, SIEM or security monitoring platforms
What Does A Security Consultant Do?
Cyber security consultants fight a never-ending battle against malicious hackers in what can effectively be seen as an arms race.
At the most basic level, security consultants ensure that corporate networks and the internet are safe. They are involved in planning, designing, building, configuring, coding, running, maintaining, and/or monitoring security systems that are aimed at protecting networks and data from being breached.
The actions taken by cyber security consultants make it much more difficult for anyone to gain unauthorized access to network devices or data and to cause harm. The number of ways in which this can be done is almost limitless. They can be grouped into the general categories of response, detection, and prevention. Cyber security consultants who are responsible for prevention may be planning, building, and configuring security controls, while those handling response and detection generally monitor and code.
In one example a security architect is responsible for handling prevention. Imagine a scenario where a company suffered a major data breach. The hackers accessed the system via an administrator account that only used a username and password and had been compromised. The security architect’s responsibility is to prevent that and other types of attacks in the future.
The first step would be to assess existing security controls and design new controls that would likely be more effective. An obvious first change would be to implement multifactor authentication for administrator accounts. This means that more than only a username and password will be needed to access those accounts. That would have prevented the attack the company had experienced.
On the other hand, a security administrator works on detection. They configure security monitoring aimed at detecting suspicious attempts to access a system. They also assist with prevention by configuring the firewall with stricter access rules. Cyber security consultants can have many different roles and one person can be responsible for several of them at the same time.
Cyber Security Consultant Jobs
We have seen that a security consultant’s roles will be very different from one specific job to another. This means that job descriptions will also vary greatly. There are however various elements that appear in many different job descriptions. Let’s analyze a job description that Amazon Web Services posted on Indeed for a Senior Security Consultant.
● The position is for a subject matter expert that is highly technical and is able to dive deep and work with customers to address the compliance, risk, and security needs of their migrations to AWS.
Being a subject matter expert means that you have much better than average knowledge in a specific area. You will however also need general networking knowledge, as well as a breadth of knowledge across numerous security topics.
● 3+ years of experience with security and compliance standards
Standards and compliance are a very big part of cyber security. Security controls most often have to comply with standards such as ISO 27001, PCI DSS, GDPR, or HIPAA. Security consultants should be very familiar with these and other standards.
● Technical degree or equivalent experience
Some jobs will require you to have a degree while others don’t. Applicants should in both cases be able to demonstrate the skills and knowledge gained with experience.
● Consultants must be able to travel to client locations to provide professional services as required (between 50% and 75%).
There is some travel involved in most consultant jobs. You need to decide upfront how much travel is acceptable to you and ensure you understand what any given job’s expectations are.
● You should be passionate about training, educating, building, and designing cloud solutions for a challenging and diverse set of intelligence community customers. You will relish developing new technical skills keeping your existing ones honed, so you can make a strong contribution to deep architecture discussions.
Knowledge and technical skills are simply not enough. It is a collaborative effort to be part of a security team. Learning from others and sharing your knowledge is one of the best ways to succeed.
● Experience in software/technology sales consulting or equivalent skills.
Many security consultants support sales of the company’s security services and products.
● Deep understanding of Cloud Computing migration challenges and technologies. Professional experience operating, deploying, and architecting AWS solutions.
AWS is Amazon’s cloud computing environment, so it is to be expected that you’ll need an understanding of this area. Some knowledge in this area is however expected for most cybersecurity jobs due to the rate at which cloud computing is being adopted by organizations.
Computers are already a big part of people’s everyday lives in today’s modern and digital world. Many businesses use digital technology in their daily operations. However, hackers pose potential threats to data security. With that, many jobs are in demand in the cybersecurity field. Among these jobs is a security consultant. Do you want to know more about this job position? Read more.
What is a (cyber) security consultant?
A cybersecurity consultant has different roles in the cyber security world. They can be a defender and attacker in computer systems, software, network and security applications. They figure out weaknesses and formulate solutions to enhance security systems to avoid hackers exploiting vulnerabilities.
With the rise of security threats pose by hackers, the demand for cybersecurity consultants increase. Cyber security consultants are responsible for protecting computers and clients’ data from unauthorised access.
Responsibilities of cyber security consultants
If you work in the security consulting field, you need to fulfil the following responsibilities:
- Develop robust strategies to protect cloud computing infrastructure, computer security, data, networking infrastructure, and information systems from cyber-attacks.
- Offer professional guidance and suggestions about information security to the IT team.
- Routinely performing system checks, threat analysis and security tests.
- Updating and defining cybersecurity criteria and validation processes.
- Security consultants also estimate costs and categorise integration problems for IT project teams.
Generally, cybersecurity consultant is among the top five most in-demand cybersecurity jobs in the world. The typical day for this cybersecurity job involves the implementation of protocols, new equipment or procedures.
One of the most critical tasks of security consultants is assessing security risks and cyber-attack management as they arise. You may also create technical reports and conduct security education and training opportunities.
Why is a cybersecurity consultant job position important?
With the continuous rise of security risks from hackers, organisations’ private data is at stake. That’s why security consultant professionals are essential in the industry. They provide the best recommendations and solutions to organisations to enhance protection and safety measures against threats.
Security consultants are also hackers, but not malicious hackers. The job position helps organisations and individuals to protect their data from cybersecurity attacks, including the following:
Hackers use spoofing strategies to trick you into offering details to an unauthorised person.
This threat is the unauthorised use and compromise of a system or technology.
It is carried out through text (SMS) messages.
Like the phishing attempts, it happens on phones.
It is the malicious code that threat actors installed on your computer. Then, you will be redirected to websites that are not legit.
Security consultants may work with other cybersecurity attacks include:
- IoT attacks.
- More sophisticated phishing.
- State-sponsored attacks.
- Cyber-physical attacks.
- Evolving ransomware techniques.
- Threats against electronic medical records and smart medical devices.
In addition, you may also handle security problems like vulnerabilities with semi-autonomous vehicles and connected cars and risks on granting system access to third parties.
A security consultant has a significant role in protecting many organisations and companies from different industries. They are beneficial for the data protection of retail businesses, banking, hospitality, healthcare and other industries. You can also provide different companies with excellent security consulting services.
Security consultants help to enhance the security and protection of business data. With this, organisations can operate successfully without worrying about security issues.
What does a (cyber) security consultant do?
A cyber security consultant helps client organisations to get enhanced security solutions to keep their data protected and free against the risk of cyber-attacks and other related issues. As a cybersecurity consultant, you will be responsible for different organisational evaluating problems, risks and offer solutions for internet security problems.
Since security risks continue to grow in the cyber security field, many companies hire professional security consultants to improve their security operations. Successful security consultants know about regulatory compliance and corporate security policies to ensure that they can be efficient information security consultants for organisations and companies. If you want to discover how to become a security consultant, read more.
What Technical skills are required
If you want to be a successful cybersecurity professional, you need to acquire the following technical skills.
Firewall safety and management
You should know fail-safe, backup features and detecting security breaches. It is also essential to avoid protocols.
A security consultant is responsible for measuring the vulnerability rating of software and cyber programs that organisations use.
Advanced persistent threat management
Security consultants should be knowledgeable about advanced threat management like phishing, network access control and social engineering.
Knowledge of different operating systems
A security consultant needs to be familiar with operating programs like UNIX, Linus, Windows and other systems.
Most security consultants are familiar with encryption techniques. With this, you can send and receive data on the internet without being vulnerable to hacking attacks.
Coding practices and ethical hacking
As a security consultant, you should be a certified ethical hacker. You need to be familiar with threat configuration and modelling.
Programming languages used for raw data processing and storage
It is an advantage if you’re familiar with different programming languages to enhance security operations.
An information security consultant must also have technical skills including SIEM management, analytics & intelligence, audit & compliance, security incident handling & response, intrusion detection and mobile device management. It is also essential to know about advanced malware prevention and application security development.
It is also good if you have skills in Oracle, Python, surveillance, prevention of criminal activity, asset protection, information systems and more.
With these skills, you can effectively protect consumer data. You can also develop robust management techniques for enhanced security measures against cyber threats. If you know how to become a security consultant, you can also unlock opportunities for other cybersecurity careers.
What Soft skills are required
If you want to be a successful security consultant, you must have the following soft skills. These are essential skills that can help increase consumer confidence while working with cybersecurity professionals.
A security consultant may work with multiple clients, so it is essential to have excellent communication skills. Since cybersecurity is an obscure matter for people, you should know how to communicate security-related concepts to your team and clients.
Security consultants should also have leadership abilities to establish efficient security teams. Different people will report to you and ask for your guidance if there are security issues. So, it is necessary to be a good leader for improved security management. It is a bonus if you have self-direction, extraordinary dedication, adaptability, creativity, teamwork, and work ethic.
Cyber security is a highly specialised field; most countries have homeland security and created their cyber laws and contracts. They even have an international association with certified information systems security professionals to maintain security. Security consultants need to be familiar with these rules to enhance security systems.
Security consultants need to have skills in problem-solving to handle security issues efficiently. You should know how to formulate a security strategy to establish robust security foundations for your clients.
Other soft skills required to be an efficient security consultant include excellent organisation and documentation, project lead experience, and outstanding written, oral and presentation skills.
What qualifications are required
In the cyber security industry, there are many qualifications to be a certified security consultant. These may include your educational programs and professional experience. It is also essential if you pursue certification for security-related concepts.
Educational background for security consultants
Aspiring security consultants need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, cybersecurity or IT. If possible, it is also an advantage to have a master’s degree. With this education, you can learn about security management. Additionally, you can convince your client companies that you’re a certified protection professional who can protect their data from security threats.
Work experience for cybersecurity consultants
Keep in mind that cybersecurity is a highly specialised industry, so you should know cyber law and experience in the latest security measures. There is no exact career path for security consultants, but it is advantageous to have working experience of about 2 or 3 years in the industry.
It can be a plus if you work as a security engineer, security administrator or certified information security manager. Security consultants can perform different cybersecurity jobs, including accredited information systems auditor, network security consultant, security architect, chief information security officer and computer security consultant.
With your experience in the field, you can also take other cybersecurity exciting careers like penetration tester, system administrator, cybersecurity analyst, cybersecurity specialist, security auditor and more.
Certifications for security consultants
If you’re an aspiring security consultant, you should have certifications to achieve your cybersecurity career goals. Some of the top certifications you can take are:
GIAC/ SANS Certification
Certified Information Systems Security Professional
Information Systems Certification
Certified Information Security Manager
Certified Information Systems Auditor
If you have the qualifications to be a professional security consultant, you may provide efficient security consulting services to help your clients and organisations establish better computer security.
Being a cybersecurity consultant is a serious job. With this, you should take your responsibilities with dedication and concentration. Thus, your position is essential for the success of your clients.
What is the average salary for a (cyber) security consultant in the UK
The cybersecurity professional salary in the United Kingdom is about £47,495 per year. However, the average salary for security consultants can depend on their experience and responsibilities.
You can achieve a higher security consultant salary if you independently have different security consultant roles with client companies. In addition, your salary can also depend on the company you’re working with. Examples of companies that hire cybersecurity consultants are Microsoft, Amazon and Amazon Web Services, IBM, Verizon, Walt Disney Studios, Accenture, Garmin, Zoom, Booz Allen Hamilton and more.
Your security consultant salary can also be determined by your location, performance, certifications and experience in the industry.
With the help of this post, we hope you already learned how to become a cybersecurity consultant. To sum it up, you need the right skills and qualifications to become a security consultant. It would help if you also had a bachelor’s degree in the field of cybersecurity, computer science or IT. A security consultant has an essential role in protecting professional organisations from security risks. With this, you also need to be dedicated to performing your job in the best possible way.
Cybersecurity jobs are still in demand globally because of rising cyber-attacks and security threats in the industry. Do you want to pursue your career as a cyber security consultant? If yes, it’s time to hone your skills and qualifications for the position. What are you waiting for? Be one of the successful security consultants today!