Finding the Cybersecurity Job You Want
DEC 07, 2018 19:42 PM
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Finding the Cybersecurity Job You Want

by Lori Cameron
 
The proliferation of cloud computing, smartphone technology, big data, and the Internet of Things has pushed the importance of cybersecurity to the forefront of the computing profession. Finding jobs in cybersecurity is the focus of this month’s careers article, which features an interview with Massimo Felici, a research engineer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who co-authored the article “What's New in the Economics of Cybersecurity” in the May/June 2016 issue of IEEE Security & Privacy. His research interests and professional experiences are concerned with supporting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) deployments, validating engineering methodologies and understanding technological complexities throughout development life cycles and in different application domains.
 
ComputingEdge: What careers in computer and cybersecurity will see the most growth in the next several years?
 
Felici: Looking at technological trends would help us understand the types of skills that will be in demand by industries. Currently, organizations are experiencing a convergence of different technologies across industrial domains. Among the main technological mega trends are cloud computing and containerization, big data and analytics, networking and virtualization, and the Internet of Things. These technological trends are driving the digital transformation across industries. Furthermore, organizations rely more and more on different technologies, both private and public, in order to make them effective in dealing with emerging stakeholder requirements. Emergent technological ecosystems are therefore characterized by hybrid Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions that require flexibility in order to make organizations resilient within competitive and fast-changing markets. Alongside the benefits of the digital transformation, cybersecurity is a key concern as well as a market differentiator. It is therefore foreseeable that there will be an increasing demand for skills (e.g. automating digital infrastructures, drawing insights from big data analytics, managing edge points in hybrid ecosystems) that enable cybersecurity within emerging technologies and their adoption across industries. 
 
ComputingEdge: What advice would you give college students to give them an advantage over the competition?
 
Felici: The increasing complexity involved in the digital transformation requires innovative solutions addressing different types of problems (from automation and implementation to drawing analytical insights for decision making). This is particularly true for cybersecurity. Industry forecasts highlight that each organization will need to protect an increasing amount of data and deal with further technological complexity with limited resources. Developing problem-solving skills is required in order to identify innovative solutions, which need to be grounded on foundational work and developed quickly to assess any potential impact. Therefore, it is necessary to acquire skills combining foundational subjects (e.g. algorithms, data structures, probability theory), methodologies (e.g. machine learning, statistical analysis), engineering practices (e.g. testing, group work), and technologies (e.g. cloud computing platforms, programming languages, implementation and analytical frameworks). Furthermore, it is necessary to understand how such skills address emerging issues in the digital transformation.
 
ComputingEdge: What advice would you give people changing careers midstream?
 
Felici: Cybersecurity involves different disciplines and expertise. It is useful to understand how skills and expertise developed might be relevant for the problems concerned with cybersecurity. For example, at the operational level, cybersecurity needs to mitigate emerging risks in complex technological ecosystems. The identification of threats and their risk assessment require a combination of multidisciplinary skills and expertise, which may be acquired and transferred from experiences in other industries. Furthermore, new areas of interest are also becoming important such as assurance and insurance. Organizations implement cybersecurity strategies combining different solutions (e.g. technological solutions as well as insurance mechanisms). Such cybersecurity strategies require skills and expertise beyond any single discipline. In other words, they require diverse experiences. This is also emphasized in research communities that are concerned with multidisciplinary perspectives such as, for example, the economics of cybersecurity. There is an increasing need for innovations that take into account sociological and behavioral aspects of cybersecurity. Within disciplines concerned with human computer interaction (HCI), it is necessary to identify innovative solutions helping people to use computers securely and to adopt secure processes (security as a process). Individuals need improved tools to manage and interpret security information so they can make informed decisions about risk and decide whether or not a security issue has arisen. The relationship between security and privacy (data protection), for example, points out different situations where organizations need to address compliance with legal requirements (e.g. cross-border data transfer, data location restriction, data retention period) and individuals need to be equipped in order to increase their security (privacy) awareness. These are just few examples of problems that highlight the wide range of skills and expertise needed in cybersecurity.
 
ComputingEdge:What do you consider to be the best strategies for professional networking?
 
Felici: Engage with professional communities in order to identify what are the kinds (e.g. technological, operational) of problems that concern specific groups. This is useful to understand how your skills and expertise relate to professional environments and practices. Do not be afraid of presenting your work and ideas to others. Any feedback would be useful in order to improve your work and to position yourself within professional networks. There is no single solution addressing any problem faced in cybersecurity; therefore, it is necessary to develop collaborative attitudes, which help refine ideas and identify new ones. It is necessary to be open in order to progress as individuals and as professionals. At the same time, it is the best way to build relationships within professional communities.
 
ComputingEdge: What should applicants keep in mind when applying for computer and cybersecurity jobs?
 
Felici: Developing a career in any industry or domain is a bumpy journey. Be always prepared to acquire new skills and never stop learning.
 
ComputingEdge’s Lori Cameron interviewed Felici for this article. Contact her at l.cameron@computer.org if you would like to contribute to a future ComputingEdge article on computing careers. Contact Felici at massimo.felici@hpe.com.
 
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