Cybersecurity is a growing industry. In the UK alone, the sector is now worth £8.3 billion — and climbing. Despite this, the UK has a serious cybersecurity skills gap. According to a recent survey 653,000 British businesses — 48% of UK firms — say they don’t have the skills they need to perform even basic cybersecurity tasks.

Cybersecurity offers a very wide range of roles, many of which are highly skilled, involve challenging and interesting work, and are well paid. The average UK cybersecurity professional earns £62,500 a year. That’s more than twice the national average wage.

Despite the obvious perks of these roles, there is a deficiency of people moving into this arena. In fact, people aren’t even learning the skills and gaining the qualifications they’ll need to get these jobs. The number of UK pupils taking computer science as a school subject fell by 45% last year.

This is despite the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the rate of digital transformation by over five years. Businesses are digitising everything from internal infrastructure, which has in almost one swoop been migrated to the cloud, through payment and checkout to core business decision-making functions.

And if they digitise it, they’ll have to secure it. That means we should expect a huge increase in the demand for cybersecurity professionals in the next few years: just at a time when the supply appears to be more constrained than ever. For individuals who do have the right skills and qualifications, the implications are obvious: they are about to be in even more of a seller’s market than the one we have seen over the last decade.

Roles within cybersecurity include:

  • Computer forensics: uses the principals of forensics to find and analyse evidence of digital crimes, with the goal of closing security gaps and tracking down cybercriminals
  • Information security analyst: plans and executes an organisation’s security strategy and its response to any breach or attack.
  • Penetration tester: someone who is paid to “hack” into a network or application to test its security.
  • Risk analyst: analyses the nature of threats facing an organisation and their likely impact on the organisation as a basis for setting priorities, strategies and spending.
  • Security engineer: a highly technical role, responsible for taking input from strategic functions and turning them into a functioning suite of security technologies and protocols.

Someone who starts as a network security engineer in 2021, has no reason to think they will still be in the same role within a few years. The UK, for instance, is an international centre of excellence in the threat-intelligence segment of the cybersecurity industry.

If you monitor cybersecurity news, you’ll often hear that someone has identified a new advanced persistent threat (APT) — usually a hacker collective based outside the UK — and announced it to the press. That work was done by threat-intelligence analysts, who follow digital-forensic clues to hunt down the hackers and identify them.

They are the people who do the detective work of finding the traces of the cybercrime and then tracking down the group or individuals involved. Sometimes, this search may lead not just to IP addresses and the forensic fingerprints that tell researchers they’re dealing with an organised and coherent group. Sometimes, the search even leads to named individuals, whom the threat-intelligence specialists can track and identify from the digital traces they left behind.

Working in cybersecurity, whether you’re a front-line network engineer or a threat-intelligence specialist, is one of the most exciting, rewarding and well-paid careers open to young people and career-switchers today. With the right skills, given the massive demand for new recruits, job hunters’ prospects in this sector are very good indeed. The Computer Science online MSc at the University of Bath equips its graduates with exactly the skills that the market is looking for.

Find out more about doing a Computer Science online MSc at the University of Bath by requesting information using the form below and a member of our team will be in touch.

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