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I Want That Job!: Cybersecurity specialist

Protecting our data has become even more critical in 2020
By Laura Aka
September 1, 2021

Last year saw a marked increase in scams due to COVID-19. The FBI notes there has been “a wave of criminals seeking to prey upon an anxious public.”

Additionally, with many more people working remotely—cybercrime has had more potential targets—all of whom are more dependent on digital tools. Businesses need to be aware of these threats, but also develop a strong cybersecurity culture.

These are challenges facing people working in cybersecurity. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, there is not enough talent to fill the available positions.

Safeguarding Your Network

What do security specialists do? They provide support services for companies with their internal technology assets. They seek out cyber threats or weaknesses in businesses’ security, while helping companies upgrade systems. They usually assist other colleagues – like a security architect or engineer.

Molly Elise Young is a cybersecurity specialist II with Akamai Technologies—based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She says, “Cybersecurity is making sure that a life lived online is lived online securely. So only the people who should have access to your information or your activities online have that access. It is available and secure no matter what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

Young tells WorkingNation that her responsibilities are varied. “In general, I get to do a lot of research. I do a lot of creative problem-solving. I work with people a lot, either working with our engineers or our assessors, our stakeholders to make sure that everybody is on the same page and whatever questions they have are being answered.”

Young continues, “So one of the pieces I do is help people understand what tools and resources are there for them to use. Then I help them apply those in a way that’s most efficient and makes everybody’s lives less complicated in the process.”

Typically, security specialists have an understanding of antivirus software, software design, hardware architecture, and tools that identify security issues. Young adds, “It’s really important to have a basic understanding of how certain code languages work.”

Transferable Skills are Valuable in Cybersecurity

According to Young, transferable skills landed her a job in cybersecurity. “Traditionally, cybersecurity is looking for a bachelor of science and computer science. However, a lot of people who work in cybersecurity are like me. They’re career changers. I come from an education background. I have colleagues who have come from backgrounds in sales, in library sciences, in mathematics. It’s really the kind of field where there is a spot for everyone no matter what you’re interested in or what you’re good at or what your experience is. There’s a spot for you in cybersecurity.”

She also says people interested in working in cybersecurity should explore the learning resources that are available. “Do a lot of independent learning. There are many opportunities online for free courses or  free textbooks on cybersecurity, security threats, security protections, networks, system hardening, those kinds of topics.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage of an information security analyst is $104,120.

Young says what she does is helping, not only Akamai clients, but people in her own life. “The most rewarding thing about what I do is knowing that the internet is a better place because of the work I’m doing. It’s a safer place for my mom to go online and talk to my sister. It’s a safer place for my grandfather to do his online banking. It’s a safer place for me to keep in touch with friends.”

Watch all the I Want That Job! videos here.

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