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Skills you need to succeed in cybersecurity

December 30, 2021
A cybersecurity analyst works on a laptop at a data center

Cyberattacks have been on the rise in recent years and the need for cybersecurity skills has become highly sought after by small businesses and large corporations alike. Cybercrime has increased by nearly 600% since 2020 with millions of attacks happening every day1. Cybercrime can affect businesses in a variety of ways including security breaches that seek to obtain private information, infecting a network with malware or using ransomware to deny access to vital data until they are paid. Whatever form the attack comes in, it can cause massive disruptions to any business and potentially result in devastating harm.

Also due to so many businesses now heavily relying on online devices for the day-to-day workings of their company, the need for professionals with cybersecurity skills is at an all-time high. Read on to learn how to work in cybersecurity and what skills you need to get into this lucrative career.

Cybersecurity Skills

The necessary cybersecurity attributes2 involve not only having the technical knowledge to get the job done but also having the ability to communicate with a variety of individuals. Strong attention to detail and the desire to tackle and overcome any problem are desirable, too. Many skills require technical know-how, but the soft skills required to work within a team environment are just as important to potential employers. Highlighted below are a few key cybersecurity skills you should acquire to put on your resume for cybersecurity engineer.

IT Systems, Networks and Languages

A diverse background in IT can get you on the right track for a career in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity professionals should have a good understanding of applications and operating systems. Once you can grasp how to configure, run and maintain network infrastructure, you will be better equipped to protect them against potential threats.

Networking technology is also key to learn since many businesses use it on a daily basis. It would be beneficial to learn how to create and maintain systems for local area networks (LAN), virtual private networks (VPN) and wide area networks (WAN).

Programming languages are also a vital part of cybersecurity and can come in handy when fighting off security threats. Gaining knowledge about the more common programming languages used in software development such as Java, Python, and C++ can give you a strong basis to work from when setting up security for a business.

Troubleshooting and Problem-Solving

Once you have acquired the knowledge behind the systems you will be protecting, you need to put that information to work. This involves plenty of practice problem-solving security challenges to achieve consistent results. As a cybersecurity professional, your job will not only be to prevent harm but also to solve the issues that no doubt will arise from the millions of hackers constantly trying to breach businesses networks. Troubleshooting and problem-solving are essential for professionals who need to thwart these attacks.

Analyze, Research, and Implement

Information security analyst skills include being able to take in the information provided by the established system, identify and detect any potential threats, and then use technical knowledge to prevent current and future attacks. This requires strong attention to detail in order to recognize weaknesses in a database and then set up security controls to protect the architecture of the network or system. A cybersecurity professional needs to be able to analyze data, do any necessary research to understand the threat, and then implement that information quickly to secure the system as soon as possible.

Learn How to Hack

Sometimes in order to prevent a hacker, you need to become a hacker. Ethical hacking involves learning exactly how systems, networks, or applications are breached—and then using that knowledge to understand how to stop them in the future. Once you know the techniques someone is using to break through your firewalls or other security measures, you will be well-equipped to prevent them from penetrating further.

Learning how to hack helps you understand the routes attackers take within systems and enables you to predict their next steps—and stop them in their tracks. It can also give you a deeper understanding of the thought process and the methods a cybercriminal uses, which will give you an advantage when trying to prevent them from entering a business’s system.


A soft skill that is absolutely vital to know how to work in cybersecurity is communication. Many IT specialists work the majority of the time on their own or with other professionals in their field. However, there will be times you will have to communicate with an employer, C-Suite executives, customers, or others without a technical background. The skills needed to converse with these individuals include active listening, clear explanations of complex concepts and excellent presentation abilities.

You may need to explain an issue that has occurred within the network or oversee the training of other employees in the protection of their personal information. Cybersecurity measures include unique passwords and firewalls that an unsuspecting individual may inadvertently allow a hacker to access.

In addition, your job may entail presenting information to a team of your co-workers or management explaining the potential dangers of cybercriminals and how to prevent them from attacking the business. This will no doubt require good communication skills on your part for them to both understand and follow through with the instruction you provide.

Are You Ready to Boost Your Cybersecurity Skills?

If you are considering a career in cybersecurity, you probably already possess some of the skills noted above. You may be inclined towards technological work, enjoy researching and solving problems, and be interested in expanding your knowledge by learning more about cybersecurity. With the damage caused by cybercrime projected to reach $6 trillion annually in 20213, businesses need more cybersecurity specialists.

A career in cybersecurity starts with improving your ability to work and communicate well with others and educating yourself with the technical skills employers are looking for. Earning an M.S. in Computer and Information Science can set you on the right path to building the real-world skills a cybersecurity professional needs. Marquette University’s online information technology master’s degree program can teach you all you need to break into this ever-evolving and lucrative industry. Start your application today.