Grey background with woman with glasses smiling in the foreground. Her face is framed by a half rectangle in redWith cyber security taking off, there comes both good and bad news. The bad news is that cyber security attacks are happening more often, with the criminals behind them refining their tactics. The good news is that this creates a high demand for those looking into a cyber security career. The other good news is that defences against attacks are also growing in sophistication and strength. With 2.3 million digital workers needed by 2025, Canada needs cyber security professionals and needs them fast. If you're already working in cyber security or looking to start, there are specific technical and soft skills that you'll need to know.

Five essential technical skills every Cyber Security Analyst needs

1. Network Security

Network security stands as a cornerstone skill for any adept security analyst. In the ever-evolving landscape of information security, protecting an organization's digital assets and sensitive data is paramount. As a cyber professional, mastery of network security allows you to safeguard operating systems and critical infrastructure against potential security breaches. Your expertise in configuring firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), and virtual private networks (VPNs) ensures companies can repel cyber threats and mitigate vulnerabilities that malicious actors could otherwise exploit.

2. Incident Response and Forensics

The role of a security analyst goes beyond merely preventing breaches; it involves the ability to respond to incidents and carry out digital forensics investigations effectively. When security breaches occur, you're called to the frontlines, leveraging your technical skills and experience to swiftly assess and contain the situation. By tracing the origin of an attack, collecting digital evidence, and reconstructing events, you contribute not only to rectifying breaches but also to understanding the methods used by cyber criminals. This knowledge is invaluable in preventing future breaches and strengthening an organization's overall security posture.

3. Application Security and Secure Coding

A well-rounded security analyst is equipped with knowledge of application security and secure coding practices. As companies increasingly rely on software and applications, vulnerabilities within these systems can become gateways for cyber attacks. Adding this skill set allows you to conduct thorough code reviews, identify potential vulnerabilities (such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting), and guide developers on writing secure code. By addressing vulnerabilities at the source, you play a proactive role in preventing security breaches before they occur.

4. Vulnerability Assessment and Penetration Testing

As a cyber security professional proficient in vulnerability assessment and penetration testing, you are a proactive defender of a company's information security. Your technical skills allow you to simulate real-world attacks, probing systems, networks, and applications for weaknesses. By uncovering vulnerabilities and assessing potential points of entry, you'll enable organizations to prioritize remediation efforts effectively. This proactive approach helps companies bolster their defences against cyber threats and minimize the risk of security breaches.

5. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Tools

Staying vigilant against suspicious activity is at the heart of a security analyst's responsibilities. Through the use of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools, you'll monitor and analyze security events across an organization's network and systems. You can swiftly detect signs of unauthorized access, potential breaches, and other cyber threats by correlating logs from various sources. This enables timely response and mitigates the impact of security incidents, contributing to a strong defence against breaches.

In the realm of information security, the demand for skilled cyber security professionals with these technical skills is consistently rising. Companies recognize the critical role that security analysts play in protecting their assets, data, and reputation. By continually learning and honing these essential skills, you'll make yourself more employable while empowering yourself to navigate the complex landscape of cyber security and defend against ever-evolving threats.

Woman holding a laptop and smiling.

Become a Cyber Security Professional in as little as 12 weeks!

Classes start soon and there's room for you.

Sign up Now

What are 3 soft skills that are important to have in cyber security roles?

1. Communication Skills

Effective communication is paramount in a cyber security analyst role. Analysts must convey complex technical information to technical and non-technical stakeholders, such as management, clients, and colleagues. You need to explain security risks, vulnerabilities, and mitigation strategies clearly and concisely, ensuring everyone understands the potential impact and the necessary actions. Strong communication skills facilitate collaboration, teamwork, and the ability to provide timely updates on security incidents.

2. Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking

Cyber security analysts often encounter novel threats requiring quick thinking and innovative problem-solving. As such, you'll need to assess complex situations, analyze data, identify patterns, and devise appropriate solutions to mitigate security risks. Critical thinking will help prioritize tasks, make informed decisions, and adapt to rapidly changing scenarios. It also aids in uncovering vulnerabilities that may not be immediately apparent and crafting effective defence strategies.

3. Ethical and Professional Integrity

Trust is a fundamental aspect of cyber security. Analysts must maintain high ethical and professional integrity to handle sensitive information, respect privacy, and protect confidential data. As a cyber security analyst, you will learn to follow best practices and guidelines, adhere to legal and regulatory standards, and uphold a strong sense of responsibility. This includes reporting incidents accurately, honestly, and transparently, even if the situation is challenging or potentially damaging. Ethical behaviour establishes credibility and fosters a secure environment.

While technical skills are vital in cyber security, these soft skills enhance your effectiveness as a cyber security analyst by promoting clear communication, critical thinking, and ethical behaviour, all of which contribute to a more secure and resilient digital landscape.

What is the most important skill in cyber security?

There is no single most important skill for cyber security professionals. Instead, cyber security analysts should aim to continually learn and improve upon the abovementioned skills, such as network security, SIEM tools, vulnerability assessment, and soft skills like problem-solving and critical thinking. Below are some ways that you can sharpen these skills.

Your guide to developing your cyber security abilities

1. Set Up Your Own Home Lab and Experiment

No athlete is truly ready until they have a training ground. The same goes for prospective and current cyber security professionals. Creating a home lab environment where you can experiment with different tools, technologies, and security configurations is an effective way to learn hands-on. You can set up virtual machines, practise different attack and defence scenarios, and explore the intricacies of various cyber security concepts. This practical experimentation fosters a deeper understanding of how security mechanisms work in real-world scenarios.

2. Read Security Blogs, Books, and Research Papers

This skill is vital to develop early on as it's one you'll carry with you throughout your career. The cyber security field is constantly changing, and those within it need to stay on top of new developments and emerging threats. Reading cyber security blogs cough, cough, Lighthouse Labs books, and research papers authored by experts in the field can provide insights into emerging threats and innovative defence strategies. Regularly consuming quality content helps individuals stay informed and adapt to the ever-evolving landscape of cyber security. Besides tooting our own horn, sites like Fortinet, CrowdStrike, Daniel Miessler, and InfoSecurity Magazine are just a few valuable resources to stay up to date.

3. Engage in Online Communities and Forums

Tech work is collaborative by nature, so online communities and forums abound for tech professionals. Joining one of these groups dedicated to cyber security provides a platform for networking, sharing knowledge, and seeking advice from experienced professionals. Participating in discussions, asking questions, and sharing your insights can help you learn from others, gain new perspectives, and build a supportive network. Some communities include Hacker Combat, Youth4Work, and the Women in Cyber Security Society.

4. Practice Hands-On Labs and Capture The Flag (CTF) Challenges

Practical experience is invaluable in cyber security. Engaging in hands-on labs and Capture The Flag (CTF) challenges allows individuals to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios. Many online platforms offer interactive labs and CTF challenges that simulate cyber attacks and defensive techniques, helping participants develop practical skills and problem-solving abilities.

5. Enroll in Relevant Courses and Certifications

Pursuing formal education through online courses, workshops, and certifications is a great way to build a strong foundation in cyber security. Certifications like CompTIA Security+, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) provide structured learning paths and validate your expertise in various areas of cyber security.

Lighthouse Labs offers an industry-informed Cyber Security Program with a full-time intensive 12-week option or a flexible 30-week schedule. The program will teach you the technical and soft skills needed to start a cyber security career. Accompanied by Student Success Coordinators, knowledgeable instructors, and mentors, you'll have the necessary support as you navigate the program's challenges.

You also have lifetime access to our dedicated Career Services team, who achieved an 85% hiring rate for our job-seeking graduates. The team is there from day one, providing workshops and résumé reviews and crucial candidate matching to increase your chances of landing the cyber security job you want.