Introduction

We often hear about cybersecurity engineer roles and how desirable it is to work as one, but what does the position actually entail? What are the job responsibilities and functions that cybersecurity engineer candidates need to be able to fulfill? Adding to the confusion is the fact that some employers interchange the names of roles such as cybersecurity engineer, information security engineer and information security analyst.

To explain things in a more simple and direct way, we’ve taken a look at many company requests for cybersecurity engineers. We’ve gone through the data and synthesized the most common characteristics and traits that an individual normally possesses in such a role. All of the basics are laid out, as well as the education and certification requirements that are necessary to land such a job. Let’s take a look.

Cybersecurity engineer: Basic job description

Cybersecurity engineers are the gatekeepers of information within an organization, responsible for the protection and security of the systems that store this data. They are in charge of the network and systems in a security capacity. They execute and plan security measures accordingly. Cybersecurity engineers help to keep attackers at bay by implementing safeguards that prevent intrusions and breaches. Cybersecurity engineers don’t work in isolation, though, and they are widely seen as being an extension of the IT department.

Some basic responsibilities that they must therefore take on are:

  • Cybersecurity planning and policy creation: Cybersecurity engineers play a large role in establishing and planning information security policies. They are able to contribute to and develop cybersecurity strategies that are in line with best practices, which makes the organization more secure and less likely to fall victim to a cybersecurity event such as a breach or intrusion
  • Protective measures: Cybersecurity engineers are able to implement protective measures through firewalls, software solutions, custom scripts, custom tools and data encryption technologies
  • Vulnerability testing: Vulnerability or penetration testing is sometimes conducted by an outside party, but cybersecurity engineers can run their own simulations and tests if they are not going to affect business operations. They are expected to keep a close eye on their organization’s security stance, so regular checks, exercises and tests are all part of the job
  • Monitoring and reporting: There are plenty of logging and monitoring systems that need to be looked at in case of any issues or attacks on your network. Having the right logging and alerting tools can mean the difference between mitigating a threat before it becomes serious and losing business operations
  • Investigations and postmortem analysis: As cybersecurity engineers deal with the day-to-day issues of work, they are expected to discuss the root causes of issues as they come up. They need to generate reports and also host presentations when they have made their findings and finalized their investigations

Cybersecurity engineer personality traits

Not everyone is the same, and you definitely can’t say that all people with certain personality traits would be suited for this line of work. That being said, the general idea is that anyone working within a security role that has technical requirements must pay close attention to detail and be meticulous in their planning and reporting. Details are very important in cybersecurity, so making sure that you have all of your facts in order is essential.

Conscientiousness and excellent time management skills are also needed if you are working in this kind of cybersecurity role. Your organization will have requirements that they need you to meet, in terms of projects and other functions relating to your role. This means that you need to be able to properly manage your time, meet deadlines and deliver on all fronts.

Cybersecurity engineer abilities

Problem-solving is another ability high on the priority list. This is because you will be troubleshooting along with the other engineers in different departments during an incident. You’ll need to logically think about what services, protocols and applications are impacted and logically trace back the faults to a probable cause. For this reason, you must be able to understand key technology concepts and know how they should operate.

Another aspect that many people don’t take into consideration when pursuing any line of work in a technical field is the pressure component. How well do you cope in high-pressure situations?   Not many people think about the stress that comes with the responsibility of being the go-to person in the event of a suspected security breach or an ongoing cybersecurity incident. You’ll need to be able to operate under pressure while managers and stakeholders hound you for more information about the current situation.

In order to succeed in a company, you need to be able to work as part of a team. Teamwork is essential in the complicated modern business environment. Many different systems interconnect with one another and are impacted when there are any outages. This means that you need to be able to communicate and work with other support owners and technical teams if you are in charge of security.

Common cybersecurity engineer responsibilities

All roles are different, and cybersecurity engineering roles change according to company requirements and the nature of their cybersecurity operations. Some of the most commonly mentioned responsibilities for the average cybersecurity engineer are:

  • The ability to plan, implement, manage, monitor and upgrade security measures: This includes administering and installing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, intrusion prevention systems, SIEM solutions and more. The ability to plan upgrades and recommend solutions to management is also very important
  • Troubleshoot both security and network issues: There will be times when cybersecurity engineers need to work closely with other departments while troubleshooting faults. Having a solid networking background is preferable. Troubleshooting in complicated environments requires a solid understanding of how the technologies all work together
  • Respond to system and/or network security breaches: Sometimes a cybersecurity engineer will be required to involve themselves with any suspected incident or system breach. This is usually done until it is established that there is either a cyberincident or a genuine system fault that is not caused by a threat actor or cybercriminal
  • Ensure that the company’s sensitive information and IT equipment are kept safe by implementing the correct security measures: You should have intimate knowledge of how the company’s data is secured, where it is kept and who has access to it. Following standard operating procedures will help you to keep on top of any security issues
  • Participate in change control operations: As a cybersecurity engineer, you might need to get a little more involved in the change control side of security. This means helping to maintain documentation that relates to any deviations on your network, such as who logged onto a system, and for what purpose, what work has been done to which computers and more
  • Test and identify network and system vulnerabilities: Performing pentests and vulnerability assessments from time to time is an essential part of cybersecurity engineering. You should be keeping an ear to the ground and an eye on all of the new developments as they relate to cybersecurity so that you can test for new vulnerabilities as you learn about them
  • Administrative and communication tasks with the users of the organization: Any cybersecurity role that you take on will require a certain level of oversight and communication with other departments. If there is a behavior or risk that puts the security of the organization in jeopardy, then this needs to be addressed by your department. This doesn’t mean that you are responsible for policing the users, but you will need to report wrongdoing when it warrants that kind of response

Cybersecurity engineer requirements

Getting more into the nuts and bolts of the role, we will look at some of the most common cybersecurity requirements that are an absolute must. These are the minimum requirements to entry, but you should definitely plan to further your educational aspirations if you want to get ahead.

  • You should at least obtain a degree in computer science, information technology, systems engineering or a related qualification that’s connected to the fields of information security and information technology
  • Hands-on knowledge counts for a lot in cybersecurity. That is why you should have at least two years of work experience with tasks such as intrusion detection, incident response and computer forensics. The more experience you have, the more valuable you will be to an employer that is seeking to leverage your knowledge against any potential security threats
  • You really should have at least some experience with firewalls, routers, intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems. You should also have knowledge of other popular security suites if you are looking to set yourself apart from other potential candidates
  • Lacking programming skill is not a deal-breaker, but if you want to compete with the best, including hackers and cybercriminals, then you should at least have some experience in programming. Building your own scripts and tools will make you a much more formidable opponent for anyone that tries to gain unlawful access to your networks. Good languages that are commonly used in cybersecurity roles are Python, C++, Java, Ruby, Node, Go and/or PowerShell
  • Stress tolerance is essential if you are going to survive the rigors of a cybersecurity role, especially if you are looking after live systems
  • You should be a detail-oriented individual with an impeccable sense of orderliness. You need to be able to quickly identify anything out of the ordinary on a daily basis, so retaining information and applying it to scenarios based on data is something that you should be prepared for
  • You need to live and breathe cybersecurity. That means staying up to date with current news, techniques, seminars and trends. You should never be the last person to know about a security threat, so stay informed through as many reputable sources as you can. Having a natural interest in the subject will help, too

Conclusion

As we have seen, there are many different dimensions that determine just how successful you could potentially be as a cybersecurity engineer. The consistent trend is that you need to work hard and stay on top of your certifications and education overall if you are going to be successful in this field.

There is a general global shortage of IT professionals in general, and cybersecurity is one of the subfields that is especially understaffed at the moment. Getting into the field makes a lot of sense if you are looking to pursue a career that pays well and gives you enough of a challenge to keep you focused and engaged without getting bored. Good luck!

 

Sources

  1. Information Security Engineer Job Description, Jobhero
  2. Cyber Security Engineer Job Description, Betterteam

Be Safe

Section Guide

Graeme
Messina

View more articles from Graeme

Earn your Sec+ the first time with Infosec and pass your exam, GUARANTEED!

Section Guide

Graeme
Messina

View more articles from Graeme