Cyberattacks pose a serious threat to many businesses in different industries. Hackers are getting smarter and more advanced in penetrating firewalls and other security measures. In 93% of cases, external attackers can penetrate a company’s network perimeter and gain access to its local network resources. There is a strong demand for preventive measures.
According to a study on cybercrime, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses but only 14% are prepared to defend themselves. Common attacks include compromised devices, phishing, and stolen credentials. As more companies start to take cybersecurity seriously, the demand for network security engineers will only increase.
What does a network security engineer do?
A network security engineer, or cybersecurity engineer, is responsible for designing and implementing network security solutions in an organization. They specialize in protecting corporate computer networks and systems against cyberattacks, hacking attacks, infiltrations, intrusions and natural disasters.
These engineers also ensure that data security, information security, and cybersecurity measures are followed in development, pre-production and production environments. They often act as a technical resource that helps other teams in the organization navigate and educate customers on technical issues.
A network security engineer can install and configure computer networks such as Internet connections, such as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and other data communication systems. But their primary role is to identify and fix any vulnerability or security flaw in the network infrastructure.
A cybersecurity engineer ensures that security policies are updated on time and are always up to date. They often implement identity and access management (IAM) policies to prevent unauthorized access to corporate data. They also regularly maintain firewalls, VLANs, VoIP, VPNs, and web and email security protocols.
How to Become a Network Security Engineer
Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving and network security engineers need to stay on top of them. The role requires computer networking and programming skills as well as the ability to keep up with information security trends. So here are the steps to help you become a network security engineer.
Earn the necessary qualifications
Most cybersecurity positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, if not a master’s degree, in cybersecurity, software engineering, systems engineering, computer science, information systems/management, or a similar field. These degrees will equip you with the technical knowledge and skills necessary to help you succeed in this career.
Aspiring network security engineers should focus on modules such as designing and building software systems, risk assessment methods, computer forensics, and network architecture. These would help prepare them for the real-world challenges that exist in the world of cybersecurity.
There are professional cybersecurity certifications that many companies seek. They make it possible to demonstrate expertise and validate knowledge of best practices. Cybersecurity engineers are in demand and can become leaders by gaining work experience and earning a master’s degree in cybersecurity or software development.
Cybersecurity engineers must know how to communicate effectively with team members and upper management. They should also know and follow important cybersecurity laws and compliance requirements in their field. They need to make quick decisions and ensure faster recovery in the event of a security event.
A network security engineer should be prepared to improve their skills and keep an eye on the latest cybersecurity news and trends. They should be aware of the latest methods used by cybercriminals. They also need to develop better ways to protect organizations against cyber threats and severe attacks.
Building field experience
Besides formal education, there are other ways to gain experience and stand out in the field of cybersecurity. New graduates can start with an entry-level certification that helps prove their expertise in network security. An example is the CompTIA Security+ Certified which emphasizes practical skills.
A cybersecurity boot camp is another way to gain real-world experience and make your resume more impressive. This is a short-term course that teaches all the key skills needed for entry-level employment. These training camps are very intensive and usually last 3 to 6 months.
Cybersecurity graduates can gain experience through internships or similar work experience. Indeed, these are temporary positions that allow candidates to obtain practical training in a real scenario. Some entry-level cybersecurity jobs include information security analyst, system administrator, IT support specialist, junior penetration testers, and more.
What are the career prospects?
As more companies continue to digitize their business operations and processes, they will need to protect their systems from potential threats and vulnerabilities. Cyber attacks such as mobile malware attacks, large-scale data breaches, etc. are increasing rapidly and becoming more dangerous than ever.
The pressing need to safeguard and secure digital assets continues to drive the demand for cybersecurity engineers. There is a workforce shortage of nearly 4.1 million cybersecurity workers. Similarly, it would take a 145% increase in the number of qualified network security engineers (2.8 million) to fill this void.
More people should be encouraged to pursue careers in network security and fight cybercrime. Network security is an in-demand field that pays handsomely and offers a high job satisfaction rate. According to Payscale, the average salary for a network security engineer is around $92,000 per year.