What Is a Cybersecurity Consultant + How to Work as One
What is cybersecurity consulting? What does it involve? And what do you need to become a cyber consulting service provider? Cybersecurity consulting services are becoming an increasingly popular career path.
Actually, it makes all the sense in the world: according to the FBI’s Annual Internet Crime Report, businesses lost more than $6.9B to cybercrime in 2021. Cybercrime is booming – and as a response, cyber security is strengthening up its defenses too.
What Is Cybersecurity Consulting?
Cybersecurity consulting is a service that helps businesses stay secure in the face of cyber threats, and a consultant is someone who provides professional or expert advice in a particular area of expertise.
In the case of cybersecurity, a consultant is an expert who provides advice and guidance on how to best protect a business from cyber threats. This type of consulting is usually provided by an individual (as a consultant) or a team of experts (as a firm).
A cybersecurity consulting project can be time-bound, or it can extend into continuous support – depending on the specific types of services the two parties agree on.
The Job of A Cybersecurity Consultant
The job of a cybersecurity consultant is to help their client make sure they protect their businesses in the event of a cyberattack or data breach. A cyber consultant's main goal is to help companies build their cyber resilience, risk management, and mitigation plans.
Furthermore, cybersecurity consultants frequently work with hardware and software. Their job also involves working closely with internal IT teams and service providers, to ensure the functional implementation of the cyber security plans.
Some of the most important tasks of a cybersecurity consultant include:
Maximizing IT Security Efficiency
One of the primary goals of any cybersecurity consultant is to help their clients make the most out of their IT security budget. This usually involves:
- Conducting a risk assessment of the company and its operations
- Evaluating the current security posture
- Creating detailed reports on how to improve their cyber resilience.
Running Vulnerability and Security Tests
An information security consultant also conducts tests to check the client’s systems for vulnerabilities.
Conducting Research on the Latest Best Practices & Cyber Threats
Research is essential in a cybersecurity consultant's job. This is necessary to identify potential risks early on and develop comprehensive plans to help their clients from them. For instance, a good cybersecurity consultant would stay on top of the latest cyber threats (such as the recent Log4j vulnerability) and they would research ways to counter, fix, and respond to them as soon as possible.
Crafting Internet Safety Solutions
An IT security consultant will also work with the internal IT team to develop and implement security solutions that fit the company’s needs. This might involve anything from setting up firewalls and intrusion detection systems to developing security policies and procedures.
Collaborating with Other Security Professionals
Cybersecurity consultants also need to collaborate with other professionals, such as ethical hackers. This helps them get a better understanding of the latest threats and how to protect against them.
Providing Clients with Technical Reports
Cyber consultants also have to provide clients with detailed technical reports on the state of their IT security. This usually includes information on the current security posture (from a people, hardware, policy, and/or software perspective). Furthermore, reports may sometimes include recommendations on how to improve the security status/posture of a company too.
Running Accurate Cost Estimations for Cyber Resilience Projects
A cybersecurity consultant will also have to provide cost estimations. This will help businesses make the right investment decisions.
Helping and Supervising Internal and Contractor Teams
Sometimes, a cybersecurity consultant might also have to help and supervise internal and contractor teams. This usually involves providing guidance and training, as well as helping the team troubleshoot issues.
Upgrading Security Systems
As new threats emerge, a cybersecurity consultant will also need to upgrade the security systems as needed. This might involve anything from installing new software to upgrading hardware and making changes to the company’s security policies.
Advantages of Becoming a Cybersecurity Consultant
Market Growth & Job Opportunities
Experts estimate that the cybersecurity market will grow to $298.70B by 2027. If you're on a cybersecurity consulting path, you're almost guaranteed to make good money in the near to medium future.
Cybersecurity Consultant Salary
As of July 2022, the average annual salary for a cybersecurity consultant in the US is $117,000. However, it can go as high as $140,000, depending on your location. Entry-level salaries are quite attractive too, at an average of $90,000/year.
In a world where organizations lose billions to cybercrime, being one of the people who help businesses stay safe and operational can bring great personal satisfaction. If you're looking for a job that keeps you active and always in tune with the latest news in the IT industry, cybersecurity consulting is a great option.
What Skills Do You Need to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant
To become a cybersecurity consultant, you will need both solid technical skills and soft skills. Here's a quick breakdown of the most commonly-needed skills in each category:
Hard/ Technical Skills for Cybersecurity Consultants
- In-depth knowledge of networking concepts, security principles, models, and architectures
- Experience with Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS ), firewalls, and honeypots
- Experience with security information and event management (SIEM) tools
- Familiarity with encryption techniques to mitigate risks posed by hackers
Soft Skills for Cybersecurity Consultants
- Communication and presentation skills
- Project management experience
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Attention to detail
How to Become a Cybersecurity Consultant
There is no beaten path on how to become a cybersecurity consultant. Some companies will require a degree in Computer Studies (or associated fields). However, this is not always mandatory.
Here are some of the more widely accepted certifications in the cyber consulting field:
This is not all there is to know about cybersecurity consulting as a career choice. However, it has hopefully helped you gain a better understanding of what it is (and how to get started.) Working in cybersecurity consulting is both challenging and rewarding, so we encourage you to take action as soon as possible!
Cybersecurity Consulting FAQs:
Q1: What is the role of a security consultant?
The role of a security consultant is to assess the cybersecurity resilience of a company, as well as to help organizations develop risk assessment and mitigation plans in accordance with the latest best practices and cyber threats.
Q2: What do you need to be a security consultant?
Q3: Is cybersecurity consultancy a good career?
Yes, being a cybersecurity consultant is a good career choice. The market is prospected to grow to $298.70B by 2027, so the industry will create more jobs. Furthermore, both entry-level and senior-level salaries are very enticing, with entry level-jobs ranging around $90,000/ year (before taxes) and senior-level incomes going to more than $117,000/ year. With a growing market (and a growing need for cybersecurity consultants), job security is another perk of working in the industry.
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