Employer profile

Cyber Security Challenge UK

Updated: July, 2016

About Cyber Security Challenge UK

What is Cyber Security?

Government sees cyber security as a ‘tier 1’ national security issue and the UK has a national strategy to address the growing cyber threats to the nation, our economy, and society.

The growing interdependence of our IT systems and our reliance on highly networked systems and data they give access to, means that the growing threats we face individually and collectively provide growing risks to our social, economic even physical lives. Cyber security, which includes information assurance and information security is about preserving the availability and integrity of key systems, from attacks by criminals, foreign states, and individuals or groups with malicious intent.

Annoying malware, phishing attacks, and ‘denial of service’ incidents impact individuals, but having critical industrial control systems interfered with or damaged, loss of large volumes of personal data, and theft of valuable intellectual property are other facets of the overall threat we face via cyber space.

Why consider a career in Cyber Security?

This in an expanding job market, and offers a range of interesting and challenging careers not only within the IT sector but across all sectors of the economy, where an individual’s efforts can make a significant impact.

In a world where our economies and social lives are increasingly dependent upon networked technologies we are reliant upon a range of cyber security specialists to protect us from the growing levels of attacks.

The constantly evolving nature of cyber threats means that the response has to be rapid and effective, and professionals in this area have to be flexible, responsive, and sometimes creative; they must be prepared to continually develop their skills and understanding whether through informal learning or continuing professional development.

Graduates from a range of disciplines may bring valuable technical skills and understandings, but employers and relevant professional bodies are keen to get across that whilst existing technical skills are of great benefit for certain jobs, the breadth of this field means there is a real requirement for individuals with these and other aptitudes including communication and problem-solving.

What sort of jobs exist?

The wide spectrum of job roles within the field of cyber security encompasses protecting government and corporate systems. It spans generalist roles covering a variety of security disciplines through to narrower specialisms. The Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP) has identified eight main categories of jobs:

  • Incident and threat managers, and forensic experts
  • Risk analysts and managers
  • Policy makers and strategists
  • Operations and security management
  • Engineering, architecture and design
  • Education, training and awareness
  • Research
  • Lawyers specialising in advice and prosecution for internet crime and data protection.

Cyber Security Challenge is a collaborative initiative between government and business to identify and channel new talent into the cyber security workforce and gives some really useful insights into what working in cyber security is like, with short video clips featuring individuals in each of the job roles. The Challenge not only organises cyber security competitions – with valuable prizes - as a way of helping interested individuals to test and develop their abilities, but also provides a comprehensive overview of cyber security as a fascinating and varied field of diverse employment opportunities and its website is well worth checking out.

Where are the jobs?

Demand exists within both the public and private sectors, with opportunities across the UK. The GCHQ provides insights into working with the intelligence and security agencies.

In the private sector, security professionals are employed by a wide variety of business sectors, from utilities such as electricity and power, through IT and telecommunications, through to sectors such as banking and retail where the security of personal, financial and corporate data is truly business critical, and the pharmaceutical and other sectors where securing intellectual property is an imperative.

Supporting these and all other economic sectors is a vibrant security products and services ‘vendor’ community (antivirus and other software suppliers being household names) and consultancy community. Systems integrators, cloud service providers and others providing outsourced IT services are all actively involved in weaving cyber security into their offerings. A number of websites advertise jobs for new and more recent graduates such as indeed and jobisjob giving a flavour of current vacancies.

Cyber Security as a profession

‘Cyber security’ – taken here to include information security and the long-established discipline of ‘information assurance’ – is an established profession. There is considerable activity underway to help recognise the professional capability of both individual specialists and training and continuing education provision on offer to such cyber security specialists (and other professionals whose role encompasses significant aspects of cyber security). Graduate entry to employment in cyber security sometimes follows a career path reflecting a particular specialist job role (e.g. for ‘penetration testers’ specialising in identifying vulnerabilities to hacking and other forms of attack, practitioners may choose to seek to become registered by an organisation such as CREST – such bodies may offer student memberships.

How do you enter a Cyber Security career?

Dozens of cyber security undergraduate and Masters-level degrees already exist, but some individuals enter cyber security work, even that which is more technical, via other disciplines.

Be cyberstreetwise.

Work sectors

public sector, law enforcement and security



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