Protecting a business against cyber-security attacks takes a special skill set. Hiren Joshi, Branch Director with Robert Half Canada, explores how to become a cyber security analyst – and why smart communicators with technical flare are in high demand. What happens if a senior finance leader receives an email, asking for money to be transferred between accounts? A legitimate request from a reputable source will cause no issues. But if the email is from a hacker, pretending to be someone else, the ramifications could be more serious. Money could be lost, systems compromised, and information leaked in a matter of seconds. The fallout might hit the headlines and the reputation of the business called into a question.  The impact of a cyber-attack can be devastating. But if they can be prevented, businesses can save brand reputation and money. That’s why cyber expertise matters. Many Canadian jobs in tech in 2024 require some sore of security or software specialist skills. The latest Robert Half Canada Salary Guide surveyed tech and IT hiring managers on what skills they were increasing salaries for in 2024. The top two skills? Cybersecurity (43 per cent) and cloud computing security and architecture (35 per cent). Professionals with cybersecurity skills can help shore up defences and prevent attacks, but they can also help businesses to respond if the worst should happen. They often come with deep experience staying one step ahead of the hackers and can anticipate evolving threats; how to become a cybersecurity analyst is therefore an important topic to understand.
Technical training, on-the-job experience  Most people start at the bottom of the technical ladder. Graduates often join the IT helpdesk, before moving on to network and system administration. Over time, they will develop technical skills and face a diverse range of scenarios. If they show an interest in security, they will usually move in that direction. People also come into the profession with a data background because their skills can be especially useful when dealing with attacks on business information.  For Canadian jobs in tech, most companies provide training and development on the job. Cybersecurity analysts have to make decisions based on real-life scenarios and understand different methods of attack, unique to the business and company. But there are also important technical qualifications along the way. CompTIA offers certified security training; CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional; and there are various ‘ethical hacking’ programs, designed to help detect vulnerabilities in company systems. There is also a qualification for chief information security officers (CISOs).  The key threats they will defend against include phishing, malware and ransomware. Phishing is a common social engineering technique using emails and texts to encourage users to share sensitive information or download a malicious file, similar to the story above. Malware, often delivered through phishing techniques, is malicious software code designed to harm a computer, network or server. Ransomware, a type of malware, is when a hacker gains access to company data, encrypts it, and provides a decryption key in exchange for payment.  Companies are looking for more than just technical skills when it comes to hiring for jobs in tech or IT. For cybersecurity analysts, apart from the technical requirements, they shouls have strong soft skills too. Communication and attention-to-detail are some of the top soft-skills in this role. In their jobs, they'll have to talk to people across multiple teams, often across international borders; every day is a chance for hackers to attack their systems in new ways. Cybersecurity analysts have to be savy (think on their feet) to constantly monitor evolving threats and stay proactive in order to make critical and some times split-second decisions. An example of just how quick cybersecurity analysts react to save the day Recently, a client praised one of our consultants. He was monitoring their system and saw a hacking incident happening in real time. He shut everything down and stopped it from infecting systems further; a combination of technical ability and real-world experience came together when it mattered most.  Developing a proactive approach  Businesses are good at asking for help with cybersecurity when things go wrong, but they could do better at avoiding attacks in the first place. The future of jobs in tech, and for cybersecurity analysts in particular, will therefore become even more important, as threats evolve, and businesses learn to take a more proactive approach. With the digital transformation taking place across Canadian companies, in-house security teams can be complemented by contracted professionals, who will be able to advise on specific problems and challenges; businesses can also partner with Robert Half Canada to find a managed business solution for larger projects or more permanent expertise in place. It’s their choice.  Either way, finding the right person with a rounded skill set, will be critical. So, the next time an executive leader receives a spoof email asking for money, a proactive approach – with the right cybersecurity analyst on the team – will prevent it from compromising systems and, potentially, harming a hard-won reputation.    Hiren Joshi is currently working as a Branch Director with Robert Half based out of Toronto, ON. He has been with Robert Half for more than 7 years and has more than 15+ years of IT recruitment experience.