As one of the most in-demand job areas on the market, a cybersecurity position comes with a lot of responsibility. You may be working with computers and never leave an office building, but you are essentially a police officer or a firefighter, conducting damage control when a cyber-attack gets out of hand or monitoring potential cyber threats. So it goes without saying that cybersecurity professionals have their share of stress.
Generally, the most stressful dimensions of a job in cybersecurity include:
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- Poor hours
- In-job pressures
- Keeping up with evolving security threats
Keep in mind that not all cybersecurity jobs are demanding on the same level. If you’re a cyber professional yourself, you may be familiar with some of these points and never experience others. Ultimately, your job experience depends on your specific role in a cybersecurity team. With that said, let’s take a look at the five most stressful cybersecurity jobs:
Chief Information Security Officer
You can imagine why being a CISO would be a demanding position. You’re the head of your team and it’s up to you to make sure that your company’s technical infrastructure stays secure. You oversee security operations, update and implement security plans.
Cyber threats don’t run on a schedule and you need to be prepared to address critical threats at all hours. You may have a team working under you, but ultimately it’s your guidance that’s going to see your company through any cyber threat.
It goes without saying that as a CISO, the in-job pressures are particularly high. You need to stay on top of evolving security threats while managing your team. While being a CISO can be an incredibly rewarding job, it’s far from relaxing.
As a penetration tester, it’s your job to test a company’s infrastructure for security weaknesses. However, you need to test for these weaknesses in a very specific area outlined by your employer. You need to be careful to review the boundaries of your test with your customer to protect yourself from any legal consequences.
If you discover a weakness that you weren’t hired to detect, you could get in serious trouble with the law. Penetration testers must be very precise in the exact level of penetration testing they’re expected to perform.
Like the Chief Information Security Officer, there is a high demand for penetration testers, and you may find yourself working all hours. Every pen tester’s greatest fear is probably that they will miss a weakness that will be exploited and that they will be blamed for incompetency.
As an incident responder, your job is multileveled. Not only do you need to be able to detect security threats, but when a cyber attack successfully compromises your system you’re that person who knows how to contain and stop the attack.
As an incident responder, you need to be available at all times to counter any ongoing attack. That means you’ll be keeping unusual hours and you have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. After the attack occurs, you should have an idea how to prevent any similar attacks from happening in the future.
Being an incident responder is one of the most demanding cybersecurity jobs available. It’s also one of the most in-demand. Too few people are qualified as incident responders, and the demands of the job are very high. To be a successful incident responder, you need to be flexible, experienced in cybersecurity, and know-how to think on your feet.
Cybersecurity analysts monitor a company’s computer systems for cyber threats. Basically, you know how to recognize any anomalies in network traffic or computer performance. But there’s more to being a cybersecurity analyst than just watching your company’s network.
You’ll be developing the steps an organization will follow in the event of a cybersecurity threat. Like an incident responder, you know to recognize threats and implement backup plans to limit any potential damage and loss. You also need to be prepared to communicate with others the importance of security awareness.
Cybersecurity analysts have a lot in common with incident responders, the basic difference being that you may not be a front-line responder. You do need to know how to use specific security tools that will help you monitor your company’s network and technology use.
Cybersecurity consultants, like pen testers, are hired by companies to assess their security infrastructure and make recommendations for improvement. As a cybersecurity consultant, you need to understand security policies and be ready to train employees in security awareness.
As with most cybersecurity jobs, you’ll be doing more than just pointing out potential issues. You need to be prepared to do a little pen testing and you may be asked to speak to customers about security concerns. You need to be articulate and friendly, able to educate others about security while keeping up-to-date with constantly changing cybersecurity threats.
It isn’t easy working with people who are concerned about how secure their data is, and cybersecurity consultants need to remain confident and calm even during a critical cyber attack. Social skills are a must for this job where so much depends on communicating to others the necessity of implementing the best security technology and usage.
Is the Potential Stress Level Worth It?
That depends on you. There’s no doubt that most cybersecurity jobs carry some level of responsibility and can cause serious stress. It’s difficult to separate work from your home life in a profession where you may be called at any time to address a security threat.
Like a police officer, a firefighter, and an emergency doctor, a cybersecurity professional is a necessary and important part of the modern world. It’s a challenging role (very challenging), and there is never a point in your career where you know enough about cybersecurity threats to sit back and relax.
But if you’re the kind of person who loves a challenge and is prepared to be on call, this is the job for you. If you love working with computers and are devoted to securing people’s assets from hackers, the job market needs more people like you.
Cybersecurity jobs are among the top-paying in the world and while there may be risks, there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you are protecting others from an outside threat.
And try to take time for yourself—be patient and keep in mind that no cyber professional is so perfect that they know how to guard against every threat. Everyone makes mistakes. The real mark of a cybersecurity professional is knowing how to patch those mistakes and be ready to take whatever threat comes next.