The 13 Most Important Skills to have as a Cyber Defender

The information security professionals of today have a requirement of learning more swiftly, communicating more effectively, containing more knowledge about the business, and matching the ever-improving capabilities of adversaries. Not so long ago, to survive in this field, all you needed was creativity, problem-solving, and a healthy dose of technical understanding. But today, the security professional’s role has evolved, requiring many cybersecurity skills and qualities.

Intrusion Detection

Just one data breach can cause an organization to lose millions. Powerful back door codes and trojans seek to steal confidential data by bypassing the authentication’s security wall. Software for intrusion detection must be more secure than the strength of the malware threatening an organization’s systems. To become a cyber defender, look for training in certifications to accomplish staying savvy on the tech front; this will help you secure a well-paying job in a company that respects its need for intrusion detection.

Cyber Defender
Cyber Defender

Security Tools Expertise

Sound security has its beginning in a knowledge of the tools. To their regret, many organizations have an approach to set it, then forget it. These groups lack the know-how of security tools. SIEM or security information and event management tools give both long-distance views of infrastructure and close-up views of incidents to identify problematic areas. Of course, such devices are not helpful if the team isn’t using them to their fullest potential. Many tools are left at defaults, which wastes their capabilities. It is essential to have staff that is experts in the tools an organization possesses.

Malware Analysis and Reversal

Security professionals need to stay proactive in their approach regarding malware intrusion, which is a serious issue. They need to develop and master skills within the realm of digital threat management. Cybersecurity experts also need to strengthen skills in disaster recovery planning and business continuity. In the aftermath of an attack, it is absolutely vital for an organization to make a quick recovery and resume business. Experts who offer competence and confidence in this area are in high demand. Thus, knowledge and expertise in the analysis of malware hold promise for growth.

Security Analysis

While having the tools and knowing how to use them is essential, it is also critical to have an understanding as to how they fit into an overall security strategy. You need to understand the business of security before you can even figure out which particular tools you will need and how to incorporate them. Security analysis is also capable of identifying those conditions that make an attack more likely, helping to minimize attack surfaces.

Project Management

While IT project management skills tend to be in high demand as a general rule, project managers specializing in managing projects in security roles are growing especially valuable. Not all that long ago, someone with basic technological knowledge could install some antivirus and spam filtering, perhaps going so far as to add perimeter defense tools. Now, security solutions are projects of weeks or months; project managers need to integrate solutions with the systems as a whole, adding training as well as upgrades and maintenance.

Programming Know-How

General understanding of the programming languages is vital for any expert in cybersecurity. This helps experts gauge attack possibility on the system and to work on the development of counter-measures accordingly. Programming knowledge equips them to combat the threat but also is necessary to continue developing future concrete contingency plans. This calls for a secure grasp of such languages as Perl, Java, PHP, C++, C, and Shell. Cyber defenders also require sound know-how regarding system architecture, operating system management, administration, networking, and virtualization software.

Black-hat Thinking

There is a saying that if you want a house that is theft-proof, be sure to hire the most skilled thief in the city. Similarly, to thoroughly secure a system, it helps to think like a black hat or hacker. Offensive cyber defense is gaining traction for a good reason. It is frequently more useful to anticipate and prepare for an attack’s contingency rather than focusing on damage control when it is too late for prevention to take place. Penetration testing is how to meet this objective.

Incident Response

Incident response helps a cyber defender to secure an IT system by identifying threats in a quick fashion. Splunk is a well-known tool for this cause, perhaps largely because of its presence in government IT solutions. There is an increased demand for professional cyber defenders with Splunk skills.


It is difficult to keep up with cybersecurity threats and the tools which handle them as both are constantly evolving. Traditionally, an organization would have a security team manually doing monitoring as well as mitigating vulnerabilities, but now that is a less workable solution. Devops and automation are being leveraged to keep up with the threat landscape. Many organizations lack the staff to handle all the potential problems and questions at once, so automation is an essential tool while cyber defenders are in short supply.

Building a Well-Rounded Skillset

Ransomware, distributed denial of service, and more advanced threats that persist are capable of bypassing outdated technologies’ security efforts easily. Cyber defenders should equip their arsenals of cybersecurity tools with all the new techniques. Building a well-rounded skill set with such abilities that range across network security, IOT security, penetration testing, and access management is useful for anyone in the industry. Security experts can build upon a broad foundation to branch out as necessary.

Post-Mortem Forensics

Prediction, handling attacks while they are ongoing, and clean-up are all critical stages of dealing with cybersecurity incidents. Security talent also, however, needs to learn how to conduct a forensic investigation once an incident has occurred. Many larger organizations have been putting their security teams through extensive forensics training to help develop improved incident response skills.

Cloud Security

A 2016 survey showed a very high need for cloud security skills, a demand that continues to grow. The number of attacks on the cloud is increasing; it is susceptible to dangerous attacks such as hijacked accounts, data breaches, malicious insiders, and more. Cloud security is yet another skill for a lucrative career as a cyber defender.


Finally, strong security talent experiences a passion for the work of cyber defense as well as a desire to share the knowledge that has been accumulated. A good security defender has a significant passion for learning, sharing, and growing knowledge bases all the time. This is more than a skill, this is an aspect of personality that helps make a person better fit to be a cyber defender. With passion, cyber security skills can be gained across the board to prepare for an influential career.

Isaac Adams-Hands

Full Stack Developer, Digital Marketer, and InfoSec enthusiast. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Western Sydney and his Business Diploma from Georgian College before joining various marketing positions in search portals, e-commerce, higher education, and addiction recovery services.

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