17 Must-Have Skills For Every Cybersecurity Specialist

17 must-have skills for every cybersecurity specialist

Cybersecurity is in demand! Yes, as the world has become more technologically advanced, we are now more dependent on AI and related technologies, which in turn makes us vulnerable to cyberattacks.

While it’s not as easy as it’s portrayed in the films, if you have watched ‘The Italian Job’ or ‘Live Free or Die Hard’, and you think being a cybersecurity specialist sounds cool, you’re in luck! This is an amazing job profile for those who are tech-savvy and have a love for coding. 

For anyone who’s serious about breaking into the field and wants to know how to become a cybersecurity specialist, St. Bonaventure University offers a Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity that will equip you with the essential skills and knowledge you need to launch your career. For example, you will learn about network security controls, intrusion detection, in-depth scripting & programming, and DevOps. These are all critical skills for cybersecurity professionals, and St. Bonaventure University’s program will give you the hands-on experience you need to apply them in the real world.

17 Essential Cybersecurity Skills For Every Cybersecurity Specialist

Now that you are all determined to explore more about cybersecurity specialist skills, let’s go through the skills described below and find out if you already have some of these skills under your belt: 

1. Scripting

The first and foremost thing that a cybersecurity expert should have is knowledge of coding and scripting. You should be fluent in Python or PowerShell. Python is one of the most prevalent languages that you have to learn to achieve your goal, and mastery of it will be compulsory when you are learning ethical hacking. 

2. Controls and frameworks

A cybersecurity framework includes the codes for best practices, policies, and tools to support any organization’s business operations. On the other hand, controls refer to the measurements your company has taken against the data vulnerability. As you can see, controls and frameworks vary depending on the organizations you work for. However, some of the most common cybersecurity frameworks are:

  1. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  2. International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
  3. Center for Information Security (CIS)
  4. System and Organization Controls 2 (SOC 2)

3. Intrusion detection

As a cybersecurity analyst, you should have a good nose to detect possible intrusions. You should have a fair knowledge of intrusion detection software, like intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM) products, and intrusion prevention systems (IPS). 

4. Network security control

Network security plays a major role in preventing cyberattacks. Companies that rely on collaboration, in terms of network, are highly exposed to cyber threats. Being a cybersecurity specialist, you should have a thorough knowledge of wired and wireless networks. 

5. Operating systems 

There are no operating systems that are cyber threat-proof! Whether it is mobile or computer, an outdated OS is a great threat to cybersecurity. Being a cybersecurity expert, you should have a good knowledge of MacOS, Windows, Linux, and other operating systems. You will need to learn about iOS and Android too. 

6. Incident response

When preventing cyberattacks is the prime goal of a cybersecurity expert, you should also know how to respond to an incident and minimize the damage or data loss. You have to design your organization’s incident response plan wisely. Having knowledge about digital forensics and malware analysis will be an advantage in this scenario. 

7. Cloud implementation and management

Organizations are hugely dependent on cloud sharing because of its scalability. If your organization were to start adopting cloud technologies, having expertise in this would be a massive help to your colleagues. 

8. DevOps

It’s common knowledge that applications are prone to various cybersecurity risks due to their invasive nature. As a result, companies are putting more weight into software development and operations (DevOps) to minimize security threats. 

9. Regulatory guidelines

The job of a cybersecurity analyst is not just limited to keeping the organization safe from cyber threats and thefts but also complying with industrial regulatory guidelines. If your organization is spreading its wings globally, you have to make sure that you cover the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). On the other hand, if your organization is related to the healthcare system, then you have to take the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) into account. 

10. Application security and protection

Now that your organization is expanding, it has to rely on multiple external applications. To be a recognized cybersecurity specialist, you have to have an understanding of application security and protection.

11. Logical reasoning and troubleshooting

The ability to think critically and draw conclusions based on evidence, and identifying and solving problems are essential skills for cybersecurity professionals. They need to be able to identify and analyze security threats, as well as develop and implement solutions to mitigate those threats. New security threats are constantly emerging, thus cybersecurity specialists need to be able to quickly understand these threats in order to develop effective defenses. It is therefore critical for anyone in the industry to be up to date on the ever-changing threat landscape. 

12. Automation implementation

Understanding technology is of utmost importance for an aspiring cybersecurity expert. You should learn all the risks and benefits of automation. You have to apply or revoke an automated process for the benefit of the organization. 

13. Adaptability

In correlation with the rapid technological advancement, evolved methods of cyberattacks and new threats are constantly on the rise. Cybersecurity specialists, therefore, need to have the ability to adapt according to these newly released technologies and their updates.

14. Communication skills

Cybersecurity specialists typically take care of all of the technological challenges that an organization is facing or likely to face. While assessing potential cybersecurity risks and taking care of technical challenges, they need to build a team consisting of people who are less tech savvy. Therefore, effective communication skills are required so that all types of team members can understand their instructions clearly and perform their duties effectively. This is particularly true if you are a cybersecurity specialist and working remotely, as you will need to pass on the necessary instructions on voice calls or videos. 

15. Attack surface management

If you are a cybersecurity expert, you must have a fair knowledge of ethical hacking. The knowledge of ethical hacking offers an advantage in analyzing an organization’s potential risks from the viewpoint of a hacker. Hence, a cybersecurity expert can identify the point of vulnerabilities beforehand and keep the organization safe from potential breaches. 

16. Access management

Cybersecurity specialists of an organization have the power to share data access with individuals. Hence, they possess the ability to control access management. In simple terms, cybersecurity experts know who is accessing which data and if they are exploiting it! They can monitor and verify the identity of individuals before authorizing access to the company data. No doubt, access management is a very important skill for cybersecurity experts to possess. 

17. Threat knowledge

Know your enemy! To be a fully fledged cybersecurity expert, you have to stay up-to-date about the current threat landscape. If you have started your journey as a cybersecurity expert recently, then you should follow the current news on cyber threats and stay up-to-date. 

How To Improve Cybersecurity Skills?

Cybersecurity is not just a demanding profession, but it is challenging too! The dark web is growing and continuing to gulp the system. Being a cybersecurity specialist, you have to be up-to-date and possess the most advanced knowledge in the industry.

So, here is how to improve your cybersecurity skills:

1. Take classes

Your study days are not over yet, and will never be! Learning cybersecurity fundamentals is not enough. Enroll in different classes that will sharpen your cybersecurity fundamentals. Acquire more specific technical skills such as incident response or network security. You can also earn a Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate and showcase the badge. 

2. Stay up to date

There is no alternative to staying up to date. Your technical cybersecurity skills should be on point. You should stay connected with research analysts, podcasts, and YouTube channels so you don’t fall behind on the latest trends and the constantly evolving cybersecurity landscape.

3. Become certified

Organizations that are looking to hire cybersecurity experts aren’t just looking for x number of years’ worth of experience, they are also seeking an exceptional skillset that can be developed while studying for cybersecurity certificates from recognized institutions. For instance, certifications from the following institutions can add stars to your resume and make you stand out from the crowd: 

  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • SANS/GIAC Certification
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

As we have discussed earlier, to become a successful cybersecurity expert, you should have a profound understanding of the overall cybersecurity landscape, and earning a degree or certificate from a reputable institution such as St. Bonaventure University will support and propel your professional career within the industry.

Cybersecurity Skills In The Workplace

If you want to earn the trust of management and your colleagues, then you have to demonstrate your skills effectively. Especially, if you can showcase your ability to handle sensitive and valuable company data. Here are three effective ways to use your cybersecurity skills in the workplace:

1. Make recommendations

You should always come up with a list of recommendations to improve the security system of the company. For that, analyze the company’s cybersecurity as well as the potential threats. Also, consider the management’s capability to mitigate the potential threats. Your recommendations must include hardware, software, external applications, and other prominent security measures.

2.  Update systems and processes

There is no alternative to the updated systems and software. Make sure people in your organization are using up-to-date systems and applications. You can involve the management and team leaders to improve work efficiency and prevent potential threats. 

3. Effective communication

Always remember that other people working in your organization may not be as technologically advanced as you are. Therefore, avoid using the technical geek language. Always share your instructions with other workers in layman’s terms and come up with video presentations if required to teach fellow employees.

Cybersecurity Specialist Job Responsibilities

Now that we have discussed the skills that every cybersecurity expert should possess, let us share the job responsibilities of an established cybersecurity specialist:

1. A cybersecurity expert must put necessary security measures when developing a data center, building network, and software systems. 

2. Protecting the company’s important assets and data from unauthorized access. 

3. Evaluating and identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities in hardware and software. 

4. Come up with the most compelling ways in terms of securing IT infrastructure.

5. Testing the security strategies and defenses meticulously.

6. Building firewalls or improving firewall strength according to the company’s requirements. 

7. Always monitor for potential intrusions and cyber attacks. 

8. Giving training and spreading awareness among colleagues regarding security protocols and best practices. 

9. Prepare monthly security reports and share the same with the management and the company stakeholders for appraisal. 

10. Identifying potential vulnerabilities and taking appropriate measures to mitigate them. 

11. Identifying the source of attacks and removing the threat. 

12. Keeping an eye on the new strategies taken by the cyber criminals that often surface in the news. 

13. Keep updating security measures depending on the expansion and changes going on in your company.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Coding Required For Cybersecurity?

You may stumble into some entry-level cyber security posts that do not require coding knowledge. However, if you want to grow in this field, then coding knowledge is mandatory.

What Are The Possible Cyber Security Specialist Career Paths? 

If you are a cybersecurity job seeker and have acquired the required skills as we have discussed in this article, then you can apply for the job titles like – Security Specialist, Information Security Specialist, IT Security Specialist, and IT Specialist Information Security.

Do I Need A Master’s Degree To Be A Cybersecurity Specialist?

The hiring of a cybersecurity specialist depends on the hands-on industry experience, education and certifications. However, possessing a Master’s degree will boost your chances to get selected by any company. 


In a nutshell, to become a successful cybersecurity analyst or specialist, you have to have knowledge about coding, scripting, network security control, operating systems, Cloud, and DevOps. It may sound a little difficult but, if you have a passion for cybersecurity, perseverance and hard work will pay off in the end.

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