How to Become a Security Consultant

Oct 12, 2021

7 Min Read

To ensure the proper protection of data, companies must hire professionals in various fields of information security. The main responsibility of cybersecurity consultants is to shield their customers’ servers from malicious attacks. In small companies, one employee might be assigned a broad range of tasks. In bigger companies, security advisors tend to focus on a specialized scope of work. 

Sometimes information security graduates will start in one position and transition into another role. Usually, an information security worker will be filling many different shoes.  

Preparing for a career as a security consultant

Start with foundation – Cybersecurity workers are responsible for ensuring the safety of data and network protocols. To do this job, an employee needs to have expertise in networking concepts.

Study the basics – You can’t single-handedly plan a network architecture right away. Start with the basics and gradually expand your expertise into network security. TechRadar has good reading material on cybersecurity careers and tips on how to develop as a professional.

Practice coding – Coding and scripting languages like Python, ES6, Ruby, Perl will be useful towards your career growth start learning them early on to give yourself the best chance of employment.

Set up a lab – Learning the theoretics by reading books is not sufficient for becoming a great professional. Having real-world experience is essential as well. You can get practical experience by setting up a lab where you can practice your craft. Building a lab isn’t as complicated as it sounds. An effective lab can be built with very few material resources.

Improve your credentials – Some people might find this confusing. It’s hard to predict which certificates are going to land you a job. In some cases, you can learn individually, but you still have to pay to participate in an exam. Getting certified can cost you a significant sum of money. If you’re already employed and want to move up the ranks, you can get a certificate at the corporation’s expense. 

Despite how useful certificates are, they shouldn’t be your main concern. Your priority should be to prove your competence and skills. Certificates should be your secondary matter. Skills alone will be more than enough to find a job. If you have skills, you can get certified anytime you want. 

What is a security consultant?

Cybersecurity consultants are professionals who work in this field and have expertise in ensuring the safety of networks from malicious attacks. The system can be protected in different ways. Some cybersecurity experts work as contractors who specialize in a specific area of work. Others are working full-time, but they are assigned a more comprehensive range of responsibilities. Some companies with specific cybersecurity needs have separate departments and employ dozens of cybersecurity professionals.  

Some advisors are employed full-time, while others work for many different companies. Junior security experts sometimes work on setting up the equipment. Senior cybersecurity experts perform tasks that require more experience. In some cases, they might act as advisors to vCISO or other high-ranking security experts. Their input is often used to design the networks securely.

Another form of network security expert is an ethical hacker. These individuals understand the hacking principles to the fullest extent. They are curious and willing to continue learning throughout their career. Their natural curiosity helps them stay informed. This is important for the following reasons:

The patterns in the cybersecurity field are changing all the time. Over time, hackers will attempt to hack your network in new ways. So you have to be prepared.

Cybersecurity is constantly evolving, so professionals working in this field must adapt and change their approach. This will raise their effectiveness in responding to malicious hacker attacks. Today, most data is stored online, so cloud computing security experts need to approach their job differently.

Data leak instances have caused worry for companies. As a result, executives are investing more and more resources into improving the security of their systems. Today, most data is stored online, so cloud computing security experts need to be original and develop breakthrough strategies creatively.

Security consultant skills and experience

Cybersecurity professionals must be qualified in their job and personable as well. As a consultant in this field, you shouldn’t ignore communication and other soft skills.

The following list includes different types of skills that you will need to perform at a high level. These requirements are based on actual job descriptions published online. 

Technical Skills

See the big picture and understand potential threats. Then, take preventive measures to resolve the vulnerability concerns. 

  • Have a good knowledge of equipment and infrastructure principles.
  • Have credentials, such as CISA, CISM, CISSP, and CGEIT certifications.
  • Have a track record of working with clients in an advisory role using your background in architecture standards. 
  • Have a track record of using cybersecurity tools – firewalls, proxies, VPNs, or other instruments that can be used to look after the security platforms. 
  • Proficiency of architecture models, such as the OSI Layer 7 Model.

Soft Skills

  • Track record of leading a team, finishing the projects on time, and high standard of quality control.
  • Advanced ability to collect information and organize the team
  • Advanced communication skills, both written and in speaking roles
  • The ability to work diligently and communicate your work progress to advise your superiors and help them design the strategy. 
  • The ability to talk with employees from many different departments and communicate your concerns. 
  • The willingness to travel for work purposes
  • To plan security strategy based on a big picture perspective. 

What do security consultants do?

Cybersecurity experts aren’t superheroes, but they’re close. Security professionals are working to increase the security of the systems so that malicious hackers can not break-in. Both sides are continually evolving their methods.

Making internet connections safer is at the core of cybersecurity consultants’ jobs. Information security professionals take care of multiple aspects of network security, such as planning, layout, and architecture. However, these responsibilities are only the tip of the iceberg. 

Cybersecurity experts ensure that malicious hackers find it impossible to break into the network and steal the data by doing their jobs. Everyone uses their approach and different methods to achieve this. The most common strategies are categorized as interception, detection, or reaction. Cybersecurity professionals who want to prevent attacks usually implement tools and set up the systems. The people who work on detecting vulnerabilities are busy writing code.  

IT security experts who handle prevention must analyze past intrusions and take preventive measures for the future. Sometimes hackers overcome the network security too quickly. That’s when cybersecurity experts need to get involved and implement preventive measures. 

Once the network is compromised, the most effective method for preventing future attacks is to analyze the security protocols that are currently used. Afterward, an effective security consultant must come up with new security measures and execute them. For example, it’s a good idea to start with implementing a multi-layered authentication protocol for all accounts. This way, the security can’t be overcome with a password alone. 

People who work on the detection of vulnerabilities have a different approach. They implement monitoring tools to notice potential break-ins. Sometimes these experts set stricter rules for protective software as well. It is not rare for consultants to fill many different roles. 

Security consultant job description

The exact responsibilities of a cybersecurity expert will depend on the employer. Companies publish vacancy announcements with specific requirements. Still, some prerequisites are always the same. Let’s look at a sample job announcement posted by AWS who are looking for a senior cybersecurity expert:

Long track record of working by industry standards. 

Working by industry standards is essential for success in this field. The most commonly used standards are PCI DSS, ISO 27001, HIPAA, and GDPR. To get hired, it is essential to understand these and other required principles. 

Security degree or years of experience

The explanation: Sometimes a cybersecurity consultant is required to have a degree, sometimes not. You should at least provide proof of knowledge that you gained throughout your career. Closely working with clients to assess vulnerabilities in their AWS system. 

To be an information security expert, you must have a deep understanding of your specialty. Still, it’s nice to have skills across multiple fields of cybersecurity. 

Being eager to educate yourself and your peers is essential. You must be willing to design security measures for intelligence community clients as well. To perform this job, you must work to sharpen your technical skills. In addition, you must be willing to share your insights with other professionals in the field. The explanation: Having technical abilities is essential but not enough to succeed. You must be a good team player. To succeed as a cybersecurity consultant, you must be willing to teach others and yourself. 

Security advisors are expected to visit the customers’ locations to perform necessary services.

The explanation: Vital part of this job entails traveling. Do not join if you’re uncomfortable with the travel aspect of the job. 

Thorough knowledge of Cloud Computing patterns. Track record of working on building AWS solutions

The explanation: Cloud computing is a very distinct security field, so this is a natural requirement. Many companies are using cloud computing, so if you’ve been working in the industry, you’ve likely had to deal with cloud computing tasks as well. 

Track record of giving Technical sales advice

The explanation: Some cybersecurity experts also consult with the sales team.

The information above only represents one sample. Many jobs also require the candidate to be proficient in programming languages. PowerShell, Python, JS, Bash, Ruby, and Perl proficiency are the most common expectations. Employers also like candidates to have project management skills.

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