Top in-demand Cybersecurity Skills in 2023 – Spiceworks News and Insights

Advanced skills can help cybersecurity professionals land the best jobs in the market. Here are the top in-demand cybersecurity skills one should master to thrive.

The demand for cybersecurity professionals is rising every year due to the existing skills gap and the rising threat from cybercrime. However, cybersecurity professionals also need to equip themselves with advanced skills and know-how to land the best jobs. Here’s a look at the top in-demand cybersecurity skills for 2023.
Cybersecurity is a complex field, encompassing everything from mitigating threats and identifying weaknesses in networks, systems, and applications to recovering lost data when a cyberattack occurs. Yet, any self-motivated tech professional willing to acquire these ten most-sought-after cybersecurity skills can qualify for a highly lucrative career in cybersecurity.
Here are the ten most sought-after cybersecurity skills employers look for in those seeking cybersecurity positions:
A solid understanding of networking, including data transmission protocols and services that protect your organization’s data, is the first prerequisite for becoming a cybersecurity professional. You should have a working knowledge of network protocols such as TCP/UCP, HTTP, ICMP, DNS and SMTP, and network security device functions, such as firewalls (IDS/IPS/WAF), proxy, DNS and load balancers. 
Other network technologies you should be familiar with include Network/Endpoint/Extended Detection and Response systems (NDR/EDR/XDR), Network Access Control (NAC) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).
As a network security professional, you will be responsible for creating and implementing secure network architectures that are protected against cyberattacks. Thus, understanding IT infrastructure and secure network architect skills like zero-trust architecture is essential for designing, implementing, and protecting distributed, interconnected networks. As organizations connect more IoT devices to the Internet, employers will also require you to have IoT security skills.
You should be skilled in working with the most common operating systems, including Linux and Windows, using both graphical and command-line interfaces. You should also have a conceptual knowledge of Windows Active Directory and be familiar with using the Kerberos cybersecurity protocol that uses cryptography to ensure that only approved clients have access to a secured server.
See More: Top Five SASE Certifications for Network Security Practitioners
Cloud security skills are essential to building the architecture that enables secure interactions between applications and the cloud. Thus, organizations seek professionals with security expertise suited for public and hybrid cloud platforms such as Azure, AWS and GCP. And, as more and more companies move to containerized workloads, they require an understanding of Kubernetes as well.  
As Stan Black, CISO at security firm Delinea, explains: “Today’s hybrid security engineer must know how to protect all of the hard targets of the past, plus code scripts and code, and have a handle on Azure, AWS and GCP. They also need expertise hardening Kubernetes and Docker DevOps assets. Being skilled in modern security tool sets for cloud, privileged access and identity management, and real-life implementation of concepts like zero-trust and least privilege, have all become table stakes for operating in today’s environment.”
In its Hype Cycle for Cloud Security, 2021, Gartner said that “nearly all” cloud security breaches stem from user mistakes rather than errors on the part of the cloud service provider. Cybersecurity professionals must be able to design and implement security controls that protect an organization’s cloud infrastructure. Thus, you will need Web Application Firewall (WAF) and Identity and Access Management (IAM) expertise. IAM technologies such as multi-factor authentication, passwordless authentication, privileged access management and single sign-on are essential in preventing the majority of data breaches caused by credential theft, social engineering, and other means of compromising users’ accounts. 
According to Burning Glass, the demand for software developers and engineers who can design and build secure online applications is expected to grow by 164% over the next five years. With dozens of different apps across an organization’s teams and functions, all of which could be targeted by hackers, employers are looking for professionals who know how to build, implement and maintain secure applications. A candidate will need to have a good working knowledge of software and application development processes and methodologies and be familiar with common security threats to web and software applications and how to mitigate them. 
Along with a strong understanding of network security, operating systems and application security, you should also be familiar with standard hacking tools and techniques. You must learn how hackers think and work to develop the skills to protect organizations from malicious attacks.
For any organization that stores sensitive data, penetration testing must be done regularly. Penetration testers employ hacking techniques to test an organization’s security systems for weaknesses lawfully. In other words, they attempt to break into a system just as an actual hacker would. If a test hack is successful, the cybersecurity team uses the test data to develop better protection strategies and resolve potential vulnerabilities before a malicious hacker takes advantage of the vulnerability. It would help if you were skilled in some standard penetration testing tools such as Nessus, Metasploit, SQLMap and Jawfish. 
Risk assessment is an integral part of a cybersecurity skill set. Risk assessment identifies the security weak points in your systems and then works to mitigate those risks. Penetration testing is part of the risk assessment process. Another is artificial intelligence. AI-powered systems are being used to gather data from millions of nodes throughout networks and evaluate the data in real time to detect patterns of abnormal activity. AI tools are being trained to predict data malware, phishing attempts and social engineering scams before they can do harm.
You should have a good working knowledge of Security Incident and Event Monitoring (SIEM) technologies. SIEM software, such as Splunk, collect data by continuous monitoring activities from a variety of access points. This data, in turn, is used to proactively facilitate both risk assessments and security operations. 
Once a data breach has occurred, you will be expected to be skilled in digital forensics to investigate the attack. Digital forensics involves examining data to discern the source of a cyberattack and how to stop it in the future. Not only must you be proficient in networking and programming, but you must also possess critical thinking skills.
After an attack, you will be expected to recover lost data, identify the attack’s origins, and work to improve cybersecurity defenses so it does not reoccur. You must be able to conduct digital forensics investigations, including malware analysis, image capturing, and analysis for incident response. It would help if you also were skilled in the various forensic software such as EnCase, Helix, XRY and FTK.
All cybersecurity skills require the ability to program. Most employers will require proficiency in at least one, if not more, of the following programming languages: C, C++, PHP, Python, GO, Ruby, HTML MySQL, Javascript, Hadoop, and NET. Knowing these languages will help you discover an attacker’s strategy and enable secure interactions between applications and the cloud.
See More: 12 Cybersecurity Trends Every CISO Must Prepare for in 2023
Linux skills are almost always required of cybersecurity professionals. Because it is an open-source operating system, it can be modified to allow users to scan networks and use system services that proprietary operating systems do not allow. An example is Kali Linux, which was built specifically for penetration testing and digital forensics. 
As a cybersecurity professional, you will be responsible for the oversight and continuous development of your organization’s data security governance program. You will oversee audits and assessments to measure the effectiveness of existing data security controls and report the results of your audits to management.
Most countries require organizations to protect their customers’ personal information, imposing strict penalties on those who experience breaches, whether due to inaction, outdated hardware or software, or lax protocols. To avoid such penalties and reputational loss, organizations must comply with data security regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), PCI, HIPAA, NIST, CPRA, Sarbane-Oxley and FIPS. Many employers require candidates to be familiar with one or more of these regulations.
Beginners in the field should also master configuring, running and maintaining databases to be able to deal with any threat to an organization’s data, whether it occurs as a DDoS attack, phishing, or ransomware. Here, knowledge of programming languages is required for data storage and access management, in addition to managing data protection and privacy in accordance with local regulations. 
The first line of defense against cyberattacks is the user. As a cybersecurity professional, you must build cybersecurity awareness among your organization’s employees. You must be able to train your users in easy-to-understand language on recognizing suspicious behaviors and protecting themselves and the organization from cyber-attacks.
It is not uncommon for the average employee to become susceptible to social engineering, unsafe browsing habits, and other behaviors that put companies at risk. However, for behavior changes to occur, non-security employees must be able to trust their cybersecurity teams. This can only happen when cybersecurity teams exhibit the necessary business leadership skills–excellent verbal and written communication, influence, and emotional intelligence–to build that trust.
Most likely, you will be working with a team of professionals, and thus, your employer will expect you to work well in a group where everyone shares ideas and knowledge to identify system weaknesses and develop a strong defense plan together. Thus, the most important leadership skill you can possess is problem-solving, identifying security issues and finding solutions to defend against them. 
Despite the reports of massive layoffs within the tech industry, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of cybersecurity jobs will grow 33% in the next decade.
As Black explains: “Not only are these skills still in high demand, but skilled individuals in this space continue to command strong compensation packages, even within industries that are hunkering down and becoming conservative on spending in other areas. Having experience and training in these mission-critical areas differentiates the cybersecurity candidate and can move their resume to the top of the list.”
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IT Analyst, CMR Executive Advisory
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