For this ComputingEdge issue, we asked Dan Haagman—cybersecurity entrepreneur and cofounder of NotSoSecure Global Services, a leading UK penetration-testing and hacking-training firm—about cybersecurity-related career opportunities. In early 2016, the IEEE Computer Society partnered with NotSoSecure to develop cybersecurity eLearning courses for its members.
ComputingEdge: What careers in cybersecurity will see the most growth in the next several years?
Haagman: Currently, there is a global shortage of cybersecurity skills in general. And demand for those capabilities is rising at an unprecedented rate. There are simply not enough people who can code securely or test code for technical vulnerabilities. Developers, by and large, lack coordination in the security methodologies they use, which is natural in any new field. There is a need for individuals who can help move the field forward quickly.
ComputingEdge: What would you tell college students to give them an advantage over the competition?
Haagman: I would say, “Don’t tell me you know how to do something. Show me.” Immerse yourself in hands-on applicable skills. This is critical, whether you work in the public or private sector. Build a lab, participate in knowledge sharing, collaborate. Academics, while not unimportant, are no substitute for experience.
ComputingEdge: What should applicants keep in mind when applying for cybersecurity jobs?
Haagman: Be current. Know what is going on out there now. Also, developers and security testers must be able to sift quickly through data, analyze it effectively, and apply the resulting knowledge to produce an appropriate decision.
ComputingEdge: How can new hires make the strongest impression from the beginning?
Haagman: Show a hunger and desire to develop yourself professionally and to know your subject thoroughly.
ComputingEdge: Name one critical mistake young graduates should avoid when starting their careers?
Haagman: I’ll give you two. First, avoid not having sufficiently broad experience in your field. Immerse yourself in the field, and enjoy yourself. Second, never do anything illegal. Ever. It’s wrong and also totally unnecessary. Respect the Internet and your career. It’s a wonderful playground and opportunity, but remember that your name and integrity are incredibly important. So, never hack or do anything without permission or without having the right safety mechanisms in place. It’s a fundamental moral issue.
ComputingEdge: Do you have any learning experiences you could share that could benefit those just beginning their careers?
Haagman: When I first started my career, I threw myself into every project I could get my hands on. I pursued every certification I could get, built labs, and read every book and website I could. The key is to make sure that your certifications are relevant to your field and your skill level, and that they help you advance. We are in the midst of a magical time—an extraordinary era in tech that we’re unlikely to see again—that brings a significant number of opportunities to those who want a technology career. Make the most of it.
About the Author
ComputingEdge’s Lori Cameron interviewed Haagman for this article. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to contribute to a future ComputingEdge article on computing careers. Contact Haagman at email@example.com.