Succeeding in Security

Posted on by Ryan Berg

If you are in the midst of a career change, you might want to consider entering the cybersecurity market, expected to grow from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020. 

More than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. are unfilled, and as worldwide cyber threats become more sophisticated and prevalent, organizations are depending on security professionals for their success.

Of course, this is anything but an easy gig—trying to make sure bad things won’t happen, even though just about everyone agrees it's inevitable they will. Given this pressure, no one could really blame security professionals for not exactly feeling confident about security, but we've found that many are actually optimistic about where the industry is heading and what’s possible. To start your path in security— or continue growing in your career—it’s important to understand what the role entails and the challenges that lie ahead.

What It Takes to Be Successful

For me, getting into security was somewhat of an accident. I originally had dreams of becoming the next great percussionist, but eventually ended up working in a paper mill. After having my first child, I realized I needed to make a career change. Having had success with math, I decided to go back to school to get my engineering degree. I ended up hitting the market at the right time, fell into security, and have been working in the field ever since.

My experience in this industry is that it’s fast-changing. What once was considered a best practice can quickly become stale in the face of new, complex threats to organizations. It’s critical for security pros to stay current with what’s changing in the industry and also understand how those trends impact their organization—from considerations about what’s right for a small versus a large company and keeping up with regulations for your industry.

Most important for security pros is to be proactive, and when possible, to feel empowered to make changes to better secure your organization’s business-critical data. One question I get asked a lot (from newcomers to the field) is how they can become an expert? I usually respond by saying it’s not by asking the question, it’s by doing the work, and that means asking yourself every day not what you are going to do but measuring yourself by what you did do.

Challenges in Security

One of the biggest challenges in security stems from the pressure of customers. Our customers put a huge amount of trust in our industry's technology. What keeps me up at night, and motivates me to do more, is a strong desire to live up to that trust.

To better serve customers, it’s important for security pros to understand and relay that security isn’t just one person’s responsibility. To be effective, you need to develop a culture of security that transforms it into a company-wide effort. As security professionals, we must be prepared to be the face of that transformation and lead by example.

Even if you’re using the absolute best software available, spending money on an impressive solution is a waste if no one knows how to leverage it properly. 

It used to be really hard to describe what I do for work—but these days, I just ask if anyone has ever gotten their credit card stolen and when someone nods and I say, “I’m working to prevent that.”

I’m in the fight to make technology safer and more satisfying. Not everybody leaves with a smile in security, but I’m most proud of my efforts to change that.

Ryan Berg

Chief Scientist, Barkly

professional development & workforce

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