How to become a successful freelance cyber security specialist

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The future outlook for work is changing with more employees working in environments best suited to their needs, whether at home or overseas.

There is no longer a need to work in the office from 9 to 5. This is especially evident in cyber security, with many cyber security specialists switching to freelance careers. 

Cyber security freelancing is the beauty of working across online platforms and only really needing the foundational skills, knowledge of new technologies, a reliable internet connection, and necessary tools. 

With an entrepreneurial mindset, the world is your oyster and you can travel the world while pursuing your cyber career path. Here’s how to get started.

Compile your interests and strengths to determine your cyber career path

Every career path quiz asks you what your favourite school subject was. It is a great starting point to figure out the direction you want to take in your career because your best subjects are almost always the ones that capture your interest. Write a list of your interests and strengths, so you have a visual guide to determine your cyber career path. 

It is also highly recommended that you browse through freelancing directories to get a feel for the competition and the jobs advertised. Once you have an outline of the route you want to take, you can navigate your cyber career path by bridging your skills gap. 

Bridge your skills gap with industry-focused cyber security certifications

Prospective employers are looking for a mixed skillset, an in-depth knowledge of foundational skills and specialist skills in multiple areas. You will attract more clients if you have experience in non-technical areas like business, law and marketing. Freelancing requires an entrepreneurial mindset, and you will need to study new technologies. It would help if you bridged your skills gap with industry-focused certifications – and there are plenty of different cyber security certifications to consider. 

You need to ensure that your foundational skills are solid to sharpen your mixed skillset to a higher level. The foundational skills that every cyber security specialist should have are networking skills, risk and toolkit management. You will also need to broaden your horizons and gain industry-focused cyber security certifications ensuring that you learn intrusion detection, programming and vulnerability assessment. You will be working across a number of online platforms, so a mixed skill set is needed to navigate your way through the varying security tasks. 

Maintain an entrepreneurial mindset while building a mixed skillset 

Technology is advancing so rapidly that it seems like as soon as you purchase an iPhone 11, the 12 has hit the shelves. The consistent changes also occur with cyber security, so an entrepreneurial mindset will support you to acquire the skills required to use and work with new technologies. You need to think of yourself as your own business and commit to constantly building upon your skillset. 

Let’s take freelance penetration testing as an example; one of the most popular freelance jobs available in cyber security, especially web application pen-testing. 

There are a number of tools available for freelance pen-testers that are free and open-source. It would be wise to hone your skills on these tools before purchasing the pro versions. 

Register your cyber security expertise on freelancing directories 

Freelancing directories are an excellent resource for searching for emerging job opportunities as a freelance cyber security specialist. You can travel the world and find work onsite in that city or work remotely because the directories are global. There are a number of freelancing directories you can use to find work. Here are our top picks:

    • Upwork – One of the most popular freelancing directories and the most promising website to find a job. 
    • BugCrowd – This website caters to those interested in freelance pen-testing and vulnerability assessments. 
    • HackerOne – Another website for freelancer pen-testers with a job board where companies list their products and freelancers search for any security flaws.

Emerging job opportunities as a freelance cyber security specialist 

According to a Keeper Security report, 64% of small businesses were the target of a cyber attack. Unfortunately, small businesses do not have the financial resources to hire a full-time cyber security specialist, so they turn to freelancers. 

The key areas for emerging job opportunities for a freelance cyber security specialist:

    • Computer Security Incident Response – Freelancers can identify security breaches and train businesses on how to deal with them and avoid future attacks. 
    • GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance) – Freelance cyber security specialists can help businesses remain compliant and audit them. 
    • Network & Firewall Support – Firewall is one of the most essential shields against cyber attacks so it is crucial that freelancers ensure there are no loopholes for cyber criminals to slip through. 
    • Penetration Testing – As mentioned above, freelance pen-testing is a popular freelance cyber career path that many cyber security specialists take due to small businesses needing the test but unable to afford to employ a permanent pen-tester. 
    • Vulnerability Assessment – Freelancers can use vulnerability scanners to assess applications and systems. 
    • Web application security – Cyber security specialists looking to go down this career path will need a mixed skillset to repair web application viruses. 

Take the next step in your cyber career path and work as a freelance cyber security specialist. You will be developing your skill set and learning new skills across the globe. It is an incredibly exciting opportunity to switch to freelance, and you will be helping many small businesses starting up in their sector. 

If you are interested in bridging your skills gap, book a consultation with an Institute of Data consultant now.

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