Cyber Security Expert: Salary, Job Opportunities & Required Skills in India

Cyber Security – The University of Maryland reports that hackers attack every 39 seconds, or 2,244 times every day. Against such a backdrop, there has been a noticeable increase in demand for cybersecurity employment over the past several years. A speaker at the recently held technology and innovation summit hosted by the Tamil Nadu government emphasised, ‘If you are going to be in cyber security, you will not be unemployed for the next 40-50 years.’ The government official added that there is going to be massive job growth in this domain and the need for cyber security is just going to scale so rapidly and he also quoted that yesterday’s  i.e. March 5, 2024 attack on Facebook, and Instagram which basically crippled the social media platforms are an immediate validator of the extensive need. In a panel discussion, an Associate Professor stressed the need to create the right talent and bring back focus on the skill development courses in cyber security. He added that ‘Industry plays a vital role and they have to come to terms with emerging skill requirements.’ Data reveals that in 2023, there will be over a million cybersecurity positions available, but by that same year, fewer than 4,00,000 cybersecurity experts would have received adequate training. The industry of cybersecurity is expected to expand by 11% in 2023 and 20% in 2025.

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What is a Cyber Threat?

In simple terms a cyber threat can be defined as a malicious act intended to steal data. We are witnessing a trend where systems are getting more interconnected and as a result the industry is grappling with the increasing number of breaches and sophisticated cyberattacks, driven by different motives.This is quite evident from the rise in cyberattack incidents reported by the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) from 53,081 in 2017 to 2,08,456 in 2018, an increase of about 292%. And guess what! It was network scanning, probing, and vulnerable services that accounted for over 51% of these incidents. The survey also pointed out that business executives acknowledged the increasing high stakes on account of these cyber threats, and hence the urgent need for evaluating their digital risk, and focus on building resilience for the same.

What are the emerging forms of cyber security products and services? 

According to a study, it has been estimated that the market for cyber security products in India will increase at a higher rate than that for services. With organisations investing more in products powered by specialised technologies, the existing portfolio of cyber spending will keep on changing and growing with products becoming dominant. We are aware of the fact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) applications are getting embedded into security intelligence, detection and response (IDR), and endpoint security including security testing. The application of predictive analytics and heuristics in drawing quick statistical inferences has a big role to play in detecting and reducing threats with an optimised number of resources and savings. A natural outcome of these developments is the emerging forms of cyber security products, and platforms offering services specialised in this domain.

Who is a Cyber Security Expert?

A cyber security expert is a specialist in protecting digital assets from cyber threats and attacks. They are commonly referred to as a cyber security expert or specialist. It is their responsibility to set security protocols and safeguards in place and keep them up to date to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive data, protect from threats and theft including other harmful acts from harming the computer systems and the overall organisational networks. Cyber security is more important than ever in the modern digital age because cyberattacks have grown to a humongous proportion over the years as already pointed out. Cyber security experts have to keep up with the state-of-the-art advancements in technology and lurking cyber threats in order to guarantee a higher degree of security for their respective organisations.

Career in Cyber Security in India!

The increase in literacy rate in India has led to accelerated adoption of a digital way of life based on data consumption. At the same time digitalisation of various citizen services by national and state level e-governance initiatives has led to an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks. India has witnessed a significant rise in the IT talent pool over the past few years. However, skilled cyber security professionals are seen as far lesser in comparison. Therefore the urgent necessity for introducing protection mechanisms at multiple touchpoints, including networks, endpoints, applications, cloud, bots, and Internet of things (IoT) environments that are slowly but surely proliferating at an unprecedented scale. Hence, the need for experienced professionals has resulted in companies announcing premium compensations for eligible talent, and thus augmenting the cyber security budget by 71% as observed by PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited in its 2016 report.

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What is the role of a cyber security expert?

  • Performing routine audits and checks to identify security breaches and inefficiencies
  • Modernisation of infrastructure and network systems
  • Establish and uphold security measures
  • Determine and address possible and current security issues
  • Examine the current state of affairs, observe patterns, and project future security needs
  • Prepare performance reports and communicate system status to keep users informed
  • Uphold high-quality service by adhering to company policies
  • Educate and train employees on best practices in cybersecurity 
  • Attend educational workshops to stay up to date on technical expertise
  • Participate in teamwork by completing related tasks as needed

Skill Requirements

  • Fundamental knowledge of computer forensics and IT systems
  • Knowledge of programming languages and operating systems
  • Data management and analysis skills
  • Effective communication and interpersonal skills
  • Analytical and excellent attention to detail
  • Extensive knowledge of network protocols, coding standards and security standards
  • Ability to multitask and prioritise the workload
  • Adaptability

Academic Qualifications

  • 10 + 2 with science and mathematics 
  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT engineering, cybersecurity, system engineering, or computer programming
  • Master’s degree in computer science, cyber security, information technology or related fields
  • PhD in cyber security or related fields

Certifications

The most common and effective certifications in this field are as under:

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
  • Certified Information Security Auditor (CISA)
  • GIAC Certified Incident Handler (GCIH)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP)
  • Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSO-ISSAP)
  • Information Systems Security Engineering Professional (CISSP-ISSEP)
  • Information Systems Security Management Professional (CISSP-ISSMP)

Cyber Security Skill Requirements: Top Cities in India  

Bengaluru

Bengaluru, India’s Silicon Valley, has a high demand for cybersecurity experts due to the booming tech sector and active startup scene. In Bengaluru, cybersecurity experts can earn between ₹3 and ₹11.5 lakh annually.

Delhi (NCR)

Delhi-NCR is a popular destination for cybersecurity experts due to the concentration of government agencies, global businesses, and the quickly expanding IT sector. Cybersecurity professionals in Delhi-NCR typically make between ₹2 and ₹10 lakh a year.

Mumbai

Mumbai’s financial center is crucial to the Indian economy. Cybersecurity is a necessity for the banking and finance industries, driving demand for qualified workers. Cybersecurity specialists in Mumbai earn between ₹3 lakh and ₹15 lakh annually.

Hyderabad

Hyderabad is becoming a hub for cybersecurity due to its growing BPO and IT sectors. The demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals is rising as the city aims to build a cybersecurity ecosystem. This is reflected in the competitive compensation packages offered, with specialists typically earning between ₹3.5 and ₹10 lakh per year.

Pune

Pune has seen a surge in demand for cybersecurity specialists due to its developing industry and IT landscape. As a result, cybersecurity salaries in the city have also increased significantly. The yearly salary range for a cybersecurity specialist in Pune is between ₹3 lakh and ₹14 lakh.

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Cyber Security Jobs in Demand in India

Cybersecurity Analyst

A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for identifying system vulnerabilities and implementing security solutions to counter threats. This role typically pays an average annual salary of ₹5 lakh.

Network Security Analyst

A network security engineer defends corporate assets from cyber attacks by developing and maintaining robust security solutions. The role pays ₹5 lakh annually on average.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

The CISO is a senior executive who ensures the information and data protection of an organisation. They develop and maintain security programs, communicate with stakeholders, and have cybersecurity experience. The CISO’s average annual salary is ₹2 to 4 crore.

Security Architect

Security architects are responsible for creating strong security architectures that counter malware attacks. They also conduct vulnerability assessments and maintain systems, making it a technical role with an average annual pay of ₹5 lakh.

Cybersecurity Manager

A cybersecurity manager oversees network breaches and IT problems, creating and putting into action a management protocol to neutralise hazards. They earn an average annual salary of ₹8 lakh.

Cybersecurity Engineer

Cybersecurity engineers are highly valued for their expertise in designing and implementing secure network solutions. Due to the high demand and shortage of skilled workers, they can earn an average annual salary of ₹6 to ₹10 lakh.

Malware Analyst

A malware analyst identifies online threats like worms, trojans, and viruses, and develops prevention technologies to combat threats posed by these malicious software. They also document how to prevent malware threats. The average annual salary for this role is ₹5 lakh.

Penetration Tester

Penetration testers, or ethical hackers, exploit system weaknesses like a hacker would, and create new penetration tools. They earn an average salary of ₹2 crores per year.

Computer Forensic Analyst

Computer forensic analysts collect digital evidence and extract data while working on cyberattack cases. Their task involves retrieving erased, altered, or stolen data. The average annual pay for this role is ₹7 lakh.

Colleges and Universities Offering Cybersecurity Courses

  • IIT Delhi
  • IIT Kanpur
  • IIT Bangalore
  • CMS College of Science and Commerce, Coimbatore
  • IIT Hyderabad
  • Presidency University
  • Galgotias University
  • IITM Kerala
  • Sharda University
  • IIT Jodhpur
  • VIT Bhopal
  • All NITs and more

Growing Needs and Profile of Cyber Security Experts in India!

There is no denying the fact that for central as well as state governments in India, they need more and more specialists here in India and overall for the world. There is a growing need for skilled cyber security experts simply because the threat is only going to keep increasing. And more so with the advent of AI, there will be new shapes and newer forms of cyber threats. As amplified by V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT-Madras who informed the students that ethical hacking is going to be the next big employment opportunity. Ethical hacking is nothing but an authorised attempt to gain unauthorised access to a computer system for public good, application, or data. Andrew Woodward, Professor at Edith Cowan University stressed on the need and the role of big data analytics in identifying patterns and trends in cyber threats. He also brought into focus the issue of password reuse which is a big problem and cited the fact that in order to reduce the threat one needs to use a password manager. Against such a backdrop and opinion expressed by experts in the IT domain, it can be safely argued that the growing need and profile of a career in the cyber security domain will go from strength to strength hereon. 

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Career in Cyber Security Experts – FAQs

What is meant by cyber security?

Cyber security in simple terms refers to the practice of protecting computer systems from malicious attacks and thereby preventing unauthorised access to the computer networks of an organisation. 

Is cyber security considered a good career?‎

Yes, a career in cyber security is considered very good. It has more open jobs and there are fewer qualified candidates to fill them. These jobs are also well-paid. 

Is cyber security skills hard to learn?‎

Cyber security involves learning several technical skills, and it is completely possible to gain the required knowledge and learn the right skills with the devotion of adequate amount of time and dedicated effort. It is important to learn and practice the acquired cyber security skills and learning each day by setting up your own virtual environment.

What is ethical hacking? ‎

Ethical hacking involves an authorised attempt backed by the government or an organisation to gain unauthorised access to a computer system for common good, application, or data.

What does an entry-level cyber security expert do on a day-to-day basis? ‎

While the entry-level role may depend on the organisation that you work for. In general, role of a cyber security expert on a day-to-day basis may include the following:

  • Automating repetitive security checks tasks
  • Monitoring a computer tools 
  • Responding to alerts and threats 
  • Basic testing
  • Developing security incident reports
  • Researching on newer and emerging threats etc.

What is the role of a computer forensic analyst?

The role of a computer forensic analyst involves collecting digital evidence and extract data in the process of working on cyberattack cases. Their job mainly includes retrieving erased, altered, or stolen data.

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