Secure your future with the MSc Cyber Security
In an increasingly digital world, everything and everyone is connected. From smart phones to smart homes, fintech to Facebook, every day we are exposing more and more of our data to the threat of cyber attack. And with an estimated talent gap of 3.5 million roles worldwide, one thing is clear: there’s never been a greater need for cyber security professionals. We spoke to industry expert, Liz Murray, about why cyber security is much more about people than technology.
The more we use technology in almost every aspect of our lives, the more vulnerable we become to cyber attacks.
In 2022, UK organisations were subjected to an average of 788 cyber attacks every week, an increase of more than 70% compared to 2021. Globally the number of cyber attacks also reached a record high in the fourth quarter, with nearly 1,200 attacks per organisation each week.
The University of London, in partnership with member institution Royal Holloway, has developed a brand new MSc in Cyber Security. Available to study fully online from anywhere in the world, the programme includes modules such as ‘Cybercrime’, ‘Applied Cryptography’ and ‘Security and Behaviour Change’. You can begin by studying individual modules and build up your credits to a Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or the full Masters.
Technology is fine but security is really all about people…you have to be able to explain the ‘so what’ to bring people along with you.
Liz Murray spent the first 20 years of her career in the military, working first as an Air Traffic Controller in the RAF before moving into the army. When she left, she never expected to begin a career in cyber security, as she explained.
“During my resettlement from the military I said categorically I didn’t want to work in cyber security and I didn’t want to work for a bank. A few months later I had accepted a role as cyber lead for a global bank! It was during a careers event that I got chatting to one of only three other women in the room and I realised how my skills crossed over with cyber. As an Air Traffic Controller you’re a dynamic risk assessor and you have to act quickly to keep people safe. In industry, you’re actually allowed much longer to do that risk assessment, everything moves at a much slower pace.”
My natural instinct was to want to help people understand why they need to keep safe.
Liz soon realised that her passion lay in education within cyber and she moved from Risk and Control into Cyber Security Awareness, Culture and Training. Since then she has worked for a global, growing wealth management platform provider and has recently started a new role as Enterprise Customer Success Manager for a cyber security education platform.
“My natural instinct was to want to help people understand why they need to keep safe,” Liz explained. “In every cyber threat there is a people risk – there’s a person in the loop. So it’s my job to translate the technical elements into a language everyone can understand.
“Technology is fine but security is really all about people. You have to understand what’s going on, what the risk is and how will it affect people. But most importantly you have to be able to explain the ‘so what’ so you can bring people along with you. If the security isn’t easy for people to use it won’t work because they will simply cut corners and bypass it. It’s all about communication.”
With threats on the increase, one of the biggest challenges Liz faces in her role is explaining that responsibility lies with everyone.
She said: “One of the biggest misconceptions is that cyber is not their problem – someone else will protect them so they don’t have to worry about it. That’s all very well until someone steals your data.
“The other misconception is that cyber is all technical – I’m not deeply involved in the technical side. You don’t have to be a tech genius, at a leadership level, with an understanding of what protection layers are needed to mitigate risks, you can learn all you need to know on the job. Understanding the areas being managed on your behalf is key, you don’t need to have a deep understanding of the individual tooling, or need an ability to code.”
The range of roles available in cyber is incredible, there’s something for everyone.
The UK’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport has estimated there is a shortfall of 14,000 new entrants to the cyber security workforce. As demand outstrips supply, those with the much needed skills can take their pick of roles.
“The range of roles available in cyber is incredible, there’s something for everyone,” Murray said. “You have the very technical jobs in things like application and cloud security; but there are also roles in policy, training and education, physical security, governance, risk and compliance, and data privacy. The list is really endless, and there are roles in every single sector – every large organisation will have either an information security or a cyber security team.”
So what’s her advice for anyone considering a role? “Start with networking.”
“Look on LinkedIn for influencers who interest you. There’s a massive community and you can join something like the Security Awareness Special Interest Group (SASIG). There are also lots of cyber security organisations who run webinars – you can find out what those organisations do and where you may fit.”
“Start by looking within your own organisation. There will be someone who is doing information security – ask them for a chat and think about what roles might suit you.”
Find out how you can secure an exciting new role in a booming industry, with the MSc Cyber Security.
*Liz Murray is not affiliated with the University of London but spoke about her personal experiences of and career within the Cyber Security industry.