Why and How to Become a Security Engineer

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The main role of a security engineer is to develop IT security solutions and maintain them for a company or an organization. This job is considered as an intermediate level job where you are to handle security issues for your organization’s projects and systems and further work on any technical skills that may appear along the way while your work there.

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There are many responsivities given by the following list which you should expect when getting the job of a security engineer.

  • You are expected to think of creating new ways for the sake of getting an existent security related problem solved.
  • You should install a necessary intrusion detection or prevention system integrated within the organization’s network.
  • It is also your responsibility to install and configure firewalls and add security rules.
  • You should also be responsible for undertaking some tasks related to risk assessment and analysis and vulnerability testing.
  • You should be available to design many security scripts that can deal with security incidents in terms of tracking them and responding to them as well. In fact, incident response and the way to deal with it technically is one of your main responsibilities as a Security Engineer.
  • You are also responsible to conduct your investigations towards intrusion incidents when they occur. Also, you should handle forensics investigation procedures and mount incident responses.
  • You should take part with your team in different important security domains such as authorization, authentication, and encryption methods.
  • You should always be thinking of the security capabilities of your organization and further do your best to reinforce them and make enhancements through deploying new technologies after testing its effectiveness.
  • You should test any security solution that you come up with before applying it into the organization’s internal system. For this purpose, standard analysis criteria have to be adhered to.
  • All the findings that you get from such testing, should get fully documented in details. You should submit a clear report regarding what you found to your principals.
  • While going through a project’s lifecycle, you should always relate to any issues regarding information security.
  • Any changes that happen to software, hardware, facilities, telecommunications and user needs should be all under your own supervision as a security engineer.
  • You should set the security policies to be applied within the entire organization. This is your own responsibility to always implement and maintain these policies.
  • You should be up to date with modern security technologies and analyze them and make sure that all programs of the organization comply to recognized security standards.
  • Give your recommendations to the legal teams, other teams, or other principals of the company in case you find something needs modification in the area of legal, technical and regulatory domains.

In fact, if you work for a large-scale organization, it is customary for you to report to a security manager who is above you according to the positions hierarchy.

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To cut long story short, a security analyst is more concerned with breaking the system whereas a security engineer is concerned more with fixing these systems. To elaborate more on this point, you will find a security engineer attempting to deploy security solution to the system as an attempt to make it secured as much as possible. This involves deploying some tools like firewalls, IDS, etc into the organization’s system. On the other hand, a security analyst will not be excited about something more than his excitement about finding the weaknesses and vulnerabilities within the system through performing tasks like pen-testing, auditing, etc.

It is also worth noting before we move on, that employers always do not make that much of a difference when they post their job and they just mention their need for a “Security Analyst/Engineer”.

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Well, you could start with this position in a company and from there try to get some managerial skills through one of the following positions given in the list. Taking such a managerial position will add to your experience and give you a great flexibility for your future career.

  • Security Architect
  • Security Manager
  • Security Consultant

After standing on a solid background in terms of technical and managerial capabilities, you should then consider taking a C-suite position such as:

  • Security Director
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
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In fact, the word security engineer is common in the marketplace. It is usually the case that employers attach a third word it like in the examples given by the following list. These may make the job functions more specialized to some extent yet they do not completely change them. To illustrate, of the following list you will find a job named Network Security Engineer. There is no main difference between a Network Security Engineer and a normal Security Engineer except when it comes to networking systems. You will find the Network Security Engineer more involved in implementing, maintaining and integrating WAN, LAN and server architecture.

  • Network Security Engineer
  • Information Assurance Engineer
  • Information Security Engineer
  • Information Systems Security Engineer
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A security engineer usually earns $85,177 on an average basis according to PayScale. The minimum salary that was found for this job is around $55,338 while the maximum is about $127,123. This definitely includes your base annual salary, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable.

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If you are still an undergraduate student and are interested in this job, go and get a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Cyber Security or a related field. This job is mainly a technical job which requires from you to be well founded in the field to take it.

Nevertheless, if you are a graduate and are interested in the job, you still have the chance to get the job by gaining a master’s degree with a concentration in IT Security. Of course, besides your master’s degree or bachelor’s degree, always pay attention to work experience, IT security trainings and professional certifications.

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Both the size and the scope of the organization where you are to work determine the amount of experience that you really need to make a good Security Engineer candidate. In fact, the experience required for this job vary a lot between one organization to another according to their requirements. According to different job postings, the range varies between 1 and 10 years for this job. Yet, there are some companies which ask for a Senior Security Engineer. This mainly implies that the job is more of close to a security manager position but with less authorities. The range here goes between 5 to 10 years.

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Since this is a heavily technical job, you should aid yourself with tons of security tools and software tools in general in order to attract potential employers to choose you other than any other candidates for the same job. Some of the hard skills that we though would be the best to have for the functions of a Security Engineer position is given in the coming list.

  • You should be comfortable using and implementing Intrusion Detection or Intrusion Prevention systems.
  • You should be skillful in both penetration testing and vulnerability assessment tasks.
  • You should be completely aware of protocols used for intrusion and prevention detection as well as firewalls.
  • You should be knowledge of all the practices used for secure coding. Also, methodologies of ethical hacking and threat modeling should be of your knowledge.
  • It is needless to state that you should be aware and comfortable using both Windows and Unix like operating systems.
  • You should be standing on a solid ground when it comes to virtualization and the implementation of it to try and test your security solutions.
  • You should understand how to deal with database systems such as MySQL/MSSQL.
  • You should know what is meant by identity and access management and their principles.
  • You should always be updated with any emerging trends or methods used for securing applications or encrypting data and information using the most advanced technologies and standards.
  • You should understand how to achieve maximum security with appropriate network architectures.
  • You should be aware of network concepts such as subnetting, DNS, VPNs, VLANs, VoIP and other network routing methods.
  • You should be aware of protocols used for networks and in web in general such as TCP/IP, UDP, IPSEC, HTTP, HTTPS, routing protocols, etc
  • You should be able to apply cybersecurity in many domains such as gateway antimalware, enhanced authentication, and know how to implement network access controllers (NAC).

You should finally be concerned with Advanced Persistent Threats (APT), social engineering and different methods used for phishing in order to protect the organization’s systems and networks form such attacking techniques.

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In fact, the best soft skills that you should add support yourself with to be a perfect security Engineer are your problem-solving skills. In fact, you will be dealing with abundant security problems that you are supposed to get solved for the organization, so your creativity as well as such skills will help you a lot along the way.

Also, like any other corporate positions, having a strong oral and communications skills will be of great importance as you will be dealing with your colleagues and some other teams within the organization. The way you handle stress and your ability to work under pressure for many hours are also two skills that an employer really wants to see when selecting between you and some other candidates for the same position of a Security Engineer.

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Well, I would say that it is always important to certify yourself along the way whilst pursuing your career in the cybersecurity field. This is really how you prove yourself and your skills top employers who get impressed by such certifications. The following list is supposed to be the most important certificates to consider for the job as a Security Engineer, yet you are not acquired to get all of these certifications for this particular job. I would always advise you to look carefully at the job requirements and the certificates needed by the employer in particular.