Top 5 highest in demand cyber security contract roles

As technology evolves, the risk of cyber-attacks continues to increase. Little wonder, then, we’re now seeing demand for cyber-security expertise reach an all-time-high as organisations strive to safeguard their vast digital assets.

For IT contractors, finding a role in cyber-security all comes down to skillset and an ability to leverage a range of technical skills to help protect company data. But what cyber security contract roles are the highest in demand, as 2024 fast-approaches?

Here, exclusively for ContractorUK, I will reveal the five key contractor roles in this space, which are in effect emerging as the foundation of modern cyber-security, writes James Campbell-Clause, cyber security recruitment team lead at STEM recruitment specialist Matchtech.

Setting the cyber-security scene for contractors, as 2024 comes into sight

For businesses around the world, cyber-attacks can be devasting. The loss or breach of personal data and confidential corporate information can cause both reputational and financial damage, meaning security is paramount.

Currently, with 2023’s final quarter upon us, we’re starting to see a significant increase in the demand for very specific skill-sets within cyber-security.

While the industry is incredibly lucrative, bursting with opportunity, the demand for experts still outweighs the number of candidates, meaning there is more pressure on existing IT security professionals to fill these roles.

1. Senior SOC Analysts and Incident Responders

SOC, also known as the Security Operations Centre, analysts, serve as the front-line to business defences.

The most senior SOC Analysts are hired to keep a vigilant watch over data traffic, continuously assessing and defending against any potential breaches. In short, they triaging cyber-security events as they happen.

Typically, there are three levels of SOC Analysts, ranging from basic traffic monitoring to more advanced incident response professionals -- those who can identify and act accordingly to potential threats.

As companies have become more and more reliant on technology, the focus has shifted significantly, and we’re now seeing an uptick in organisations establishing in-house SOCs, while also recruiting for more Level 2 and Level 3 analysts to bolster their security teams.

2. SIEM and SOAR Engineers

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) and Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response (SOAR) systems, have become essential components of modern cybersecurity strategies.

SIEM and SOAR Engineers play a pivotal role in deploying, integrating, and configuring these systems, and help organisations to streamline breach monitoring and incident-response. In recent years in particular, we have seen Microsoft’s Sentinel platform gain popularity among businesses looking at SIEM and SOAR platforms.

As a result, there is now a larger demand for contractors who are proficient in implementing the software, monitoring, detecting, investigating, and responding to security incidents effectively.

3. Cyber Security Consultants

At present, technology advances at such a rapid pace it can be hard to keep up!

So now more than ever, businesses are finding themselves in need of dedicated Cyber Security Consultants to safeguard digital change programmes and technology implementation projects.

A sought-after Cyber Security Consultant has a deep understanding of cyber threats and combines technical know-how with a deep understanding of information security controls. They provide invaluable security assurance to internal projects; ensure they align with company procedures and can pre-empt any potential risks and pitfalls.

4. Cyber Threat Intelligence Consultants

In sectors like finance, banking, and insurance, Cyber Threat Intelligence Consultants have become indispensable.

As cyber insurance products advance, these experts collaborate with Cyber Underwriters and Actuaries. They also advise clients on emerging threats, ensuring a proactive stance against potential risks.

The reports of a CTIC enable business leaders to make informed decisions aligned with their risk appetite.

5. OT Security Consultants

In the last few years as technology has moved on, evolving business and technological landscapes have resulted in Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology (IT) becoming more closely aligned.

Most OT environments form part of our National Critical Infrastructure, so without proper security measures in place, catastrophic problems for both businesses -- and the country at large -- could ensue.

The need to mitigate this dual risk has surged demand for OT Security Consultants who specialise in assessing, planning, implementing, and managing security measures for OT environments.

Primarily, their focus is on safeguarding critical infrastructure, industrial systems, and operational technology assets from cyber threats, but to be one, you must also be well-versed in overall risk assessment, patchwork management, and compliance.

Cyber security skills 2024: a tech contractor’s need-to-know

Today, the world of cyber-security is continuing to evolve faster than ever, and each of the above five skills has a tangible impact on daily corporate life and organisations’ operations. In recent months and years, each of these skills has evolved, not just to build on cyber-security but also to leverage technology to automate processes.

Looking ahead to 2024, we will continue to see these five fundamental technology security roles shift and develop, as more technologies are developed. Ultimately, this means the demand for IT contractors with proficiency in specific areas of cyber-security will continue to grow.

However, at the time of writing, cyber-security is at a critical crossroads because the demand for professionals outweighs the number of professionals, creating a significant skills gap.

For suitably skilled contractors, this increased demand has resulted in both a higher earning potential and a wider variety of roles. And that wider variety of roles makes keeping pace with the evolving landscape more challenging, but necessary.

So for IT contractors, the best advice is to continually be abreast of how security technology develops, and then continue to enhance your skill-set to reflect those developments. Ultimately though, the moment you get comfortable with any single security technology is the very moment you will fall behind. Good luck!

Thursday 12th Oct 2023
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Written by James Campbell-Clause

James is a cyber-security recruitment expert with over eight years of professional experience. He focuses on recruiting mid to senior-level technical security professionals, including Security Architects, Engineers, CISOs, directors, and Heads of Information Security. He is committed to promoting inclusion and equality in all STEM fields and empowers both candidates and clients to create a more supportive environment for future STEM professionals.

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