by Heidi Riley
At a recent virtual career presentation, representatives from a cyber security firm spoke to an audience of UPEI Computer Science students about career opportunities in the cyber security field.
“We have a huge talent shortage in the market right now,” says Jamie Whynacht, CEO, Cyber Island Global, a strategic near-shore solution provider for cyber talent based in Charlottetown. “Currently in North America there are about a million roles open in cyber security, and only 200,000 people are looking for those roles.
“In cyberspace, there are way more good guys than bad guys. The bad guys are not always humans. They are complex algorithms thrown at businesses. We need to use the great tools that are out there, and we need good people who understand the tools and how to utilize them.”
Some Island companies employing Cyber security experts at the moment:
- Bulletproof Solutions
- Cyber Island Global
- Cyber Force
- Amsted Canada
Cyber Island Global works to solve the digital identity talent shortage by recruiting cyber security talent in three ways:
IAM (Identity and Access Management) Consulting: Their team scans the marketplace for IAM candidates in North America to identify the best candidates and bring them to the Cyber Island team and their clients’ projects.
SME (Subject Matter Experts) Immigration: While the IAM employment market in North America is tighter than ever, their network of international recruiters can offer world-class subject matter experts an expedited (four to six-month) immigration path to Canada.
Mentorships: Cyber Island has developed an internship and mentoring program in partnership with their customers and their community. “We certify talented students on cutting edge IAM platforms, while pairing them with our world–class experts on real world projects.” says Jamie. “Participating clients then get right-of-first refusal at a reduced rate as these stars of tomorrow exit the program.”
Cyber Security recruitments common in the Atlantic Canada region
Joe Flower, with Cyber Force, listed the many jobs they work to fill in the Atlantic Canada region.
- IAM Consultant “IAM is certainly a growing part of the cyber security industry which will be providing a number of jobs in the coming years for graduates.”
- Digital Identity Consultant manages risk and security for companies. “Technologies within that field include SailPoint, CyberArk, Okta, and Saviynt. We are already seeing skills gaps in this area now. The more niche you go in the cyber security field, the more money you could potentially make and the more opportunities you may get for interesting positions.”
- Penetration Tester “The Penetration Testing role is known quite well by outsiders to the industry and is seen to be the ‘coolest’ role to hold. However, this position requires a strong analytical mindset. Penetration Testing roles come up frequently in Atlantic Canada and pay very well for the current IT market.”
- SOC Tier 1 “SOC Tire 1 is a brilliant entry-level role into cyber security. It is commonly either a step up from an IT Security Analyst, or when looking at job ads, the term IT Security Analyst can mean Tier 1 SOC.”
- Ethical Hacker “Achieving your CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) is a real advantage when going into the cyber industry, and a number of companies are on the lookout for it. Ethical Hackers look for vulnerabilities within an organization and report on their findings.”
“The area of cybersecurity is vast, and there are so many roles,” says Joe. “Some jobs do not require the hands-on technical knowledge and just need to understand the theory or premise. Examples include working in specialized IT Sales or Marketing positions.”
Employers may also look for more than a Computer Science degree when they hire. “They may also want to know what you have done on your own time. For example, writing a paper and posting it on LinkedIn or interning with a company like Cyber Island or BulletProof will take you to the forefront of the job market.”
Salaries for Cyber Security experts
Joe says the average salary in the IT field on PEI is about $60,000 per year, and that the average for Cyber Island employees on PEI is $80,000 per year. In bigger cities in Atlantic Canada, such as Halifax, Moncton or Fredericton, salaries can be higher. “Salaries on PEI are beginning to go up as well.”
Training available on PEI
Kelly Stander, Director of Talent Development at Cyber Island, is currently registering the East Coast Cyber Academy in Charlottetown to upskill individuals and offer cyber security training to students, graduates, and people who want to reskill and move into a different area of the cyber security industry.
“East Coast Cyber Academy will provide practical opportunities and training,” says Kelly. “You will work on select vendor platforms, get practical training, build connectors, run demos, and answer difficult questions from clients.
“Our clients look for people with certain certifications, project experience, or experience working on a platform. Cyber Academy will help to build these skills.”
Advice for those wanting to get into the cyber security field
Joe talked about opportunities in consulting for recent Computer Science graduates. “If you start with a Computer Science degree, there are different ways to get into cyber security.
“Cyber security marketing and sales is a huge industry that has come to the forefront in the last year or two.”
Joe advises Computer Science students and graduates to expand their knowledge and earn certain certifications.
“Earning some certifications can be quite expensive, such as COMPT TIA Security+. Focus on the free stuff first. There are so many free learning opportunities such as videos that can give you a baseline foothold.”
IAM – Cyber Ark Trustee is a free certification which takes about two hours. Just spending an hour a week on the LinkedIn Learning platform provides a good base of understanding of the cyber security industry. A company called Cybrary offers a lot of learning pathways.
“Focus on all the free learning opportunities you can find. Then get a foothold into an organization by applying to any junior position.”
For more about Cyber Island Global, visit www.cyberislandglobal.com