A Step-by-Step Guide To Become A Cyber Security Architect

No matter where you turn, you’re constantly bombarded by stories of corporate cybersecurity breaches, phishing scams, internet fraud, and other nightmarish incidents. Cybercrime is a big problem these days, giving rise to the importance of sound cybersecurity practices.

Whether it’s a business, government agency, organization, or private citizen, everyone wants their information secure. Such a significant part of our lives—including personal information, financial transactions, and our day-to-day work—is done online.

Cybersecurity architects are an essential piece of the cybersecurity puzzle. This article will help you understand what cybersecurity architecture is all about, why you should consider becoming one, and how to go about it. Read on and see why this is a great, in-demand career choice.

Let us now begin by understanding cybersecurity architecture.

Who is a Cyber Security Architect?

A cybersecurity architect (sometimes just called a “security architect”) is responsible for designing, creating, and maintaining the security systems within an organization’s IT network, including the computer systems and data.

In other words, they are the go-to person, the one in charge, in the area of cybersecurity.

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What Does a Cyber Security Architect Do?

The above definition takes away some of the mystery, sure, but what does it mean in real-world terms? How does that definition translate into job responsibilities? Cybersecurity architect roles and responsibilities include:

  • Gaining a total understanding of the organization’s technology and information systems
  • Planning, researching, and designing reliable, powerful, and flexible security architectures for all IT projects
  • Performing vulnerability testing on the completed infrastructure, including risk analyses and security assessments
  • Researching the latest security standards, new security systems, and updated authentication protocols
  • Defining, creating, implementing, and maintaining all needed corporate security policies and procedures, making sure that all employees abide by them
  • Developing requirements for all IT assets including routers, firewalls, local area networks (LANs), wide-area networks (WANs), virtual private networks (VPNs), and any other related network devices
  • Reviewing and approving the installation of all firewalls, VPN, routers, servers, and IDS scanning technologies
  • Preparing cost estimates for all cybersecurity measures and identifying any potential integration issues
  • Designing critical public infrastructures (PKIs), including digital signatures and certification authorities (CA)
  • Testing the organization’s final security structures to make sure they function as planned
  • Providing technical guidance and supervision for security teams
  • Taking charge of any security awareness programs and educational efforts to better prepare non-IT personnel
  • Responding immediately to any security-related incidents (e.g., data breaches, viruses, phishing scams) and providing a complete post-event analysis once there is a resolution
  • Updating and upgrading the organization’s security systems as needed

Bear in mind, not all organizations or businesses will want their cybersecurity architect to do every one of these tasks. Conversely, some companies may ask even more of their architects.

Cyber Security Architect Salary and Career Potential

By this time, you may be wondering about the viability of cybersecurity as a career. For instance, what does a cybersecurity architect's salary look like? Are there many cybersecurity architect jobs out there? What about the perks and benefits?

The average cybersecurity architect salary clocks in at USD 122,634, according to Payscale. Of course, this can fluctuate based on location, how many years of experience you have, and the nature of your relevant skillset. Payscale further points out that a cybersecurity architect pulls in generous health benefits and may even be eligible for bonuses and profit-sharing.

Indeed’s blog has encouraging news for anyone who’s wondering about demand. Considering that cybersecurity is the number one concern of CEOs in the United States, it’s hardly surprising that the need for cybersecurity architects is on the rise. Fears related to cybercrimes have risen thanks to several high-profile cybersecurity incidents over the last couple of years.

There is a projected 37 percent growth rate for cybersecurity jobs between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Also, there appears to be a growing skills gap in the field, as boomers retire and millennials haven’t been replacing them at a comparable rate.

All of this, coupled with the reality that we live in a society that increasingly conducts its business and leisure activities online, points toward a high demand for cybersecurity architects. This is a field that you can enter and write your ticket, provided you get the proper skills and training.

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How Do You Become a Cyber Security Architect?

We need to be up-front about this: it takes some work and dedication to become a cybersecurity architect. This is a prestigious, well-paying career with lots of potentials, but you need to put in the time and effort to get there. Fortunately, we’ll show you how to do this!

First of all, you need some academic acumen. Conventional wisdom says you need a degree (Bachelor’s or Masters) in cybersecurity, computer science, information technology, or some other related major. If you don’t have this kind of educational background, you may be able to squeak by taking some classes that focus on IT.

Moving away from academia to actual work experience, most businesses and organizations look for candidates with five to 10 years of IT experience in the workplace, including some work with systems analysis, application development, and business planning. Three to five of those years of IT experience should focus on security matters.

So, if you have your education and work experience squared away, you’re ready to go.

Not exactly.

It takes a particular set of skills to excel at cybersecurity architecture. In the realm of “soft” skills, the ideal candidate is an excellent communicator, a capable leader, and enjoys solving problems. A cybersecurity architect needs to be able to oversee projects, direct teams, and be able to talk with non-technical people in the organization, relaying concepts that may be difficult for them to grasp.

A good cybersecurity architect needs many of the following hard skills:

  • Knowledge of Windows, UNIX, and Linux
  • Understanding of ISO 27001/27002, ITIL, and COBIT frameworks
  • A grasp of perimeter security controls such as firewalls, IDS/IPS, network access controls, and network segmentation
  • Network security architecture development and definition
  • Experience with the various aspects of wireless security such as routers, switches, and VLAN security
  • Knowledge of security concepts related to DNS, including routing, authentication, VPN, proxy services, and DDOS mitigation technology
  • An understanding of third party auditing and cloud risk assessment methodology

Now, as if all of that isn’t enough, it’s also important to have certification in various subjects crucial to cybersecurity architecture. But with the right training, certification is within your reach.

Benefits of Cyber Security Architect Certification

You earn certification in a given subject by taking a course (or courses), completing all of the work, and passing a certification exam. Certification is crucial because it provides documented, quantifiable proof that you possess the appropriate knowledge in that subject.

Most businesses and organizations look for certification for this very reason. If they see that you’re certified, then they have an assurance that you’re capable of handling the position for which they’re hiring you. That’s why getting certification is such an essential part of your cybersecurity architect training.

Here’s a partial list of appropriate certifications:

  • CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker
  • CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional
  • CISSP-ISSAP: Information Systems Security Architecture Professional
  • CISM: Certified Information Security Manager
  • CSSA: Certified SCADA Security Architect
  • GSEC / GCIH / GCIA: GIAC Security Certifications

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Where Can You Get the Certification?

Simplilearn offers a wide range of cybersecurity architect courses that will round out your cybersecurity knowledge base. They’re also ideal for current cybersecurity professionals who want to upskill and add to their experience and marketability.

For example, you can get CISM Certification Training, a key certification for any professional cybersecurity architect. This CISM course, closely aligned with ISACA's best practices, enables you to define and design enterprise security architecture, achieve IT compliance and governance, deliver reliable service to customers, and understand how IT security systems can help you achieve broader business goals and objectives.

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is considered the gold standard in the field of information security. This training is aligned with (ISC)² CBK 2018 requirements and trains you to become information assurance professionals in many aspects of IT security, including architecture.

Finally, the Certified Ethical Hacker-Version 10 (earlier CEHv9) course helps you to think like the cybersecurity architect’s worst enemy, the hacker! The course trains you on the advanced step-by-step methodologies that hackers use, such as writing virus codes and reverse engineering, so you can better protect corporate infrastructure from data breaches. You’ll master advanced network packet analysis and advanced system penetration testing techniques, so that you can build your network security skillset and beat hackers at their own game.

Want to Become a Cyber Security Architect?

By this time, you have a good idea of what it takes to enter this challenging yet very gratifying field. Simplilearn can help get you across the finish line with its Cyber Security Expert Certification Training Course. This program equips you with the skills needed to become an expert in the field. You’ll learn comprehensive approaches to protecting your infrastructure, including securing data and information, running risk analysis and mitigation, architecting cloud-based security, achieving compliance, and much more with this best-in-class program.

You’ll get over 96 hours of live, online classes, filled with the latest valuable information on this rapidly-changing field. Once you take the exam and get your certification, you’ll be in the perfect position to get that much sought-after position in this fantastic field.

About the Author

John TerraJohn Terra

John Terra lives in Nashua, New Hampshire and has been writing freelance since 1986. Besides his volume of work in the gaming industry, he has written articles for Inc.Magazine and Computer Shopper, as well as software reviews for ZDNet. More recently, he has done extensive work as a professional blogger. His hobbies include running, gaming, and consuming craft beers. His refrigerator is Wi-Fi compliant.

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