From education to employment

How to hack into the world of ethical hacking​

How to hack into the world of ethical hacking​

My career in cyber security and ethical hacking came down to chance and opportunity.

Whilst it’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication to get to where I am now, I started out with practically no experience.

After studying business at university, I tried my luck on a job posting I found online. The hiring manager took a chance on me. I took a chance on the cyber security industry. And I haven’t looked back since. Thankfully, these same opportunities still exist.

October is Cyber Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “See Yourself in Cyber,” is a good reminder that despite a lack of expertise, cybersecurity is an industry to consider while on the job hunt, whether you’re leaving college or university. Salaries are high, and jobs are there for the taking: the number of unfilled cyber roles worldwide grew 350% between 2013 and 2021. So, no matter your cyber and computing experience level, you may be a desirable candidate.

As an ‘ethical hacker’, I specialise in physical intrusion or “red teaming” as it’s called in the industry.

I disguise myself as a postman or electrician to gain access to a building and once inside break into a company’s computer network.

I started out by shadowing senior staff, getting a sense of what red teaming was and how it could help companies by highlighting their weaknesses. The first time I discovered a kink in a company’s defence, successfully detecting and rectifying it was thrilling and I knew in that moment that this was a career I could see myself in long-term. I ended up spending 10 years with my first company and rose through the ranks quickly.

15 years into my career, I’m now the Head of Cyber Innovation at Falanx Cyber.

We are a leading cyber security services company providing offensive and defensive solutions to UK businesses. At Falanx Cyber, we work to put enterprise-class cyber security services within reach of every organisation.

In my current role, I lead the identification of cyber risk threatening the integrity of UK and European businesses, and work with our team to provide complete end-to-end managed cyber security services to alleviate those risks. We operate from our Reading, UK based headquarters and Security Operations Centre (SOC).  

If you want to have a real, tangible impact every day this is a career for you. As over half of businesses suffered from a cyberattack last year, there is still much to do – and achieve – in this industry. I’m also proud to work for Falanx Cyber, where we make this critical support accessible. An advanced digital workforce means we’re all becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks and there aren’t enough people to plug the skills gap. Meaning starting salaries are above average too, which always helps.

Impact is important. But a job should be something you enjoy.

Something your kid-self would find interesting. And I find ethical hacking fascinating to this day.

Ultimately, cybersecurity is about people and passion – these are the personality traits I look for when hiring the next generation of cyber experts. Technical expertise is an added bonus, but absolutely not necessary – they can be learned.

I encourage you to consider a career in cybersecurity. I promise you will not regret it.

Rob Shapland, Head of Cyber Innovation, Falanx Cyber

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