If you have experience in the information technology field and a talent for finding vulnerabilities in software and systems, then security consulting could fit your skill set. You’d be providing a service that’s sorely needed, considering Canada has fallen behind in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is constantly changing, so if you want to be a security consultant, you need a strong knowledge base and a desire to continue learning throughout your career. If that sounds appealing to you, find out how you can get started.
Build Your Cybersecurity Knowledge
A bachelor’s degree with a concentration in cybersecurity or computer and information security prepares you to work as a security consultant and is a valuable addition to your resume. While earning your degree and building your knowledge are the primary benefits of going to school, you can also make connections during your time there. You can improve your qualifications further by obtaining a cybersecurity certification. Three of the largest organizations that offer these type of certifications are the Information Systems Audit and Controls Association, the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, and the Chartered Institute for IT. You don’t need degree and certifications to work as a security consultant. You may be fine without them if you already have experience and references, but they can help you build trust with potential clients.
Put Together a Business Plan
Any time you start a business, you need a business plan. Your business plan includes the service you’re going to offer, what makes your business unique from the competition, and your target market. It also includes an evaluation of the financial side of your business, including projections for startup costs and monthly revenue. The startup costs involved with becoming a security consultant aren’t very high, since you don’t need much equipment, besides a high-quality computer. Specializing in specific aspects of cybersecurity can help you stand out in a crowded marketplace full of security consultants. You could focus on web application security, exploit research and development, mobile device security, or network security assessments, to name a few options. When clients need a consultant for web application security, that’s what they’re going to search for, so specializing makes it easier for you to land jobs. As rewarding as it is to start your own security consulting business, you may want to also look into employment opportunities, especially if you don’t have much experience. If you get a job in a company’s IT department, you can work your way up and branch out to start your own business once you’ve learned more about the trade.
Stay Up to Date With the Latest Technology
You need to keep up with the latest technologies, including popular software, so you understand how they work and can find potential vulnerabilities. Every security consultant should have the Open Web Application Security Project bookmarked, for example. There are a near-endless amount of options on the internet that help you stay informed about cybersecurity. Try open-source security projects to keep your skills sharp. Check out cybersecurity lists on Twitter, the Information and Security News Reddit, and cybersecurity training websites such as Offensive Security and InfoSec Institute.
Marketing Your Business
One of the unique challenges you face when you have your own business as a security consultant is marketing. The skills involved in security consulting and selling yourself don’t exactly go hand in hand. While this doesn’t matter if you’re working as an employee, marketing is a necessity to gain clients when you have your own business. To improve your chances of landing jobs, you need to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with people. Conferences and meetups work well for meeting people in the industry, and you should also stay active on cybersecurity communities online. Market yourself on LinkedIn by messaging small business owners, and send out cold emails to businesses in your area to offer your services. If marketing isn’t your forte, think about hiring a marketing consultant to help you build your client base. It increases your startup costs, but it also saves you time and gets your business earning money faster. Part of being a successful business owner is learning to outsource the tasks you’re not good at so you can stick to what you know best. When you’re serious about going into business as a security consultant, the first step is making sure you have the right qualifications so businesses take you seriously and want to hire you. Those could be your educational background, a certification, work experience or, ideally, a combination of the three. After that, you need a business plan and the right marketing tactics. Given the evolving nature of the business, keeping yourself informed on the latest news and developments needs to become part of your everyday routine.