Cyber Security

Why should ex-military get into Cyber Security?

These industries are growing and evolving fast with huge potential. No two days are the same, and it pays extremely well. 

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Why should organisations hire ex-mil for cyber roles?

  • Security Mindset. Years of experience within security - they live and breathe it. Recce skills, physical security awareness & experience, intelligence gathering, etc. They offer a different view to someone who has spent years working in the technical side of Cyber.
  • Communication & Leadership Skills. Both are severely lacking in the IT & Cyber industry. Often great technical Cyber security guys are promoted into leadership roles, but fall flat because they can't lead or communicate.
  • Trusted. SC or DV cleared as standard.

What skills do you require?

  • Technical. Need a good technical understanding, otherwise you may find yourself out your depth.
  • CompTIA A+, Network+, and Security+ are good courses to give technical skills.
  • Compliance. Need to understand the compliance & governance side of things. CISMP will give you the skills to become a leader in cyber.
  • Project Management. Always good to have PRINCE2 or Agile.

Technical Courses

  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Security+

All three courses can be done through resettlement at places like Aldershot. I think each one is 1-2 weeks long and is followed with an exam. Resettlement grant of £540 and ELC of £1000 will cover the courses.

The technical courses are the foundation and will give you credibility and understanding of IT that you need. They will allow you to become a network engineer/IT support or cyber security analyst.

Advanced Technical Courses

  • CompTIA CySA+

You can't do this through the MoD. It follows on from the above three and focuses specifically on cyber.

A "nice to have".

Management Courses

  • Agile PM Practitioner
  • PRINCE2  Practitioner
  • ITIL

Firstly, its a bit "wild west" out there at the moment. Cyber doesn't have the maturity of something like Project Management, so there are lots of companies/authorities competing to have the best qualification and to become the "PRINCE2 of the Cyber world"

CISMP is the basic management qualification. Its issued by the BCS (British Computer Society). I paid £20 for a book from Amazon and then £160 for the exam at Pearson. Companies are charging £2000-3000 for this 5 day course ... its outrageous.

CISSP is the industry "chartered" qualification. It requires 5 years of security experience, an ethical review, and quite a difficult exam. Ex-Mil can easily find the leeway to get 5 years experience in the area.

I got another qualification called CISM, but its quite American (hence my comment about wild west) and wouldn't have gone for it in retrospect.

Agile PM and PRINCE2 are "nice to haves" as there are a lot of Cyber Project Management roles out there. ITIL is IT project management and is another "nice to have".

Junior Route

  • 3x Technical CompTIA courses
  • ITIL Foundation

This will get them a good role as a cyber analyst in FS. Once they get the foot in the door (with some ex-mil networking) they will skyrocket - employers will love their Army skills and ability to actually speak to people and get stuff done. The foot in the door is just the crucial part.

Seniors/Officer Route

  • CompTIA A+
  • AgilePM and/or PRINCE2
  • ITIL Practitioner

This will get them a good role in cyber project management or similar. Cyber project management is a good way to break into Cyber as Officers/Seniors have been doing project management for years. Once in, there will be scope to move to 100% cyber. E.g. 1st job = Cyber PM (giving you the experience & opportunity), 2nd job = Full Cyber.

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This content has been written by Jake Barker (Security Consultant at AWS)

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Jake Barker (Military officer - now head of information security and major pension administrator)