According to a salary and hiring report by the professional recruitment group, Michael Page, cybersecurity is one of the top in-demand technology jobs in South Africa.
Cybersecurity is an issue of critical importance and companies are prioritising hiring talent with the expertise of putting safeguarding measures in place. In response to this, the Banking Sector Education and Training Authority has developed new occupational qualifications to address the growing need for formal qualifications related to cybersecurity in South Africa.
Interest in cybersecurity understandably follows increased demand for advanced technology by customers, especially within the fintech sector. With more customers conducting online transactions, the risk for potential cyber-attacks has rapidly increased.
Nash Lewis, 28 years old, is a young cybersecurity analyst who grew up in the Cape Flats in Cape Town. One of his greatest achievements is being the first of his family to obtain a tertiary qualification.
“From a young age, I enjoyed learning new skills on my computer and spending my free time in nature,” says Nash.
“I worked hard at school, with Information Technology and Mathematics being my favourite subjects. I then went on to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Cape Town.”
“After graduating, I pursued a career in cybersecurity because I figured it would be a great way of merging my qualification and personal interests,” he says. “I can confidently say that my passion for nature and securing our natural environment, as well as my keen interest in technology led me to taking up the challenge of finding viable solutions for cybercrime risk.”
Nash found himself working as a cyber security analyst in the Fintech sector for short term lender, Wonga, which he experiences as being fast-paced but very exciting. It has also improved his financial literacy skills so he can manage his money better.
“My primary responsibility is protecting the organisation against cyberattacks, which encompasses the fulfilment of a number of responsibilities,” explains Nash.
“These include updating or patching vulnerable systems, investigating potential security incidents and coordinating an incident response, security infrastructure and configuration management, and most importantly, maintaining relevance as the cyber threat landscape is constantly evolving.”
The global security industry acknowledged before the Covid-19 pandemic that there were more than 2 million cybersecurity jobs vacant – including those in South Africa. With as many as 5 634 cyber threat detections each day, predictions are that global businesses will need 4 million cybersecurity professionals over the next few years.
“I encourage young people in South Africa, particularly women, to consider a career in cybersecurity, as it is clear that the sector has a huge demand for this type of skill, despite advancements in artificial and machine learning,” he continues.
“While the specifics of the trade will surely adapt over time, cyber security professionals are very likely to always be in demand.”
“Unfortunately careers in cyber security seem to be a rather well-kept secret as far as young people and their parents are concerned,” says Nash.
“It is a lively industry with a fantastic range of opportunities, which can be extremely well paid or offer unique challenges on the front line against criminal or other harmful entities.”