What You Need to Know About Remote Work in Cybersecurity
Plus, the Best Remote Cybersecurity Job
I get asked the same question a lot: “Nato, how do I get a job in cybersecurity?” Whether your office is located across town or across the street, the idea of working remotely has a wide appeal these days.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to remote work.
- What are your social needs?
- What are your skill-sets?
- What type of work do you want to do?
- Are there many remote jobs available in your field?
- Will you be able to keep up with tasks with all the distractions that come from being outside the office?
- What company (or companies) do you want to work for?
In essence, working remotely in cybersecurity is both simple and complicated. Let’s delve into it.
Cybersecurity is an industry borne of the internet. As such, it’s a mobile industry. That’s why the stereotypical image of a hacker is a guy wearing a hoodie in a dark room – all they need to breach your company or steal your credit card information from that purchase you made over an open WiFi connection in a coffee shop is an internet connection.
Likewise, if you’re one of the good guys helping companies stay safe from hackers, the majority of the work you do will be web-based, meaning all you’ll need is reliable internet. Cybersecurity is a great industry for those who want the flexibility that comes with a remote career.
Whether or not you can work remotely will depend almost entirely on the culture of the company for which you work.
Some companies pay good money to have a bank of offices on the top floors and their name on the side of a skyscraper and expect their employees to be at the office for 40 hours every week. Others are doing away with offices altogether and have found great remote teams made up of workers all over the world.
Some employers prefer to have all team members physically present as often as possible while others value responsiveness more than in-person interactions. Still other companies care very little where you are or when you check in as long as you’re reaching milestones and completing projects on deadline.
A truly remote job will allow you to work anywhere in the world with no restrictions as long as you have the internet, complete your tasks, and call into meetings as required. It’s important to remain available during normal business hours – even if you’re sitting on a beach with your laptop on your lap 1,000 miles from the office.
This could be your office... if the waves don't distract you!
This may seem like a dream come true, but it’s important to have the self-awareness to understand how you operate with that sort of freedom – and subsequent lack of accountability. Most people lack this level of refined skill.
Curious if You Can Work Remotely? Just Ask
If you’re curious if a particular company has a culture friendly to remote workers, find a few current employees on LinkedIn or Facebook and ask them directly. Here’s a couple questions to help you get a handle on a company’s remote work culture.
- Does your company let you come and go as you please?
- When you work from home, do you still find yourself rushing into the office to put out fires?
- How often do you work remotely?
- Are there any particular meetings or company activities that require you to be physically present in the office? How often do these events occur?
Remote Work for Freelancers
A good way to get started with remote work is by seeking out freelance contracts. You can even find community forum boards – such as HackerOne – that offer bug bounties for penetration testers (note: this is very challenging work and not for everyone).
The only downside of freelance work is its potential lack of consistency. That’s why it’s important to diversify your clients. If you’re working for multiple clients at once, you’ll have work to fall back on if you abruptly lose a contract.
If you haven’t been in cybersecurity for long or lack an advanced skill set, working remotely isn’t recommended. But for everyone else out there, those of you with years of advanced training and skills, it will probably be easier to find remote work than you might realize.
I don’t recommend taking on side jobs as a freelancer while working full time in an office. This is a recipe for burnout. However, once you become savvy, you can easily fill your schedule with freelance contracts.
The Best Remote Cybersecurity Job
Arguably one of the best remote jobs in cybersecurity is consultant work. If you want a high-income job that pays you to travel and often offers fat bonuses, consider becoming a cybersecurity consultant.
Most consultants bill by the hour. Depending on the contract, you can potentially work (and therefore bill for) a lot of hours in a short period of time. These jobs also typically come with travel opportunities, since you’ll likely end up travelling to the location of the company that hired you for consultancy services.