Top 10 in-demand cybersecurity skills for 2021

May 24, 2021
a woman working on a desktop in a cybersecurity lab symbolizes the top 10 cybersecurity skills

There will always be a need for cybersecurity experts, but as threats and technologies change and evolve, the most important skills those experts need will also change. CSO Online contributing writer, Mary Pratt, pulled together a list of the most in-demand cybersecurity skills for 2021.

“Security leaders say there’s not only a shortage in the number of qualified people working in the field, but it's also challenging to find the needed skills among the existing pool of security professionals,” says Pratt.

She shares that technological skills aren’t the only ones that matter. Among the skills Pratt lists are interpersonal skills, business acumen, and agility, items that might not initially come to mind when considering the field.

“The most in-demand security skills for 2021 reflect this trend,” says Pratt, “with security chiefs saying they need people who can pull together expertise in various spheres to meet the emerging security and threat environments as well as overall business requirements.”

Industry Experts Most Desired Skills for Cybersecurity Professionals

To create her list, Pratt reached out to several industry experts to get their opinions on what they see as the most desirable skills to support day-to-day cybersecurity operations.

Jimmy Sanders, head of security for Netflix DVD and president of the San Francisco chapter of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), shared that being comfortable with change, internal drive, and the ability to work autonomously topped his list.

Regarding interpersonal skills and business acumen, Pratt mentions that this aligns with the rising prominence of those in the field. Cybersecurity staff are no longer stuck behind computers – they often have to present to executives and board members.

Gary Todd, associate director of cybersecurity for the energy firm PNM Resources, agrees, saying, “It’s almost a sales function, to be able to present to all different levels of the organization to impress upon them what they need to do to protect the organization.”

Understanding the business goes beyond presenting to high-level staff at an organization, says Pratt. It plays into meeting budgets and other business requirements.

“I talk about it as ‘polarities to manage’ versus trade-offs,” says HP CISO Joanna McDaniel Burkey. “We need to see both sides of issues, we need to put ourselves in their shoes, so we can co-create well with stakeholders.”

On the more technical side of the spectrum, the following items made the list:

  • Risk identification and management, at both the company- and industry-level
  • Technical fundamentals, including understanding of the architecture and IT components that make up security infrastructure
  • Data management and analysis, such as using information to improve efficiency and effectiveness
  • Changing technologies, such as cloud platforms and automation

Threat Hunting & App Security Skills

One newer item to make the list is threat hunting, which is proactively searching networks to identify threats that have not been resolved through current security solutions.

“According to a 2020 survey from security solutions maker DomainTools, 93% of organizations said threat hunting should be a top security initiative to provide early detection and reduce risk,” shares Pratt.

Additionally, integrating security into app development (DevSecOpps as opposed to DevOpps) is a priority skill.

“Burning Glass lists application development security as the No. 1 fastest-growing skill, with expected demand to increase 164% over the next five years,” says Pratt.

Want to learn about cybersecurity? View the full list of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in cyber and information security. Many courses are available both on campus and online. To learn more about Capitol Tech’s degree programs, contact


Categories: Cybersecurity