Top Cyber Security Domains to Build a Successful Career

Top Cyber Security Domains to Map Out a Successful Career

You might wonder, what exactly are cyber security domains, and why should you care?

Figuring out where to start your cyber security career or how to advance it can be challenging and overwhelming. You might struggle to identify where your interests or skills fit into cyber security. 

These domains can serve as a roadmap for career progression. They help you identify specific areas of interest, such as Application Security or Risk Assessment. By tailoring your learning to one or more of these domains, you have set yourself up for success. 

Let’s explore these domains, unravel their key elements, look at which careers might fit into them, and identify any certifications that align with these careers.

What Do We Mean by Cyber Security Domains?

Cyber security domains are simply different areas of cyber security that represent how we can categorize many topics based on their connections and relationships. 

We divide these into 11 different categories. Within each category, we branch off into subdomains, which can include even more specific topics or areas of focus.

These domains can be a great way for a company to design its policies by providing a clear and organized framework to provide an in-depth approach to security. It can also benefit someone looking for a career in cyber security as it provides a good understanding of the field, which can be important for providing a roadmap for learning, career planning, and specialization.

What Do We Mean by Cyber Security Domains

Security Architecture

The security architecture domain explores plans to keep a company's digital information safe. It considers the security needs and where to put any protective measures in place, including what type of security is needed, like firewalls or encryption, and finding the best places in the network and systems to install them to keep the company's information safe from threats.

Key Elements

Network Security

This involves implementing a security plan to secure a company’s network. It aims to protect the network itself and any data being sent across it. It must protect this data from unauthorized access or modifications by maintaining confidentiality, integrity, and availability (CIA triad). This may include securing hardware and or software like routers, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems. 

Cloud Security

As more and more companies move to cloud-based resources, ensuring these environments stay secure has become critical. Cloud security entails a mix of policies, technologies, and controls to protect data, applications, and any associated infrastructure.

Identity Management

This area focuses on managing users' identification, authentication, and authorization to access resources such as networks, systems, and applications. It helps ensure only the right user has access to the right resource.


Security Architect: A security architect designs and implements security measures to ensure an organization's information is safe from cyber threats. They decide which technology is used and how.

Security Consultant: A security consultant is an advisor who evaluates an organization's security measures. They look at the strategies in place and measure how effective they are. They recommend any improvements needed and must always be updated with the latest threats and technologies. 


Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)CISSP is as relevant for architects as it is for consultants, especially for understanding the broad aspects of information security.

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): Provided by the EC-Council, the CEH certification teaches how to think and act like a hacker, which is a valuable perspective for a security architect or consultant.

If you are preparing for your CISSP or CEH, Check out our cheat sheets:

CISSP Cheat Sheet (Updated for Latest Exam)

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) Exam Cheat Sheet

Frameworks and Standards

This domain refers to the guidelines, best practices, and compliance benchmarks organizations must achieve to control their environments effectively. These are critical for managing risk and ensuring regulatory compliance. 

Key Elements

OWASP Top 10

The OWASP Top 10, updated every few years by the Open Web Application Security Project, lists the most critical risks to web applications, including broken access control and injection. 

ISO 27001

This international standard provides information and security management system (ISMS) specifications. It helps organizations manage and protect their assets to remain safe and secure. 

NIST CyberSecurity Framework

Developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the framework consists of standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cyber security related risks.


Compliance Analyst: A compliance analyst ensures an organization follows the laws, regulations, and standards. They conduct risk assessments to help identify any compliance issues.  

Security Auditor: A security auditor conducts audits and assessments to identify and resolve security issues. They determine the root cause of any issues and the associated impact and document these findings. 


Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): Offered by ISACA, CISA is one of the most recognized certifications for professionals who audit, control, monitor, and assess an organization's information technology and systems.

Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional (CCEP): Offered by the Compliance Certification Board (CCB), the CCEP certification is aimed at compliance professionals dealing with various compliance and ethics issues within organizations.

Application Security

This domain focuses on the techniques used to protect applications from threats and vulnerabilities from design to development and into the deployment and maintenance stages. It’s an important part of cyber security as applications are often a target for attacks, which can lead to data loss.

Key Elements

API Security

As APIs increasingly enable software systems to communicate with each other and transfer data, they have become an attractive target for attacks. Ensuring the security of APIs involves implementing measures such as encryption and access management to protect against these threats. 

Security QA

Security QA is a set of processes that help ensure applications are developed with best practices. This can include code reviews, vulnerability assessments, and security integration during the application development life cycle. 

Source Code Scans

Source code scans can include automated tools or manual source code reviews that look for vulnerabilities in the code, such as SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS). These scans can also help meet compliance requirements.


Application Security Engineer: An application security engineer identifies and addresses application security weaknesses. They also work closely with developers to implement security solutions into these applications. 

DevSecOps Engineer: DevSecOps engineers incorporate security practices into the DevOps process. They are responsible for implementing infrastructure security, application security, and compliance monitoring controls. 


Certified Application Security Engineer (C|ASE): The C|ASE certification focuses on the various security controls and practices specific to application security, making it highly relevant for application security engineers.

Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP): CSSLP validates your expertise in incorporating security into each phase of the software development lifecycle.

Risk Assessment

The risk assessment domain involves the processes for identifying, analyzing, and evaluating risks in a given network or system that will impact an organization, including determining any threats, vulnerabilities, and potential impacts. This assessment allows organizations to focus resources on the most important threats. 

Key Elements

Penetration Test

A penetration test is a simulated attack on a system to identify and exploit any vulnerabilities found. A detailed report is delivered to the company and is considered a proactive approach to finding these vulnerabilities before the bad guys do. It allows an organization to improve its security measures.

3rd Party Risk

3rd party risk is any potential risk associated with partners, external vendors, etc., who have access to data or any other privileged company information. Managing this risk is about ensuring these vendors adhere to the same security standards as the organization.

Assets Inventory

Assets inventory includes cataloging any company hardware, software, or other resource needing protection. Understanding the asset and its related costs allows the proper allocation of resources. 


Risk Analyst: A risk analyst is responsible for identifying and analyzing potential business operations risks. They use various methods to assess and prioritize risks.

Vulnerability Assessor: This role focuses on identifying and prioritizing vulnerabilities in systems. Unlike penetration testers, who actively exploit vulnerabilities, vulnerability assessors typically scan for known vulnerabilities using automated tools.


CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+): CASP+ equips you with advanced skills in enterprise security, risk analysis, and cyber security solutions.

GIAC Enterprise Vulnerability Assessor (GEVA): The GEVA certification prepares you to identify and evaluate system weaknesses in large organizations effectively.

CISSP and CASP are often compared. See how they differentiate in this article, CISSP vs CASP+: Which Is Better?

Enterprise Risk Management

The enterprise risk management domain includes steps to help an organization identify, assess, and prepare for any risks that may impact business operations, including risks to finances and reputation.

Key Elements

Lines of Defense

This refers to a model that outlines how an organization should structure itself to manage risks. Typically, the model has three lines of defense:

1. Operational management: The first line involves those who own and manage risks.

2. Risk management and compliance: The second line oversees risk management and is often where you find the risk manager and compliance officer.

3. Internal audit: The third line of defense is internal audit, which provides independent assurance that risks are managed effectively.

Cyber Insurance

This is a risk transfer option for organizations to mitigate the financial impact of cyber attacks such as data breaches, business operations interruption, and network damage. Cyber insurance is becoming increasingly important as the frequency and severity of cyber attacks grow.

Risk Treatment Actions

These are the specific strategies employed to manage risks. They typically include

  • Risk Acceptance: Acknowledging the risk and deciding to take no action against it.
  • Risk Avoidance: Taking action to remove the risk entirely.
  • Risk Mitigation: Implementing controls to reduce the impact or likelihood of the risk.
  • Risk Transfer: Shifting the risk to a third party, which often involves insurance or outsourcing.


Enterprise Risk Manager: Professionals in this role are responsible for identifying and assessing threats, safeguarding assets, and determining how to avoid potential losses or reduce the impact of risks.

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO): A senior-level executive responsible for overseeing and implementing an organization’s cyber security strategy and policies. 


Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): Offered by ISC2, CISSP is one of the most prestigious cyber security certifications, and it is often a requirement for the role of CISO.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC): Offered by ISACA, CRISC is specifically designed for IT professionals who want to become a risk management expert.


The governance domain includes the responsibilities and practices an organization must adhere to to ensure data is used correctly. It ensures that there is confidentiality, integrity, and availability in maintaining the data. 

Key Elements

Laws and Regulations

Organizations must comply with laws and regulations that inform them of how information is protected. This can include the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and HIPPA (Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act), among others.

Company’s Written Policies

These policies provide employees with guidance in handling and securing information. They usually address areas such as acceptable use of technology, classification of data, and incident response.

Executive Management Involvement

This ensures that management is involved in governance and is responsible for setting a company's culture when dealing with cyber security.


Security Governance Officer: The security governance office is mainly responsible for overseeing and implementing the organization's cyber security strategy set by the executive management and the board of directors. 

Policy Analyst: A policy analyst develops and maintains policies and strategies. They ensure these are comprehensive, practical, and effective in supporting the organization's security objectives.


Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): Offered by ISACA, the CISM certification focuses on management and governance aspects of information security.

Certified in Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT): Also offered by ISACA, CGEIT is designed for professionals who ensure that governance frameworks are aligned with business goals.

Threat Intelligence

The threat intelligence domain involves data collection, processing, and analysis. It helps an organization understand the risks involved with cyber attacks, zero-day threats, and exploits. It identifies who the threat actors are, as well as what their capabilities and motivations might be.

Key Elements


This threat intelligence comes from outside the organization and can include sources such as OSINT, social media monitoring, and threat feeds. It helps anticipate and prepare for any emerging threats. 


This intelligence comes from within the company itself. Internal intelligence can include logs, events, and even network traffic patterns. It may include the analysis of incidents to identify attackers' TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures). 


Threat Intelligence Analyst: A threat intelligence analyst analyzes data from both external and internal sources. They produce actionable intelligence, which can be helpful in responding effectively to cyber attacks. 

Threat Researcher: A threat researcher investigates malware, breaches, and other threats to determine how they work and how they might be defended. They are usually involved in reverse engineering of malware.


Certified Threat Intelligence Analyst (C|TIA): C|TIA is offered by the EC-Council and is designed to develop your skills in the science of threat intelligence analysis.

GIAC Cyber Threat Intelligence (GCTI): Provided by the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), the GCTI certification validates your ability to analyze and apply threat intelligence effectively.

User Education

The user education domain is very important in the realm of cyber security because it involves the most important aspect of security, the “human factor.” Technology alone cannot protect an organization; the people who use it must be aware of the risks involved and how to mitigate them.

Key Elements


The main goal of cyber security awareness is to inform users about the cyber threats that exist and what impact they may have. Awareness programs are usually designed to be ongoing so that information about the latest phishing attempts or social engineering tactics stays in everyone’s mind. 


While awareness is more about communication and information, training teaches users the skills to recognize and avoid threats. Training may be specific to a certain role within the company and usually involves best practices for using passwords, handling sensitive data, and even recognizing suspicious activity


Cyber Security Trainer: A cyber security trainer is responsible for developing and delivering training programs for the company. They usually create materials that will be engaging and might include online modules or in-person workshops. 

Awareness Program Manager: An awareness program manager will oversee the design and implementation of the company's awareness program. They ensure that employees have the resources they need to follow best practices. 


CompTIA Security+: The CompTIA Security+ certification covers a wide range of introductory topics in cyber security, including the importance of education and training.

Certified Security Awareness Practitioner (CSAP): CSAP, by the Information Security company Infosec (formerly InfoSec Institute), is specifically designed for professionals who are looking to acquire the expertise needed to establish and manage a comprehensive security awareness program.

Security Operations

The security operations domain is of vital importance to the overall strategy in cyber security. It focuses on the day-to-day operations needed to protect networks, systems, and data from malicious attacks. The domain includes the tools and processes that are needed to perform monitoring, analysis, and mitigation.

Key Elements

Incident Response

Incident response is how an organization responds to an attack or compromise that limits the damage and reduces recovery time and costs. An incident response plan will include preparation, detection, analysis, containment, and eradication. 

Security Operation Centers (SOCs)

A SOC is a team of experts that can be onsite or offsite. This team is responsible for ensuring that an organization operates securely at all times. 

Active Defense

An active defense strategy is one of the proactive measures taken to detect, track, and even counterattack threats in real-time. It can include measures like setting up a honeypot or honeynet to gather intelligence and divert threats.


SOC Analyst: SOC Analysts play a crucial role in an organization's security operations, acting as the eyes and ears of the security team. They are considered the first line of defense and work as part of a larger team. They investigate, document, report, monitor threats, assess systems for weaknesses, and suggest improvements.

Incident Responder: Incident responders are the ones who are called in after a security incident, including a breach or ransomware attack. They attempt to minimize the impact on the organization and work to recover from the attack. 


Certified SOC Analyst (CSA): Offered by EC-Council, the CSA certification is tailored for current and aspiring Tier I and Tier II SOC analysts to validate their knowledge in working in Security Operation Centers.

GIAC Certified Incident Handler Certification (GCIH): GCIH validates the skills in managing security incidents by understanding common attack techniques, tools, and methods to defend against and respond to such attacks.

Physical Security

The physical security domain involves protecting an organization's physical assets, such as buildings, hardware, servers, networks, data centers, and facilities, from physical threats like unauthorized access, theft, and vandalism, as well as physical events that could cause loss or damage, such as fires, floods, and natural disasters. 

Key Elements

IoT Security

With the rise in the Internet of Things (IoT), securing these devices is critical, as they provide entry points for cyber-attacks and data breaches. These devices have become an important part of an organization’s landscape, including climate control, sensors, smart boards, medical devices, security cameras, smart speakers, etc. Most IoT devices lack built-in security controls, have insecure network connections, lack regular updates/patches, and use default passwords.


SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and ICS (Industrial Control Systems) are used in industrial sectors and critical infrastructures like electrical, water, oil, and gas distribution networks. The security concerns with these systems involve their reliance on legacy protocols, lack of authentication, and unpatched vulnerabilities. They have become a target for attackers, especially nation-state actors, as they can disrupt large critical systems and lead to loss of service or accidents.


Physical Security Specialist: Physical security specialists are responsible for physically protecting an organization's assets, including personnel, hardware, and the facility. This may involve security planning, site surveys, risk analysis, and the integration of security systems.

Data Center Manager: Data Center Managers oversee operations in data centers, ensuring the integrity of the physical infrastructure that supports operations, including server security, environmental controls, and physical access controls.


Physical Security Professional (PSP): Offered by ASIS International, the PSP credential demonstrates your knowledge of threat assessment, risk analysis, integrated physical security systems, and the appropriate identification, implementation, and ongoing evaluation of security measures.

Certified Data Centre Professional (CDCP): The CDCP is tailored for those working in and around data center infrastructure. It focuses on key components such as a data center's design, maintenance, and operations, including physical security aspects.

Career Development

The Career Development domain focuses on advancing and growing in your career through obtaining certifications, finding mentors, building your brand, attending conferences, and pursuing training.

Key Elements


Certifications play a big role in cyber security. It helps demonstrate up-to-date skills and knowledge in specific areas, which can validate to employers that you have the right skills for the job. It can also show dedication, competencies, and problem-solving abilities. 


Ongoing training helps you develop new and in-demand skills and helps keep you current. Virtual labs and hands-on training will provide the practical experience needed for some careers. It can also show employers you show initiative and dedication to continuous learning. 


Mentors who advance in their careers can offer great guidance and perspective. You can gain insider advice on setting goals, which skills to develop, and how to get to the next level. They can offer contacts and recommendations, and a good mentor challenges you.


Cyber Security Course Instructor: A cyber security course instructor teaches courses in various areas. They may teach penetration testing, material related to a specific certification, a programming language like Python, or even how to use a specific tool such as Nmap

Mentor: A mentor in cyber security provides guidance and shares insights with others. Their job could include advising, offering tips, providing contacts, reviewing goals, and giving feedback. 


Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): Offered by ISC2, CISSP is a globally recognized certification in cyber security. CISSP is valuable for aspiring cyber security course Instructors as it demonstrates a well-rounded knowledge of the field.

CompTIA Security+: The CompTIA Security+ certification covers a broad range of introductory topics. It's often one of the first certifications recommended for new professionals and, therefore, is a subject area that instructors and mentors should be well-versed in.

See How CISSP and Security+ Compare To Each Other In This Article:

CompTIA Security+ vs CISSP: Which Is Best for You?

Do All Careers Fit in a Single Domain?

The quick answer is no, all careers do not fit into a single domain. In cyber security, these domains are very interconnected. Many careers do not fit nicely under one domain, and instead, they often span multiple domains, pulling from a unique set of skills from each. Here are two career examples.

Security Architect

Security architects design secure networks and systems, which requires knowledge that spans across Security Operations (for understanding the current operational environment), Application Security (to secure software applications), and often Physical Security (to ensure the security of physical devices connected to the network).

Penetration Tester

Penetration testers, or ethical hackers, simulate attacks to find vulnerabilities. Their work requires them to be knowledgeable in Application Security (to test applications), Security Operations (understanding detection and response mechanisms), and sometimes even Physical Security (if they perform physical pentests).

How Can I Use This Information?

So now you have all this information, but what can you do with it all? What does it all mean for you?

These domains can help guide your cyber security journey. The skills within each domain can help you identify which areas to focus on.

Here are three ways they can help you.

  1. Identify Potential Career Paths:

The map outlines domains such as Application Security, Incident Response, and Governance, each corresponding to distinct career paths within the field. You can examine each domain and consider which areas align with your interests and career goals.

  1. Recognize Required Skills and Knowledge:

Each domain includes a set of skills and knowledge. For example, if you are interested in the Governance domain, you will need to understand compliance, policy development, and regulatory frameworks.

  1. Personal Development:

You can use the map to identify gaps in your current knowledge and plan for personal development. If you aspire to work in Incident Response, you might focus on developing forensics and eradication skills.


Navigating these domains doesn’t have to be difficult or frustrating. Learning about the different cyber security domains allows you to focus your learning and carve out clearer career paths.

We have presented you with a detailed map of these domains, examined some key elements within them, and provided suggestions for careers and certifications.

You should now be armed with valuable information to help you on your journey.

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  • Richard Dezso

    Richard is a cyber security enthusiast, eJPT, and ICCA who loves discovering new topics and never stops learning. In his home lab, he's always working on sharpening his offensive cyber security skills. He shares helpful advice through easy-to-understand blog posts that offer practical support for everyone. Additionally, Richard is dedicated to raising awareness for mental health. You can find Richard on LinkedIn, or to see his other projects, visit his Linktree.