America has faced its share of threats. The domestic efforts that were once devoted to combating organized crime and drug trafficking were shifted to terrorism one September morning in 2001. Twelve years later FBI director James Comey predicts that cyberthreats will soon rival terrorism as “the primary danger facing the United States.”
Cybercrime poses a significant threat to our national security but it also has detrimental effects in your own backyard. Data breaches are among the most common and costly security failures for businesses of all sizes, with the average cost of a single cyberattack equaling $300,000.
Cybercrime is on the rise at a national and local level, which means organizations are desperate for qualified information security personnel to help protect their assets. The villains may not be masked or armed but they’re more dangerous than Darth Vader and The Joker combined.
So if the thought of being a “cyber superhero” excites you, there is no better time than now to act on it! We enlisted a few experts to share some insight on the future of the industry to help you determine if you’ve got the chops to combat cyber villains.
What is the outlook for information security careers?
Cybercrime is a serious threat that will not soon fade. So it should come as no surprise that the U.S. Department of Labor predicts employment in the information security field will grow as much as 28 percent in the next decade, which is nearly twice the average projected growth rate among all occupations.
This is because organizations are recognizing the need for information security experts to protect, detect and respond to malicious activity on their networks. These responsibilities used to fall upon general technology practitioners, according to Kellep Charles, information security analyst at NASA and executive editor of SecurityOrb.com.
Charles says employing security specialists ensures security incidents are identified and corrected much faster, thus saving the entire organization time and money.
The growth of information security careers is also a result of evolution of the technology used within organizations. The introduction of new mobile devices, applications or data storage systems introduces new security vulnerabilities along with it, says Joe Fisher, president of Affinity IT Security.
Fisher says the complexity of the Internet environment, competitive pressures and the rapid pace of change means that companies often don’t have the luxury of ensuring their network is flawless and perfectly secure before launching it. This often leads to a “fix it while it is out there” approach that invites hackers to find and exploit vulnerabilities, he says.
This is why organizations need individuals who can recognize these weaknesses and repair them quickly and discreetly in order to mitigate potential threats. As corporate technology advances, so do cybercrime tactics. With no end in sight to this dangerous epidemic, corporate America is in dire need of qualified information security pros now more than ever.
What skills are needed to work in information security?
Now that our industry insiders have shed some light on the increasing demand for professionals in this field, let’s turn to the data to take a look at what you will need to succeed in an information security career.
We analyzed more than 50,000 information security job postings from the past year and identified the skills in highest demand.* If you’re hoping to make a splash in the industry it would be a good idea to focus your efforts in these areas.
Hard skills needed:
- Software & programming
- Communication & coordination
- Network administration & security
- Problem solving
- IT operating systems
Soft skills needed:
What types of information security jobs are available?
Now that you have an idea of the skill sets you’ll need, you’re probably wondering what types of information security jobs are out there. Below you’ll find a brief breakdown of five of the most common positions in the field. Take a look to get a taste of the daily duties and the impressive average annual salary ranges for each position.
Top information security job titles:
1. Network security administrator: $95,000 to $130,750/year
- Administer & maintain firewalls
- Monitor & update malware prevention systems
- Implement network security policies & procedures
2. Systems security administrator: $95,250 to $131,500/year
- Create, modify & delete user accounts
- Ensure integrity & confidentiality of sensitive data
- Monitor system security & respond to security incidents
3. Network security engineer: $99,750 to $131,250/year
- Analyze performance to identify areas of concern
- Document network configurations & processes
- Plan, test & execute upgrades as needed
4. Data security analyst: $100,500 to $137,250/year**
- Perform risk assessments & security audits
- Research attempted security breaches
- Develop security policies & procedures
5. Information systems security manager: $115,250 to $160,000/year
- Supervise & train information security personnel
- Manage companywide security audits & threat assessments
- Ensure fulfillment of legal information security & privacy mandates
Keep in mind that the salary ranges above reflect the median annual salaries of professionals of all educations and experience levels. They don’t necessarily represent starting salaries, but they do reveal the exciting earning potential you can achieve once you work your way up in the field.
Once you’re equipped with the necessary knowledge and you’ve mastered the technical skills you’re ready to get your foot in the door and start climbing the corporate ladder to one of these coveted positions. In a cutting edge field that is on the rise, any one of these titles is sure to impress your friends and family. Not to mention those paychecks would be pretty nice too!
Do YOU have what it takes?
After digesting the information above you should be able to determine if you’ve got what it takes to be an information security professional. All you’re missing is the technical know-how and hands-on experience that will qualify you as a pro.
Why wait? Every second you delay, 18 people across the globe will fall victim to cybercrime. The sooner you prepare yourself for these information security careers, the sooner you can join the battle against cybercrime.
*Source: BurningGlass.com (Analysis of 53,938 information security job postings, Dec. 18, 2012 to Dec. 17, 2013).