We're back with the second post in our Fastest Growing Jobs series—don't miss last week's kickoff infographic! With recent security disasters such as the Heartbleed Bug and the Target Security Breach, the need for strong information security has never been more pressing. Hackers and cybercriminals are consistently becoming smarter, bolder, and more sophisticated in our data driven world. Every day, they are launching decisive and coordinated attacks to steal critical information from governments, companies, and individuals throughout the globe.
Fortunately, there is a small but quickly growing group of people trained to safeguard our data, thwart cyber security threats, and create and install defensive software. These cyber heroes are known as information security analysts.
Information security analysts are responsible for protecting a company’s systems and computer networks. These security experts must be analytical, detailed oriented, and above all adaptable. In addition, information security analysts need to stay updated with the latest infiltration techniques and security software in order foil their cybercriminal counterparts. As a result, they must be constantly training, learning, and improving to stay one step ahead.
Due to the increasing frequency of cyberattacks, employment opportunities for information security analysts are expanding rapidly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an exceptional 37% employment growth rate for information security analysts over the next decade. The median annual pay for security analysts is currently $86,170, which is $10,000 more than the median for all computer occupations, and more than twice as much as the overall average annual pay of all careers ($34,750).
Becoming an Information Security Analyst
Due to the importance of the job, extensive previous experience and on-going training are necessities for information security analysts. Many IT professionals eventually transition to a security analyst position because of the increasing need and moderately high pay. For example, a database administrator might switch to database security after a period of time. However, IT professionals must be familiar with certain cybersecurity subjects and measures in order to make the transition. If you are interested in pursuing an exciting job with high growth, a career in information security might be right for you!
IT Security Certifications
When searching for information security analysts, employers usually favor candidates with verified IT security certifications. There are currently many different certifications such as the CISSP, SSCP, CISM, and the popular CompTIA Security+. The CompTIA Security+ is one of the most prominent certifications because it only covers the foundational principles of information security. Other certifications are for more specific roles. Listed below are some of the most common topics found on the CompTIA Security+ exam.
Network security is a primary component of information security. In fact, more than 20% of the questions on the CompTIA Security+ test focus on network security. Networks allow computers to communicate data and are essential for both small and large businesses.
Strong network security will ensure authorized users have access to certain programs and features while unauthorized users are blocked or denied access. Networks can face threats from spyware which allows people to illegally monitor data transaction and user communication. Other malware such as viruses and trojans can also assist cybercriminals in unlawfully accessing key data.
Systems with strong network security will often have a firewall and antivirus program installed. Strong passwords should also be required and protected. By successfully completing their job responsibilities, security analysts guarantee unauthorized users are unable to access and collect data without their authorization. OpenSesame offers an exemplary course about network security, that will ensure that you know everything you need to know about maintaining a secure network!
A competent information security analyst should also be familiar with application security. As the title suggests, application security refers to protection of application software. Though application security is primarily focused on defensive measures, it has many different facets including antivirus software and secure coding.
Information security analysts are responsible for analyzing any threats that could infiltrate a specific application. They must consider multiple scenarios in which an application could be vulnerable, such as when it is being repaired or updated. They ensure that security is bulletproof both in terms of actual code and overall design. Some analysts also run penetrative testing to detect vulnerabilities before they are actually abused by hackers.
Due to the growth of smartphones, the mobile application security aspect of application security is growing increasingly important. For anyone looking to go into mobile security, OpenSesame offers a must-take course on mobile app security.
One last component of information security to be aware of is cryptography. In essence, cryptography is the practice of creating secure information and communication. In order to protect information, it is “encrypted” or encoded. Only authorized parties are able to transform the information into a usable form through the use of a cryptographic key.
Cryptography is used in all facets of information security. Important topics associated with information security include encryption algorithms, digital signatures, and HMACs. Improper cryptography implementation can have disastrous results when it is not properly applied. Currently, information security analysts must have cryptographics solutions that meet industry requirements.
Are you an information security analyst? Think it’s an awesome career? Let us know in the comments! Also feel free to check out our selection of courses concerning information security!
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