Playing It Safe: Jobs In IT Security

As threats to information technology and communications systems have spread, the need has grown for security specialists. By most accounts, the demand now exceeds the supply and the field is wide open for skilled professionals who enjoy working at the leading edge of the IT profession. Security positions often offer meaningful work, competitive salaries and a bright outlook.

As security threats have spread from a few isolated techies to organized networks of thieves stealing identities and assets, the need for security pros has soared. The supply has not kept up with the demand, according to one recent survey.

IT Managers See Gaps in Skills

Security tops the list of technology skills that are most important to organizations today, according to a worldwide survey commissioned by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). Seventy-three percent of IT managers identified security, firewalls and data privacy as the most important IT skills. But just 57% said their IT employees are proficient in these areas, a skills gap of 16% points.

Even as available security talent falls short of the need, the number, type and severity of threats are skyrocketing. What’s keeping cybercops up at night? Among the threats are attacks on Web browsers. This includes popular plug-in components like Flash and QuickTime; bots of all kinds, from botnets to identity-theft bots; cyber-espionage and terrorism; rogue employees, malware and mobile phone attacks, among others.

The problem is further compounded by the fast-disappearing line between work and personal technology, and the borderless networks that have emerged.

Security Pros Needed Across the IT Spectrum

Dedicated security pros are needed at every point in the IT cycle, from development through recovery in the event of a breach. One emerging area is network access control, which seeks to limit and carefully monitor who has access to data. Other security professionals develop controls and detection-notification systems, test the effectiveness of those measures, devise early-warning systems and mitigate damage.

In addition to be cutting-edge, the field can also be lucrative. The salary for a computer security specialist is $85,699, according to the 2008 IT Skills and Salary Report, a joint study by Global Knowledge and TechRepublic.

Needed: Fast Thinkers and Lifelong Learners

Those who prefer more hands-on, tactical work may gravitate to operations, while those who prefer strategic, big-picture thinking may be better suited for developing overarching risk-management strategies. In either case, they must be able to react quickly to unprecedented threats and continually update their skills and knowledge.

The industry has clearly recognized the need to stay abreast of developments. In the CompTIA survey, employers were asked what their organizations should be doing to enhance employees’ IT skills. Forty-two percent cited external professional training; 41% said incentives, rewards and recognition for employees who take steps to boost their skills, and 36% said certification.

Certifications Gain Popularity, Respect

In fact, of the 10 certifications that were identified in the Global Knowledge and TechRepublic survey as offering “value in today’s job market,” several are in security. They include Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP); Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP); GIAC Security Expert (GSE); and Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP).

The future for the White Hats in IT is virtually limitless. Every day, these professionals do battle with the ever-changing and growing number of criminals and miscreants. When it comes to keeping bad cyber-behavior in check, there can’t be too many cops on the IT beat.

For more information about XSell Resources call 215-706-4500 or Contact Us.

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