Information security professionals are responsible for the set of strategies to manage the processes, tools and policies that are needed to prevent, detect, document and fight threats to both digital and non digital information for all types of organizations both public and private.
Information security professionals build these programs around the maintenance of confidentiality, integrity and availability of all IT systems and business data. Following these objectives ensures that the most sensitive information is only provided to those who are authorized. It also prevents unauthorized access to data and ensures the data can be accessed by those who are authorized at anytime.
An information security degree is necessary to work in this field, with a bachelor’s degree adequate to enter at the lower level. A master of science is often required to work at senior levels.
What Is Information Security?
Information security analysts are responsible for planning and carrying out advanced security measures to protect a company’s computer systems and networks. As the number and complexity of these attacks increase, their responsibilities are growing.
Some of their common duties in information security are:
- Monitor the networks for the organization to look for security breaches and investigate any security violations that occur.
- Manage the installation of software, such as data encryption and firewalls, to protect the most sensitive organizational information.
- Do penetration tests, which is where the analyst simulates a cyber attack to look for any system vulnerabilities
- Research new IT security trends
- Devise and recommend security standards for the organization
Information security professionals work heavily in the disaster recovery plan for their organization. This is a complex procedure that IT professionals follow if there is a major cyber attack or other technical emergency. This plan allows for continual operation of the IT department.
Virtually anyone who earns a degree in information security today will have plenty of jobs to choose from. BLS reports job demand for this profession will soar by 28% by 2026 – much faster than average. There are few professions in America today for which there is hotter job demand.
As technology is getting more advanced, more and more of the world economy is dependent upon computer and mobile systems. Cyberattacks are getting more frequent and complex. Analysts are required to come up with new solutions to prevent computer hackers from stealing vital information or creating security problems for companies’ computer networks.
Banks and financial organizations in particular are needing to increase their information security efforts in the face of more cybersecurity threats. Also, the healthcare industry is expanding using electronic medical records, which better secures patient privacy, and protecting our personal health information becomes more important. More information security professionals will be needed to create secure systems that will satisfy consumers’ concerns.
Employment of information security analysts who work in computer systems design and related services will soar by 56% through 2026. The greater use of cloud services by small and medium sized organizations and an increase in cybersecurity threats will create more need for managed security services providers.
Another area where there should be strong demand for information security professionals is in the blockchain programming space. A recent article in TechCrunch stated there is a massive shortage of blockchain developers. That article claimed there are 14 job openings for one blockchain developer position. The development of blockchain is a boon for cybersecurity and privacy, and it is anticipated more information security workers will be needed here as well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states there are 100,000 information security analysts working in the US as of 2016. The biggest employers are in these industries:
- Computer systems design and related services: 28%
- Finance and insurance: 19%
- Management of companies and enterprises: 9%
- Information: 8%
- Administrative and support services: 6%
Some of the related positions you may work in with a bachelor’s or master’s in information security are:
- Computer and information research scientist
- Computer and information systems manager
- Computer network architect
- Computer programmer
- Blockchain developer
- Computer systems analyst
- Software developer
- Web developer
One of the best parts of working as an information security professional is the salary. As of 2017, the median salary in this field according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics was $95,500, with the top 10% earning more than $153,000 with the highest level of experience and education. US News and World Reports states the median salary is $92,600, with the 75th percentile earning $119.000.
How much you can earn somewhat depends upon the industry in which you work:
- Computer systems design and related services: $98,100
- Finance and insurance: $97,600
- Information: $96,200
- Administrative and support services: $91,500
- Management of companies and enterprises: $90,900
Some cities will offer a higher salary for the information security field than others. These cities are at the top, according to US News and World Report:
- New York City: $125,100
- San Jose CA: $123,700
- Danbury CT: $118,200
- Newark NJ: $116,800
- Oakland CA: $114,800
Virtually every organization that is connected to the Internet today can employ an information security professional. These workers can work in practically any industry. But the top employers in the information security field specifically are:
- CyberArk Software
- Lockheed Martin
- Check Point Software
- BAE Systems
Some of the companies that are listed to employ information security managers according to Glassdoor.com are:
- Capital One
- HSBC Holdings
- Wyndham Worldwide
- US Bank
- US Marine Corps
- Procter & Gamble
To get an entry level to mid level information security position, earning a bachelor’s degree in information security is a great step. This bachelor of science will develop your familiarity with many important information technology and security concepts, as well as management practices and the many ethical and legal concerns in the field. Bachelor’s programs usually cover data protection, software security, hackers, network security, network forensics, and telecommunications systems.
To progress to upper level management in software development and information security, it is usually necessary to earn your graduate degree. Students will learn best practices for planning, implementing and managing enterprise level system and security integrity, and to develop procedures and policies to manage possible security threats. Typical courses are in information assurance, network assessment and defense, technical communication, operating systems and advanced IT>
Admission requirements for a master’s program in information security can include:
- Undergraduate degree in computer science or related field
- Undergraduate courses in data structures and computer programming
- GPA of 3.0+
- GRE test scores
- Two years of related work experience
The curriculum for a master of science degree in information security may include these courses:
- Computer Networks
- Introduction to Embedded Systems
- Operating System Design and Implementation
- Storage Systems
- Introduction to Information Security
- Secure Software Systems
- Applied Cryptography
- Foundation of Privacy
Earning your bachelor’s or master’s degree in a technical field such as information security can be an expensive endeavor. These scholarships and grants can be helpful for you to get through school with less expense and student debt:
- Cisco Global Cybersecurity Scholarship: Varies
- International Association for Intelligence Education Scholarship: $1500
- Raytheon’s Women Cyber Security Scholarship Program: $8000
- ISC2 Undergraduate Cybersecurity Scholarship: $5000
- ISC2 Graduate Cybersecurity Scholarship: $5000
- AFIT Information Assurance Scholarship: $5000
- Colonel Sully H. De Fontaine Scholarship: $1200
- Cybercorps Scholarship for Service: Up to $25,000
The following information security certifications can increase your salary and career prospects:
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- CompTIA Security+
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- GSEC: SANS GIAC Security Essentials
Consider belonging to the below associations to increase your networking and educational prospects in the information security field:
- Information Systems Security Association
- National Cybersecurity Student Association
- Association for Computer Machinery
- International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology
- Computer Research Association
The job outlook for an information security degree is exceedingly bright, with job demand in this and related fields expected to increase by an impressive 28%. Earning your information security degree is certainly a solid way to ensure yourself a great technical occupation for many years.
- Information Security Analysts. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm
- Information Security Analyst. (2018). Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/information-security-analyst/salary