Cybersecurity is non-negotiable in today's chaotic environment. Even companies with well-developed security protocols are at risk, as evidenced by breach events and cyberattacks at even the most tech-savvy companies like T-Mobile, Nintendo and Google. Information security should be built into the very fabric of IT. Yet, it’s surprisingly neglected among government entities and large corporations alike. Major hacks have caused many of these organizations to sit up and take notice, however, clamoring for the best and the brightest in the growing field of information security.
Today’s Hacks Are Sophisticated
Today, cyber-attacks come in a variety of shapes, forms and types. Some of the more common information security concerns include:
- Social Engineering—Hackers target remote employees, trying to gain access to usernames and passwords to get into a system. They’ll try to trick users into giving up credentialing information, perhaps through an email request for a password reset, so they can break into a system, steal money (or information), shut down critical systems and more.
- Third-Party Sites—Since many people use the same username and password on multiple sites, bad actors on the internet will sometimes sift through compromised information on other sites for credentialing information to target the site they really want to break into.
- DDoS—Sometimes hackers aren’t as interested in making money as they are in disrupting lives, systems, governments and company interests. A DDoS, or Distributed Denial-of-Service attack uses compromised computer systems—sometimes hundreds of networked sources and bots—to overpower a target with a higher-than-normal (think flood) volume of internet traffic. It consumes server resources, overwhelms firewalls and keeps people from using systems and services online.
This list barely scratches the surface of the threats information security management professionals need to be aware of and prepared to thwart. And each type of threat continues to grow in complexity and aggression. Cybersecurity experts are in more demand today than ever. And that need, as noted before, will only continue to grow.
If you’re interested in pursuing a future in the field, it might help to review the various roles, areas of employment and salary expectations for these information security professionals.
The Need for Innovation in Information Security
Hackers are undeniably resourceful; the best can defeat seemingly robust security systems. Unfortunately, when a large-scale breach occurs, the response is often misguided protocol that fails to address the constant development of new threats. Cybersecurity systems should not merely react to threats, but rather, identify and eradicate them well in advance. Embedded files and macros are no longer the chief source of danger; sophisticated hackers are now adept at changing the underlying structure of PDF and Word documents. When opened, these compromised documents can trigger devastating ripple effects. This is just one of several new threats on the horizon, and unfortunately, the security field has yet to develop a satisfactory response to these concerns. There is promise, however, with IT departments hiring Information Security Specialists.
The Role of Information Security Analysts
There is a real need for highly trained Information Security Specialists capable of preventing security risks and responding to breaches promptly so as to minimize damage. Information Security Analysts are highly adaptable—they understand that the field is constantly evolving and that they must always be up to date on new risks and new means of blocking security threats. Thinking outside of the box is a must for these information security specialists. Some typical job duties for Information Security Analysts include the following:
- Monitor systems for major security breaches
- Investigate security breaches as they occur
- Use data encryption and firewalls to protect information
- Simulate attacks and responses via penetration testing
- Recommend security improvements to IT staff members
- Assist everyday computer users as they implement new security measures
As new tools and techniques emerge, Information Security Analysts should expect the range of associated roles to expand. They should also anticipate being heavily involved in the development of new approaches to cybersecurity.
Information Security Analysts work in a variety of environments, including federal and state government entities, health care organizations, and financial systems, among others. Many information security specialists work on a freelance or contract basis, while others are employed in-house.
The field is quickly growing, with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a growth rate of 31% between 2019 and 2029. This is significantly greater than the predicted growth rate of just 7% across all industries and job titles. Income potential is also promising for Information Security Analysts, who earn median annual wages of $103,590.
Information security is a high-demand field, and for good reason—IT is quickly becoming the biggest security risk of our time. Only a population of highly skilled and creative Information Security Analysts can effectively address growing security threats. As this once niche field takes center stage, the focus will transition from reactive to proactive defense making the virtual sphere safer and more secure. If you are interested in starting a career or expanding your knowledge with a master’s level program in Information Systems Security, visit University of the Cumberlands for more information about one of our online programs or call us at 833-958-0560.