With the rise in hackers and data breaches sweeping throughout companies and the government, there’s a greater need to keep personal and top-secret information safe from cyber-attacks. That’s where information security analysts enter the picture. These computer specialists are responsible for protecting the computer networks of a company or government agency. They are an integral part of a company’s Information Technology Department working to ensure the confidentiality of all information stored in the respective company’s computer systems. This could be proprietary details of patented products that the company does not want competitors to obtain. Therefore, the security analyst’s primary function is the protection of sensitive and mission-critical data. In this role, the analyst will create plans to prevent malicious or inadvertent use of data, train users on security measures, and monitor access to data.
Security needs for computer systems often evolve, sometimes very quickly. A computer security analyst must keep up with developments in the field to offer reliable and timely assistance to clients. The work can include attending conferences and reading publications to monitor ongoing trends in security. As new systems go into development at manufacturers, a computer security analyst may play a role in testing their programming and making recommendations to get them as safe as possible before their launch.
Education and Certification
Many information security analysts earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming or engineering. One report stated that 65% of security specialists have a bachelor’s degree, while 23% hold a master’s degree and 11% have completed some college but no degree program. As with most professions in today’s competitive work force, a degree doesn’t ensure the applicant of a job, but it may increase your chance of gaining an interview.
Putting those with no degree aside, the first education level is those with an associate’s degree which will allow you to learn computer network administration, cyber law and data security. Students enrolled in a 2-year associate’s degree program in network security management learn to design and enforce network security protocols, follow proper regulations, recognize and repair potential security breaches, and work with a team of individuals in a business setting.
At the bachelor’s degree level, there will be the specialization in Information Systems Security which is designed to teach the students how to become competent IT professionals. Courses cover methods for constructing protected databases and the exploration of strategies for securing data and their applications that are stored online.
At the master’s degree level there will be more specialization in Information Security. Students will learn how to design, implement, and manage the various data systems that can affect the decision-making strategies at businesses. Instruction includes IT governance, cryptography and security mechanisms, and e-business security.
There are a host of certifications offered-most of which require a set number of years experience. Here is a sampling:
- Certified Information Security Manager- renewable each year with continuing education
- CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst- renewable every 3 years through continuing education
- Certified Confidentiality Officer- training and exam required to obtain
- Certified Internet Web Professionals- 3 levels: Associate, Specialist and Professional
- Certified Computer Crime Investigator- training and exam required
This is a growth industry according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which projects that 27,400 jobs will be needed through 2022. This calculates to a 37% increase which is much faster than average. The median annual salary per the BLS site is $86,170 in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree and less than five years experience. The best 10% in this field earned $135,600 in 2012 while the lowest-paid averaged $49,960.
Computer security is as vital to national security as it is to corporations. Cyber threats are ubiquitous. The FBI has devoted large resources to defend and uphold our nation’s economy and electronic infrastructure. They are constantly vigilant through the investigation of cyber crime, internet fraud, corporate fraud, and insurance fraud, to name a few. Similarly, a company’s information security analysts act as the in-house law enforcement agency to protect the respective corporations documents and secrets.