Information Security Officer

Career Path, Salary, Qualifications, Responsibilities

Computer networks, devices, and data are as valuable to companies as their other corporate assets.

Although these precious cyber resources are under constant threat from skilled and sophisticated hackers, companies have their own ever-vigilant sentinels to deal with these criminals—information security specialists.

Given below are brief notes about the tasks, qualifications, typical employers and salary, career path, and job prospects of information security specialists.

Resposibilities: What do they do?

Information security specialists protect the computer networks, systems, and devices of organisations by identifying security loopholes and taking steps to plug these gaps.

They safeguard information from being accessed by unauthorised persons and create firewalls or encryptions to prevent breach of databases and other information systems.

They are constantly on the watch for any illegal access or abnormal activity that indicates that the system or network is facing danger from intruders.

The tasks of the security specialist can be categorised into three main areas: planning security systems; monitoring systems for security breaches; responding to breaches.

Information security specialists are brought into the picture right at the planning and installation stage, when systems are chosen and set up, as it is easier to prevent an attack than to take a corrective or defensive action later.

After a system is put in place, security specialists strategically place monitoring devices on the network to detect an attack as soon as it happens. They also study data from servers to identify any unauthorised access or modification.

If an intrusion occurs, security specialists respond to it and try to stop data leakage and limit damage. They also identify the perpetrators if possible and devise and install upgrades to avoid repeat attacks.

Among other job titles that are similar to information security specialist are risk or incident analyst or manager; penetration tester or ethical hacker; and computer forensic analyst or investigator.

Risk or incident analysts devise and implement security auditing systems to prevent recurrence of hacker attacks. Penetration testers or ethical hackers are employed by organisations to try to break into their own systems to identify any weak points.

Computer forensic analysts or investigators help law-enforcing agency by playing the role of information security experts.

Qualifications

Most hiring managers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in information systems and cyber security. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology and certifications in security systems are also considered eligible.

Organisational and analytical skills, communication and documentation skills, and problem-solving ability earn additional points.

A high degree of honesty and integrity is required from candidates, and recruiters conduct thorough background checks before handing out employment offers.

Typical employers & average salary for IT security specialists

Salaries of information security specialists can be anywhere between Rs. 3.25 lakh and Rs. 15 lakh in India (between $44,000 and $114,000 in the US).

Companies across sectors employ information security specialists because of the widespread dependence on IT and the high risks of cyber attacks. However, computer and banking services companies use their services the most.

Information security specialists generally derive job satisfaction from their ability to face up to the challenges posed by security situations and from being able to thrive in a constantly changing technological environment.

There are negatives to the job, too: constant work pressure and odd hours are two of them.

Career path

With experience, highly developed skills, and knowledge of IT systems, an information security specialist can hope to rise to senior supervisory or managerial positions.

Many veteran specialists opt to function as independent consultants, making their expertise available to various organisations.

Job outlook

With more companies using information technology for their day-to-day operations, and given the growing risk of cyber attacks, companies just cannot do without effective safeguards and efficient IT security personnel.

Besides companies and banks, insurance agencies, research organisations, hospitals, educational institutions, and government departments now employ cyber security specialists. The career outlook is, therefore, excellent for these professionals in India and abroad.

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