Information security analysts are the protectors of information systems. These professionals plan and execute security measures to shield an organization's computer systems and networks from unwanted infiltration and cyber attacks. In other words, they prevent, monitor and respond to data breaches and cyber attacks, which are becoming more common.
As we listen to the news these days and constantly hear about new cyber attacks on important networks, businesses and corporations, we come to understand why the U.S. government, financial systems, health care organizations, and a plethora of other companies are growing more dependent on information security analysts to protect their information systems against hackers and cyber attacks. That is why the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in this profession to grow at a rate of more than 28% between 2016 and 2026. This translates into over 28,400 new jobs for information security analysts.
If you are looking into becoming an information security analyst, you should consider whether you have the following interests:
YOU POSSESS ANALYTICAL SKILLS
You must be interested in the careful and thorough study of computer systems and networks and obsess about assessing risks in order to determine how security policies and protocols can be improved.
YOU ARE DETAIL ORIENTED
Security analysts must pay careful attention to computer systems and watch for minor changes in performance because cyber attacks can generally be quite difficult to detect.
YOU HAVE STRONG PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS
As an information security analyst, you must be able to respond to security alerts and uncover and fix flaws in computer systems and networks.
YOU HAVE A GREAT AMOUNT OF INTEGRITY
Information security analysts must anticipate information security risks and implement new ways to protect their organizations’ computer systems and networks.
Job Outlook and Responsibilities of an Information Security Analyst
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics information security analysts plan and carry out measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number and depth of cyber attacks increase.
Usually, information security analysts have the following responsibilities:
Information security analysts are deeply involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan. This procedure would be what IT employees follow in case of an emergency, and they should allow for the continued operation of an organization’s IT department. The recovery plan should include preventive measures such as regularly copying and transferring data to an off-site location. It should also involve plans to restore proper IT functioning to the organization after a disaster has occurred. Analysts continually test every step in their recovery plans.
Information security analysts must stay up to date on all subjects related to IT security and also be knowledgeable on the latest methods attackers and other hackers are currently using to infiltrate computer systems and networks. Security analysts need to invest some time researching new security technologies to decide which one will most effectively protect the organization they work for. Typically, these organizations fall into one of the following sectors:
Information security analysts usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information assurance, programming, or a related field. However, these days some employers prefer applicants who have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems and technology. Schools with programs offering the MBA in information systems in most cases require two years of study and include both business and computer-related courses.
Information security analysts can also obtain a handful of certifications that confirm their skill and expertise in a certain areas of information security, such as network administration or software development. There are also certifications that prove one's merit as a manager or give the acclaimed chief information security officer (CISO) recognition.
The Certified CISO (CCISO) program is a training and certification program aimed at producing top-level information security executives. The CCISO does not focus solely on technical knowledge but on the application of information security management principles from an executive management point of view.
To sit for the CCISO exam and earn the certification, candidates must meet the basic CCISO requirements. Candidates who do not yet meet the CCISO requirements but are interested in information security management can pursue the EC-Council Information Security Management (EISM) certification.
If your goal is to have the highest regarded title within the information security profession, if you already have earned the role of a CISO, or if you are currently playing the role of a CISO in your organization without the official title, the CISO designation is the recognition of your knowledge and achievements that will award you with professional acknowledgement and propel your career.
Attaining the CCISO Certification differentiates you from others in the ranks of senior Information Security Professionals. CCISO will provide your employers with the assurance that as a CCISO executive leader, you possess the proven knowledge and experience to plan and oversee Information Security for the entire company.
Other industry certifications are:
Demand for analysts in information security is expected to continue being very high. As cyber attacks continue growing in frequency, these analysts will be required to come up with innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical data or creating difficulties for computer networks.
As the healthcare industry expands its use of electronic medical records, ensuring patients’ privacy and protecting personal data are becoming more critically important. More security analysts are likely to be needed to create the safeguards that will satisfy patients’ concerns. In addition, banks and financial institutions, as well as other types of establishments, will need to increase their information security capabilities in the face of growing cybersecurity threats.
Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 56% in computer systems design and related services from 2016 to 2026. The increasing adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses and a rise in cyber security threats will create a demand for managed security services providers in this industry.
The median annual wage for information security analysts was $95,510 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10% earned less than $55,560, and the highest 10% earned more than $153,090.
In May 2017, the median annual wages for information security analysts in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
It comes as no surprise to anyone that cyber attacks have been on the rise around the globe, and they have continued to escalate in frequency, scope and sophistication, with hackers and other criminals targeting businesses large and small to steal valuable information or bring computer networks to a stop. Demand is expected to be driven by increasing and more widespread efforts to combat cyber-crime. In addition, a growing need for information protection within the federal government and healthcare industry will increase the need for qualified information security analysts.
If you are looking to start a new career, and most particularly if you are paying for training before starting that new career, chances are you should be looking into job security. The job market for information security experts will only increase in the future. Over time, with more experience and the achievement of more certifications, there is also the highest likelihood of upward mobility in your career in this coveted field. Anyone who is looking for job security, a stable income, good hours, and the chance of promotion, should definitely look into a career in the information security industry.
Is cybersecurity the job of the future? Without a doubt, the answer to this question is yes. With cybersecurity becoming increasingly more important to an organization’s critical infrastructure, the demand for talent in this area is at an all-time high. If you’re thinking of your next career move, you may want to consider a career within the cybersecurity space.