It’s a good time to be in the IT security business.
At the height of the busy holiday shopping season, tens of millions of customers had their personal information stolen when a hacker collective managed to breach Target’s Point-of-Sale systems. Nor was Target alone: Neiman Marcus, Michael’s, and other retailers have reported sizable data thefts over the past several months.
That spike in attacks has employers scrambling to find IT security experts capable of patching vulnerabilities. Job postings on Dice for cybersecurity professionals have skyrocketed 162 percent year over year, while those for information security rose a still-respectable 19 percent. More employers also want tech pros knowledgeable about firewalls (a term that appeared 7 percent more often in postings, year-over-year).
For those seeking to become a security analyst, certain skills can prove useful in winning a fulfilling job. Many employers require familiarity with security regulations and compliance statutes; the prospective analyst should also demonstrate the ability to communicate well with various departments, and explain highly technical concepts to management in a way that’s clear. “You should be experienced in translating technical data into business impacts,” is how David Strom described the requirements in a Dice column earlier this year. “The more you can be the interface between the coders and product managers, the more strategic you will be and the more opportunities will be available.”
In addition, Strom recommended that those interested in a career as a security analyst consider obtaining a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), another requirement for many firms.
IT security skills can prove especially useful in earning jobs at startups, which are in desperate need of people experienced in repelling cyber-threats but often don’t have the cash to hire a full-time security specialist. Like the mega-corporations, these small shops realize there’s a growing need to lock down systems from intrusion—a fact that many a tech pro can use to his or her benefit.
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