Everything we do is impacted by the internet, so it is critical that we have humans as well as technology safeguarding how our data is being accessed and shared.

October marks the 15th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It is a good time to remember our shared responsibility in protecting the internet. The National Security Alliance will be covering topics such as online safety at home and at work, and safeguarding the nation’s technology infrastructure. This article takes a deep dive into the topic of educating and preparing for jobs in cybersecurity, specifically as a Information Security Analyst, a lucrative career path that will also help keep a keen focus on safety threats in the future.

Job Outlook
To say the employment outlook for cybersecurity is excellent is a vast understatement. Rampant growth in cyber crime is expected to triple the number of unfilled cyber security jobs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean wages for Information Security Analysts in Hawaii is $100K. Job opportunities in this industry are expected to grow 28% nationwide through 2026, much faster than other career paths.

What Information Security Analysts Do
The landscape of tasks for information security analysts continues to evolve as the sophistication and frequency of cyberattacks increase. Professionals in this field plan and execute security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. This could involve installing software such as firewalls and data encryption programs to protect sensitive information. Monitoring an organization’s network for breaches, simulating cyberattacks to test vulnerabilities, reporting findings and making recommendations are important aspects of the job. Information security staff may also be assigned to help computer users when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures.

IT security analysts play a critical role in helping companies recover from data losses, whether caused by malicious attacks or natural disasters such as fire or flooding. Implementing preventive measures, such as off-site back-ups of data are coupled with procedures to restore information and systems quickly. Creating and implementing a disaster recovery plan is critical to a company’s continued operation and well-being.

Cybercriminals are creating new threats as soon as solutions are found. Information security analysts must also stay current on new technology and methods to protect computer systems.

Work Environment
Most IT security personnel work full-time in an office environment. Major employers for these fields include companies that provide internet technology and security services, insurance companies and financial institutions. Also, most major employers have IT staff, including security analysts.

Laboring beyond a 40-hour work week can be expected. Often new technology is implemented in off-peak hours. Emergencies requiring immediate attention can occur at all hours. 1 in 4 employees surveyed through the Department of Labor report working overtime.

How to enter the cybersecurity field

Most information security analyst positions require a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, experience and certification. Higher levels of employment will require an MBA.

There are several ways to enter the field.

  • Obtain a computer science bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on cyber security. While going to school, work part-time in jobs such as IT customer service, information systems or database management.
  • If you are already working in the IT arena, you may be able to move into information security analysis, especially since jobs often exceed available candidates. Examples include a database administrator moving to database security or a systems analyst moving to systems security.
  • Obtain licenses or certifications to stand out as a candidate. Many employers look for certifications in certain aspects of cybersecurity to validate knowledge. Certified Information Systems Security Professional(CISSP) is a widely recognized certification.

Do you have what it takes?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook lists the following desirable attributes for people working in Information Security Analysis:

Analytical skills. Information security analysts must carefully study computer systems and networks and assess risks to determine how security policies and protocols can be improved.

Detail oriented. Because cyberattacks can be difficult to detect, information security analysts must pay careful attention to computer systems and watch for minor changes in performance.

Ingenuity. Information security analysts must anticipate information security risks and implement new ways to protect their organizations’ computer systems and networks.

Problem-solving skills. Information security analysts must respond to security alerts and uncover and fix flaws in computer systems and networks.

In 2015, IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty said, “Cyber Crime Is The Greatest Threat To Every Company In The World.” It is critical to encourage students with integrity and technical aptitude to consider a computer science degree and a career in information security analysis to keep cybercriminals at bay.