So, what is cyber security, and how does it relate to information security?
In today's highly connected global society, nearly everything is done via devices connected to the Internet, from exchanging personal, crucial information for health services, to paying credit card bills, to keeping a digital record of utility usage like electricity, gas lines, and water consumption.
In a perfect world, everyone would be trustworthy, and there wouldn't be any reason to worry about digital identity theft or data breaches against companies. But that's not the world we live in, and it's the reason why even when you do something as simple as ordering a $3 used book online, you see the website boasting badges of security, all to make you feel safe about handing over your money.
Cyber security professionals work to keep identities safe and big databases of information from being hacked. They help companies ensure their secrets are safe from their competition, give everyday people the security to carry out the intimate details of their daily lives online, and allow governments the freedom to communicate with one another without the worry of disclosing sensitive information.
Online data security is so important that in a March 2013 Senate hearing, a top intelligence official warned the congressmen that digital attacks by spies were the single top threat to national security issues besides terrorism.
The Lack of Supply & High Demand for Cyber Security Professionals
If working in IT interests you, a cyber security career is a great choice if it fits your goals, talents and personality.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the demand for information security analysts will grow by 37% through 2022, and CIO magazine calls cyber security professionals the most sought-after role in IT, surpassing all the other tech-based jobs. Data also suggests that the incoming workforce won't be lining up for these roles, leaving more opportunities open for others. A 2013 survey by defense-technology company Raytheon found that 82 percent of U.S. millennials said no high school teacher or guidance counselor ever mentioned the idea of a career in cyber security to them, and less than one-quarter of adults aged 18 to 26 said the career sounded interesting.
What is Cyber Security Like On the Job?
Cyber security professionals need to be able to handle fast-paced environments, manage surges in high-urgency and detailed work, and deal with potentially unpredictable working hours. They've got to stay on their toes, because it's a field in which anything can happen at any time.
On the job, cyber security professionals spend their days digging deep to identify software and Internet vulnerabilities to stay ahead of hackers, preventing cyber crimes like bank fraud, designing secure software using code to fend off hacking attempts, and knowing the ins and outs of various computer systems to find more in-depth, defensive ways to protect digital assets and private information.
Though many offices have an open, informal atmosphere (far from the stiff-necked imagery often associated with IT security), even during slower times of work, cyber security professionals should be able to stay agile and on top of their game. Often, offices will shift work responsibilities around to keep everyone's knowledge fresh. The good news is that according to the BLS, the average annual salary for information security analysts is $86,170.
Common job titles in cyber security include:
- Information Security Analyst
- Web Penetration Tester
- Security Engineer
- Security Architect
- Source Code Auditor
- Security Consultant
- Chief Information Security Officer
If the idea of working toward becoming a cyber security professional is something that excites you, you can start taking the steps to make it happen. Learn more about getting your career moving in the right direction: Download our guide, "How to Go From the Job You Have to the Career You Want."
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