The primary goal of the information systems (IS) security specialist is to ensure the security and integrity of an organization’s computer networks, information processing systems and electronically stored or transmitted information. The domain of the information systems security specialist can encompass hardware, software, networks, Internet presence, telecommunications and virtually any facet of an organization’s electronic infrastructure.
In this key position, pertinent work experience is as vital as a formal education. One strategy to accomplish these two requirements in parallel is to obtain a position in information security, then work toward a degree in computer science.
A bachelor’s degree in computer science is the basic requirement to qualify for most information systems security (ISS) positions. Some entry-level ISS security jobs, such as Information Assurance Specialist, can be obtained with an associate degree.
Database hacking and cracking is on the rise, and an increasing number of incidents of data theft and virulent computer viruses are being reported every year. Cybersecurity experts have become crucial to protect against these and other threats of cyberterrorism.
ISS specialists might be assigned a number of responsibilities depending on their level of employment. Among other functions, IS Security Manager job duties often include:
Information systems security specialists require extensive technical knowledge of computer systems, various platforms, data management, network infrastructure and the operation of the Internet. They must be committed to staying up-to-date on computer security technologies and threats. Good communication skills are essential as well, as they must often explain their efforts in non-technical language to employees with varying levels of technical knowledge.
Although the exact number of information system security specialists is uncertain, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that in 2004 about 280,000 people were employed as computer or information system managers, and nearly 800,000 were employed as computer support specialists and system administrators. These umbrella positions include a growing number of security specialists, and job opportunities in this field are projected to grow faster than average well into the next decade.
The average salary for information systems managers and system administrators – a larger category that includes ISS specialists – was around $60,000 in 2004. This figure is expected to rise as the demand for experienced security specialists grows.