Today more than ever, businesses are racing to improve their cyber security. Job titles like “cyber security analyst,” “ethical hacker” and “penetration tester” are popping up all over IT job sites and any institution worth its salt offers cyber security certification courses. But what does this catchphrase “cyber security” mean, anyway, and why is it so important?
According to Cisco, cyber security is “the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks.” These security breaches are aimed at “accessing, changing, or destroying sensitive information; extorting money from users; or interrupting normal business processes.”
In a world where a growing percentage of business transactions are conducted online, this makes security extremely challenging. Attackers are becoming more sophisticated and innovative, and websites and corporate infrastructure must be constantly monitored and updated to avoid potential vulnerabilities.
In a recent CSOnline survey, one-fifth of companies experienced critical system disruptions as a result of security vulnerabilities in 2017. Security company eSentire also reported that brute force and dictionary attacks were up 400% in 2017. On top of that, a McAfee study reported 71% of businesses believe that a shortage of IT security skills has made them a target for hackers, or resulted in damage through cyber attacks (McAfee 2017).
It doesn’t take a data scientist to see that businesses absolutely must focus on online security to protect themselves and their customers!
Cyber Security Jobs and Salaries Are On the Rise
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Businesses are rushing to protect themselves from hacking attacks. This has resulted in an increasing number of cyber security jobs available. CSOnline reports that IT security budgets keep rising year over year. U.S. businesses have increased security budgets in the past three years, with 16% of companies boosting their budgets 10-20% in 2017 alone.
The demand is high, but cyber security as a profession is relatively new, and few candidates actually qualify for these positions, which is one of the many reasons why it’s a great opportunity for aspiring security professionals to pursue certification in this field. Forbes reported that by 2019, there will be a global shortage of 2 million cyber security professionals. In the U.S., 40,000 jobs for information security analysts go unfilled every year. And the UK and Ireland only have one job candidate for every three IT security analyst job vacancies (eSecurity Planet 2018).
Luckily for IT professionals, high demand and low supply means that salaries for cyber security professionals are also on the rise. In the UK, IT salaries rose 8% from 2017 to 2018, averaging £56,523 per year. And security experts saw the biggest increase among IT professionals across Europe (Computerworld UK 2018).
Some of the most in-demand cyber security jobs for 2018 include:
|Cyber Security Analyst||Security analysts test systems to identify vulnerabilities and report on security flaws. Ethical hackers and penetration testers are sometimes included in this group of jobs.|
|Cyber Security Engineer||While analysts conduct testing and report on security flaws, engineers actually manage the design and implementation of security systems, focusing on vulnerabilities and exploits.|
|Cyber Security Specialist||Specialists design and build security programs to keep information systems secure, whether that is on computer networks, cloud servers, mobile devices, or payment software.|
|Cyber Security Architect||Security architects design and oversee the implementation of security systems. This is often a senior position, and an architect may manage security auditors who implement these systems.|
These jobs may reflect some overlap in skill sets required, but each position fits a specific need in an organization. Here are some median salaries for some roles in the UK and US:
|UK||Median Salary Per Year|
|Cyber Security Analyst||£52,500|
|Network Security Architect||£75,000|
|Cyber Security Engineer||£47,500|
Source: IT Jobs Watch May 2018
|USA||Median Salary Per Year|
|Cyber Security Analyst||$74,360|
|IT Security Architect||$120,501|
|Cyber Security Engineer||$92,978|
Source: PayScale May 2018
How to Launch Your Cyber Security Career
By now you’re probably excited about getting a cyber security job! With its growing salaries and high demand, the field is full of opportunities. But how do you actually become a security analyst, architect, engineer or other role?
The good news is, you don’t have to get a four year degree to get started. Since this is a relatively new industry, most colleges and universities don’t offer cyber security degrees, though that is slowly starting to change. This makes cyber security certification courses highly relevant, as a way to get into the field.
If you’re thinking of cyber security as a career, here are three reasons to start with a globally recognized certification program: