Information systems security (INFOSEC) is a broad subject within information technology (IT). It focuses on protecting computers, networks, and their users.
Many modern companies and individuals share concerns about digital threats and security breaches. These dangers take many forms, including:
- Installation of malicious software on a machine
- Intentional service disruptions
- Theft of private information in a database hack
The goal of information system security is to end these threats.
The Meaning of Information Security
Digital security technologies experts have a wide range of duties based on the needs of employers. But there are some common themes across this profession. Three of the most important elements of INFOSEC are:
These are the core purposes of computer information system security. This career ensures accessible information to a system’s user. And it ends corruption or theft.
See Also: Management Information Systems Salary
Information Security Systems for Businesses
Recent data breaches at major companies have brought INFOSEC some popularity. But it’s a risk that’s increased for decades in information security system.
Any business that stores personal information about their customers worries about potential hacks. These leaks could put them at risk of a public relations nightmare.
Companies also lose potential income and intellectual property if malicious software damages their network. Digital threats continue to evolve and improve security breaches. That means businesses need dedicated information systems security experts to protect them from a security breach or threat.
And more demand means a great job outlook.
Job Outlook for Computer Information Security
The demand for INFOSEC specialists has increased over the last few decades. And the widespread use of smartphones has accelerated it further.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 35 percent employment growth from 2021 to 2031. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS also expects 19,500 openings for information systems security analysts each year.
As of 2021, most information systems security analysts worked in one of two industries within the INFOSEC career:
- Professional, scientific, and technological systems services: 42.4% of digital security analysts
- Finance and insurance: 15.1% of digital security analysts
According to the BLS, 0.2% of analysts were self-employed. The other 99.8% fall under total wage and salary employment.
Computer and information systems security/information assurance is a lucrative career. In May 2021, the median annual wage for security computer analysts was $102,600. That’s over twice the total median wage of all occupations ($45,760).
The lowest 10% of INFOSEC analysts earned less than $61,520. The highest 10% earned over $165,920. The top-paying industries in which they worked, and their median wage, were as follows:
- Information and intellectual property: $128,970
- Finance and insurance: $104,790
- Management of companies and enterprises: $101,350
- Computer systems design and related services: $101,170
- Administrative and support services: $95,270
Most analysts work full-time. Some even work more than 40 hours a week. Information security is an emergency-based career. Because of this, analysts must sometimes be on call outside of normal business hours.
Duties of Information Security Analysts
Information systems security analysts design security systems. These systems protect organizations’ networks and information. According to the BLS, security analysts do the following:
- Check for vulnerabilities and risk assessments in computer and network systems
- Check their organization’s networks for security breaches from unauthorized parties
- Develop security standards and best practices for their organization
- Document general metrics, attempted attacks, risk assessments, and security breaches
- Ensure compliance of authorized users
- Help computer users to install antivirus software or learn about new security products
- Recommend security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
- Research the latest IT security trends
Information systems security analysts must stay current with the latest attack methods. This career evolves over short periods, so analysts must do the same. Good analysts are adaptable and quick.
But how does one become an information security professional? Like most careers, it begins at the educational level.
Best Degrees for Information Security
A typical entry-level education for information security is a bachelor’s degree. But some workers may enter the field with a high school diploma.
To do this, you need industry training and certifications. And even then, those with bachelor’s degrees will have a greater advantage.
With that in mind, here are the ten best majors for prospective analysts.
There is more to digital security than tech skills. A business degree provides an understanding of the economics behind INFOSEC. With a business major and bachelor’s degree, you have access to many career options in security companies, such as:
- Business development
- Cybersecurity consulting
The technological side of INFOSEC is easier to learn on the job. But the sharp business acumen this major can provide is invaluable.
Computer science is the foundation of information systems security. Your work will depend on these fundamentals. Computer science includes topics such as:
- Artificial intelligence
- Computer systems/networks
- Database systems
- Human-computer interaction
- Programming languages
- Security measures
- Software engineering
All these areas of study will prepare you for success in information system security.
Computer Software Engineering
In this major, students study the science and math behind computer software. Courses within this major include:
- Client/server development
- Design and analysis of data structures
- Mathematical principles
- Information systems security
- Programming languages
This major provides a strong foundation for an information security career. In fact, many computer software engineering majors intern at off-campus software companies. This gives you more work experience than your competitors.
Cybersecurity is the most obvious choice for a career in INFOSEC. On top of honing their tech skills, cybersecurity majors study topics like:
- Human psychology
- Network security
Many cybersecurity degree programs emphasize well-roundedness. They prepare you for careers in banking, energy, government, and more. This means you can hold a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity and work in any field.
A data analytics degree teaches students to use programming and statistics for analysis. Data analytics majors learn to analyze trends and patterns in critical data sets.
Like the cybersecurity major, many data analytics degrees create well-rounded students. They emphasize both technology and business. Data analytics majors take courses such as:
- Applied statistics
- Data visualization/presentation
It’s important to supplement data analytics with strong business acumen. In fact, many data analytics majors decide to minor in business.
Database management majors learn to design/manage databases, program, and use software. This is a crucial foundation of cybersecurity. Database management majors take courses in:
- Cloud computing
- Information security
- Information systems security
- Operating systems
- Web interface design
You may also take humanities or business classes, like cultural diversity and sociology.
Information technology (IT) is another foundation of information system security. IT students study:
- Computer science
- Information systems security
Many information technology degrees let students specialize in specific areas. For instance, students can focus on digital communications or web development. Either way, IT majors learn to become adaptable problem solvers.
Information Security and Assurance
Information security and assurance is another obvious degree choice. These majors learn to analyze and defend information systems. Information security and assurance students ensure users:
Students must develop and operate computer systems to protect organizations’ information. This provides the experience needed for a career in INFOSEC.
Network administration majors gain training in network operations and administration. Areas of study include:
- Information systems security
- Infrastructure configuration and management
- Network security operations management
- User support and troubleshooting
Businesses depend on network administration to protect their information. This degree is crucial to every department. Because of this, network administration is an appealing degree to employers.
Web design and development are both creative and practical. On the practical side, students learn front-end development like CSS and HTML. You’ll also study graphic industry business practices. For their creative education, web students learn visual design. Courses may include:
- Image editing and manipulation
- Professional portfolio design
- Website and e-commerce strategies
A background in web development is helpful for a cybersecurity career. Many virtual attackers aim their cyber threats at web applications. You can use your web development experience to strengthen vulnerabilities in applications and improve security measures.
Work Experience and Certifications
You may need work experience in security measures to enter the information system security field. Information systems security experience can come from a related occupation, anything from protecting customer data to physical security. Many information systems security analysts have experience as network and computer systems administrators. Both education and experience help candidates stand out to employers.
Certifications, licenses, and registrations also bolster candidates’ resumés. Many employers hire candidates with information security certifications.
There are different levels of certification for this career. Some are for workers at the entry level, like Security+. Others are for experienced INFOSEC workers, like the Certified Information Systems Security Professional. You may also gain certification in specialized areas like systems auditing.
All this helps quicken one’s advancement in the workplace. Information security analysts may advance to chief security officers. Or you could become another type of computer and information systems manager.
Analysts can also advance within the information systems security occupation. As you gain experience, you may lead a team of analysts. Or you could become an expert in a specific area of INFOSEC.
Important Qualities for Information Security Analysts
Information security workers must be good with computers. But there are many more characters needed to succeed in this industry. Here are a few of these important qualities, according to the BLS:
Analytical skills are like critical thinking. They are the ability to analyze data and make decisions. And sometimes these decisions solve complex problems. Taking in and processing new information is important in INFOSEC.
Information security workers study both computer systems and networks. They assess risks to improve security policies and security protocols. This would be impossible without strong analytical skills.
It may seem unclear, but communication is crucial to success in this field. Information security analysts explain potential threats to others. You must be clear and concise when sharing your knowledge.
There are many aspects of good communication. To be a good communicator in information systems security, you must thrive at:
- Active listening
- Nonverbal cues
- Sharing feedback
Creative thinking makes for an excellent information security analyst. Creative thinking in information systems security can include:
- Visual art
Creative thinking in the INFOSEC world means anticipating threats. Analysts must install new ways to protect their organizations’ systems. Because threats continue to evolve, analysts must be adaptable and creative.
Cyberattacks can be difficult to detect in information systems security. So, analysts pay close attention to computer systems.
You must watch for any minor changes in performance. The smallest change could equal danger. In information systems security careers, every detail matters.
Solving problems is a huge part of information security. Analysts must respond to alerts and fix security flaws. To solve problems, analysts must thrive at:
- Creative thinking
- Critical thinking
- Information processing
Successful analysts are effective problem solvers. They overcome great obstacles in the business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Computer security is a vast and complicated field. Many people need questions answered before pursuing this career. Below are three common questions about cybersecurity.
Are security threats increasing?
In short, yes, security threats increase every day. They continue to increase at an exponential rate in the following categories:
As threats increase, so does the demand for security experts. Employers need cybersecurity analysts to protect their organizations from:
- Cyber terrorism
Part of this threat increase comes from technological evolution. Cybercriminals learn new ways to steal or destroy digital information. The two most prevalent sources of cyberattacks are:
- Criminal organizations
- Foreign state-sponsored activities
The existence of mobile devices also presents new security risks. Mobile malware threats continue to increase in prevalence. Mobile malware is malicious software designed to attack devices.
Mobile malware is not as common as traditional malware. But its prevalence grows. The most common mobile malware attacks include:
- Mobile bots
- Mobile phishing attacks
Cybercriminals attack mobile devices for reasons like:
- Charge users fees for fake services
- Lock devices and demand money to unlock them
- Steal data
Cyberattacks increase every day. But there is a positive side to this unfortunate news. More threats equal a greater need for cybersecurity experts. So, those entering the field will have plenty of opportunities awaiting them.
Is information system security a good career?
The cybersecurity field has more job openings than average and great pay. The median salary for information systems security analysts is $102,600. That’s almost double the median wage for all occupations.
On top of pay, employment growth continues to increase.
The job outlook is as appealing as the wages. In other words, cybersecurity is a great career choice.
Is cybersecurity analytics hard?
Some aspects of cybersecurity are challenging. INFOSEC involves technical skills like:
- Computer literacy
- Computer programming
- Data analysis
- Risk assessments on other security technologies
The fast-paced work environment can also feel challenging for the unprepared. But education readies analysts for this career.
Students learn the technical skills and information security policy needed to succeed. They also learn adaptability and confidence.
You won’t feel thrown into work without the right tools for the job.