Information systems security, also known as INFOSEC, is a broad subject within the field of information technology (IT) that focuses on protecting computers, networks, and their users. Almost all modern companies, as well as many families and individuals, have justified concerns about digital risks to their well-being. These threats come in all shapes and sizes, including theft of private information in a database hack, installation of malicious software on a machine and intentional service disruptions.
The Key Elements
While digital security experts take on a wide range of responsibilities and duties depending on the needs of their employer, there are a few common themes across the profession. These themes are often broken down into so-called elements, although there are different interpretations across the industry. Three of the most commonly recognized elements of INFOSEC are confidentiality, integrity, and availability. This summarizes the core purpose of the IT security profession, which is to ensure information is accessible to a system’s users without being corrupted or stolen by another party.
Importance for Businesses
While recent data breaches at major companies and other entities have brought information systems security some public attention, it is a risk that has been consistently increasing for decades. Any business that stores personal information about their customers, especially details regarding identification or payment, worries about the potential public relations nightmare caused by a hack. Companies can also lose a lot of potential income as well as property if their network is damaged by malicious software. Since digital threats are in a constant state of evolution and improvement, there is a rising need for dedicated information security professionals to address them.
Job Outlook and Information
While demand for information security specialists has increased steadily over the last few decades, the widespread adoption of smartphone technology has accelerated it even more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts a 28 percent increase over the period between 2016 and 2026, which is much higher than the average across the job market. Professionals classified as information security analysts reportedly earned a median pay of around $93,000 a year with a total number of around 100,000 jobs. Many INFOSEC professionals also work under other occupational titles and roles, including network administration, software engineering and management positions.
Preparing for a Career
A Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information security or a similar field are usually required for entry-level positions. Many jobs also require specialized knowledge in the use of certain digital tools, programming languages and networking protocols. Individuals interested in pursuing a career should actively seek opportunities for internship and educational employment while they are in school to build experience. Many advanced positions have significant experience requirements, so students should pursue practical professional development whenever possible.
Those interested in pursuing INFOSEC as an occupation should prepare themselves to adapt to an industry that is in a constant state of change. IT risks can emerge at any time and may switch formats or delivery methods in a matter of weeks. Information systems security experts have to consistently expand their own knowledge and skills to successfully combat the latest digital threats emerging around the globe and stay competitive with their peers.