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Love solving problems and want to keep companies safe from attackers? Careers in IT Security are growing at breakneck speed and wherever you are in your current career, there’s an opportunity to jump into this high-demand field.
What It Takes: Problem-Solving and People Skills
One of the key responsibilities of an IT Security professional is to participate in the crafting of security policies to govern the data and network of their company, and then to enforce those policies. IT Security is also about people. Any current security specialist will tell you that the hardest segment of their network to manage is between the keyboard and the back of the chair, namely the user.
Users are not predictable or consistent. Given the same set of circumstances, people may take different actions at different times. They may remember the company security policies. Or, they may not. One of the most important skill sets for an IT Security professional is the ability to work encouragingly and productively with people, most of whom are making the security specialist’s life harder.
For example, one of the most common threats to a company’s security can start with a simple e-mail sent to an unsuspecting recipient. These emails, called “phishing” emails, are disguised to look like they come from a trustworthy sender, but a closer examination of the sender’s URL reveals that it isn’t from who it says it’s from. The email encourages the recipient to click a link or open an attachment. When they do, the hacker then has the access needed to either corrupt, encrypt, or outright steal all of the data on the recipient’s hard drives.
This security breach was enabled by the user who received the email. They didn’t intentionally do anything wrong. They fell for a fraud. The only defense is significantly better training to help users identify potential “phishing” messages.
Working with people to help them understand common threats and practice safer computing is a big part of your role as a Security IT professional.
A Day in the Life: Keeping Networks Secure
Fundamental networking, storage, and computers are the foundational expertise of a Security IT professional. When your job is to keep any unauthorized parties from exploiting any part of the network, you need to start with a working knowledge of every part of the network.
Your deeper magic lies in your knowledge of all the communication protocols that computers use to establish and conduct communication with each other. Starting with basic transport control protocols and internetworking protocols (TCP/IP) you’ll learn about a wide array of protocols that enable, facilitate, control, and also protect data communications. You’ll come to view data as a tangible thing that moves from place to place and then rests in storage awaiting the next transport request. You’ll learn how to protect that data whether its in transit or at rest.
Most importantly, you’ll learn how to manage every step in the chain of networking as data moves from a user who needs to be authenticated before they’re allowed in. They accomplish this through their access device such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone which also must be examined by network access control. Intrusion Prevention Systems are in place to scan the path to the network core which are meant to identify any message coming from an unknown source. Once your data identifies itself and gets past that, it will be checked for viruses and other malware. Finally, it reaches the firewall with its comprehensive set of rules designed to enforce all company security policies. Successfully being passed by the firewall, the data reaches its intended server, where all the data is encrypted, so your data better be preceded by the decryption key.
With new threats emerging every day a Security IT professional must constantly be on-guard monitoring carefully for any anomaly that may show up on the network. A day in the life of a Security IT professional is a busy, busy day, never boring. You’ll enjoy the satisfaction of keeping the bad guys out and protecting your company’s most valuable assets, its data.
How to Get Started in IT Security
Security requires incredibly careful attention to every detail. The risks can be tremendous to your organization, if you don’t constantly exercise the utmost caution. Those who are considered security experts are among the most highly respected professionals in the industry because of the depth and breadth of their required training and skills. It’s a lot of work, but the compensation can be substantial.
The first step to working in security is gaining the knowledge and understanding of IT. The best place to start is by getting your CompTIA Security+ certification. This is an industry-recognized credential that will help you land a job in the IT field. Entry-level positions such as Network Administrator and Network Engineer pave the way for long-term growth opportunities. In fact, job growth in IT security is projected to grow 32% by 2028, much faster than other industries and the median salary range is over $98,000 a year. There are jobs in every size business and type of company all over the world. Check out our IT programs to learn more about the training to prepare you for a future in IT security.