Information Security Analyst

With data breaches, cyberattackes and hacks on the rise, there has never been a greater need for technology professionals with the skills and knowledge to protect and secure electronic information for corporations and governments. Information security analysts protect computer networks and secure information systems from breaches and threats by implementing security measures.

Since cyberattackers are always coming up with new ways to penetrate and hack computer systems to obtain sensitive information, information security analysts must always stay one step ahead.

The typical duties performed by information security analysts include:

  • Protect corporate and governmental computer networks against security breaches
  • Install firewalls, encryption programs and other security software to protect digital information
  • Assess breaches when they occur and prepare reports documenting the breach and making recommendations to management
  • Peform regular pentration testing and simulate cyber attacks to find any vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and cyberattackers
  • Stay abreast of the latest security trends
  • Develop information technology security standards and protocols
  • Make IT security recommendations to management

It is critical that information security analysts are constantly learning, researching and staying up to date on the latest IT security trends and infiltration methods being used by cyberattackers and hackers. They must always be abreast of the newest security technologies and products in order to effectively protect computer networks and systems. Many information security analysts attend cybersecurity conferences to learn from other cybersecurity specialists and gain firsthand information from other security professionals that have experienced various types of cyberattacks.

Information security analysts are also involved in the development and implementation of the disaster recovery plan for their organizations. The disaster recovery plan details the procedures and protocols that IT employees and managers should follow in case of a major emergency or disaster. Having an IT disaster recovery plan enables the IT department to continue operating even if a disaster occurs. Most IT disaster recovery plans will include preventative procedures such as backuping up important data files and transferring mission critical information offsite. A key element of an effective disaster plan is a procedural guide for restoring functionality to the IT department following a disaster or emergency.

Due to the sensitive and critical nature of information security, most information security analysts work closely with upper management including CTOs and other information systems managers.

Work Environment
As of 2014, there were about 75,100 information security analysts employed in the United States. The majority of information security analysts work for finance companies, corporations, consulting firms and IT companies. Industries where the highest percentage of information security analysts are employed include the following:

Computer systems design 27%
Finance and insurance 19%
Information/data 10%
Management of businesses 8%

While a few information security analysts work as independent consultants, the majority work as captive employees for companies. They most typically work in the IT department of large corporations.

Education and Training
The minimum requirement for becoming an information security analyst is typically a bachelor's degree in computer science, computer programming, engineering or another closely related discipline. Many community colleges and technical school are beginning to offer two-year associate degrees and certificates in information security designed specifically to prepare students for careers as information security analysts. However, a bachelor's level education in computer technology or science is still the career path of choice.

Earning an MBA in information systems with an undergraduate degree in computer science, or a closely related discipline, is an attractive combination since many employers are seeking candidates with expertise in both business management and information security. Earning a MBA typically requires an additional two years of schooling beyond a bachelor's degree.

At the end of the day what employers really care about is what you're able to do. Many employers not only want to see that you have a degree, but that you have relevant work experience. In fact, many employers are looking for individuals who already have experience in the field for which they're hiring.

In addition to traditional college degrees, there a several industry organizations that offer information security training and certification. Many employers prefer hiring individuals who are certified through one of these organizations. Certification ensures that candidates have the specific skill sets and knowledge an employer is looking for. One of the more common certifications within the field of information systems security is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Below you can search our database of online and campus-based degree programs in computer science and computing technology that will prepare you for a career as an information security analyst.

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Earnings and Compensation
As of 2014, information security analysts earned a median annual wage of just over $86,100. The lowest 10% of wage earners in this field earned $49,900, while the top 10% of earners made over $135,500.

The following chart shows the median annual wage for information security analysts in the top four industries employing these professionals:

Finance and insurance $92,100
Information/data $91,500
Computer systems design $88,300
Corporate management $81,200

Information security analysts typically work regular business hours. However, they're often on call day or night to address any information security issues that arrise.

Job Outlook
Job opportunities for information security analysts are expected to grow at a rate of 37% through 2022–over 6 times as fast as the average growth rate of 6% for all other occupations.

Not surprisingly, experts predict the demand for information security analysts will be very high over the next decade–if not longer. Cyberattacks and security threats continue to grow in complexity and frequency, and there is no end in sight. Each year the problem continues to grow. It will require the knowledge and expertise of skilled security analysts to keep these attacks at bay and prevent cyberattackers and hacker from reaking havoc on vital information systems and computer networks.

With our nation's digital information systems under constant threat, it's expected that the federal government will also hire many information security analysts and experts to protect information technology vital to the safety and economic stability of the United States.

As the healthcare industry begins to rely more heavily on electric medical records, its expected that information security analysts will be hired to ensure personal data and critical information networks are not compromised.

In short, the job outlook for information security analysts couldn't be better. It's the perfect time to start a career in the field of information security. Candidates with a a bachelor's degree and/or masters degree, and relevant work experience, will have the best employment opportunities.

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