For most people, cybersecurity isn’t the first thing on their mind in the morning. But on a typical day, a person might pay at the pump for gas, Google the best route home, order a birthday gift online, and catch-up with friends on Facebook. Normal daily life puts our activities, whereabouts and financial information out into the cyberworld. Our doctors send prescriptions to the pharmacist at a store or online, we stop at traffic lights that are controlled by computers, and at work our computers talk to other computers. Our lives and activities are all interconnected. This leaves us vulnerable to threats and illustrates the importance of keeping information secure in our personal and professional activities.
This month is the 15th annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), a joint government-industry initiative to make sure that Americans stay safe online. The Department of Homeland Security is the federal lead for NCASM and co-leads with the National Cyber Security Alliance.
The need to keep personal identities, institutions’ records and financial information secure has created vast opportunities for employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for information security analysts to be very high in the near future, growing 28 percent from 2016 to 2026. This demand is higher than for all other occupations. The BLS states that today’s interconnected world needs security analysts to “create innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or causing problems for computer networks.”
Burning Glass Technologies manager of client strategy and analytics Will Markow says that the already “employed cybersecurity workforce would have to almost double overnight just to have a supply and demand ratio that is in line with the market average.” This demand is creating vast opportunities for people who are interested in working in information security, across many occupation groups. The fastest growth in demand for cybersecurity is in fields such as finance and healthcare. The increased use of electronic medical records and mobile technology also create demand.
Most cybersecurity professionals need to have some kind of computer related degrees and technical skills. But soft skills are important also. Cybersecurity professionals need communication, writing and speaking skills. They will draft and write policies and procedures, teach security procedures to nontechnical employees and explain how cyber security is an integral part of business operations. They need analytical, problem solving and creative skills. Cybersecurity is ongoing and ever changing. Cybersecurity professionals must quickly analyze and respond to a threat, and create new and innovative ways to prevent cyber intrusion.
There are opportunities for people from diverse occupational backgrounds in information security, not just from technology. The 2017 Global Information Security Workforce Study says, “It is not uncommon for cybersecurity workers to arrive at their jobs via unconventional paths. The vast majority, 87 percent globally, did not start in cybersecurity, but rather in another career. While many moved to cybersecurity from a related field such as IT, many professionals worldwide arrived from a non-IT background.” Individuals in many other occupations have the important soft skills and can learn the technology skills they need to enter this field. For example former military service personnel may be very well suited to information security job opportunities. They have skills to assess a situation and respond quickly.
Creating a cybersecurity system is “not just about educating cybersecurity professionals, but educating professionals in cybersecurity,” says Cornell Tech professor Ari Juels. Information security professionals help everyone to understand that all our interrelated technology is vulnerable and needs protecting. There are opportunities for people from diverse occupational backgrounds in cybersecurity, not just from technology.
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